Keep your keen scouting eye peeled for yet another invading insect. The box-shaped kudzu bug is on a northward march, and has already been spotted in Delaware and Maryland.
Like the brown marmorated stink bug, it raises a stink and can significantly damage soybeans, report John Tooker, Penn State Extension entomologist and Mary Ellen Setting, Maryland deputy secretary of agriculture. The olive brown stinker is less than ¼-inch at full size, and can lay eggs on the underside of soybean leaves.
"It's much smaller and has an odder shape than your typical stink bug," adds Tooker. He urges Pennsylvania soybean growers to report any evidence of kudzu bugs in their fields their local Extension office.
Excessive kudzu bug feeding can reduce soybean yields by reducing pods per plant, reducing beans per pod, and/or reducing seed size. In Georgia, where it was originally discovered, yield losses of up to 47% were recorded on untreated beans in 2011. Without control, average soybean yield losses run close to 18%.
The United Soybean Board already has collaborated with researchers at Clemson University, North Carolina State University, and University of Georgia to release a new guide for growers dealing with the pest. The guide includes information on how to identify its different life stages, where it can be found, how it lives, and current management practices.
Click on the guide, a map showing the distribution of the pest, and find more on how to control the bug at www.kudzubug.org.
Maryland's kudzu invasion
The kudzu bug has been confirmed in five Maryland counties – Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George's and St. Mary's counties. MDA is alerting soybean growers – especially organic soybean growers.
It can reduce yields. It can be controlled with appropriate pesticides. But as Setting puts it: "Farmers need to prepare now for its arrival."
These insects typically feed on kudzu vines, then may migrate to soybeans and other types of available beans. Thus far, the pests in Maryland have all been collected on kudzu, not on soybeans. But they may be heading that way, cautions Setting.
– was originally found in Georgia in 2009 and has been working its way north. It was identified in Delaware earlier this month. For more information see: www.kudzubug.org/index.html or click here.