Kudzu bugs are back on the move


Kudzu bugs often gather in large numbers on the stems of plants, tree trunks or sides of houses.

Submitted photo
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 01:54 PM.

The return of spring has tempted more than gardeners to venture outside and enjoy the warm weather. Kudzu bugs, a new insect first seen in our area in 2011, are coming out from their winter hiding places by the thousands. Slightly larger than a lady bug, with olive green or brown flattened, square bodies, kudzu bugs are strong fliers and often gather in large groups. If you spend time outside in the next several weeks chances are you will run into them.

 Do they cause any problems?

Originally from Asia , kudzu bugs were first found in the United States near Atlanta , Georgia in the fall of 2009. They are believed to have been accidentally introduced through the Atlanta airport. Since landing on American soil they have spread throughout the southern states, anywhere their favorite food, kudzu, grows. Kudzu, which is also from Asia , is an invasive weed sometime referred to as ‘the vine that ate the South’.

Kudzu bugs only feed on plants in the bean family. This includes ornamental plants like wisteria, also from Asia and a favorite of the insect, as well as edible crops like peanuts, soybeans, butter beans, green beans, and field peas. Kudzu bugs do not eat plant leaves or stems. Instead they feed on plant sap with their piercing mouthparts, through a process similar to drinking liquids from a straw. Symptoms caused by heavy feeding include stunting, brown leaf edges, wilting, and dropping of flowers and seed pods.

Though they only feed on plants in the bean family, kudzu bugs often congregate in large numbers on many plants including figs and fruit trees, but they do not cause any damage to these plants. They are attracted to light colors and often cover sides of houses, tree trunks, and even light colored vehicles. Kudzu bugs will not damage your house or harm you if you come in contact with them, though as a member of the stink bug family they do emit an unpleasant odor and may stain surfaces when crushed.

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