Odd Bug ”Infestation”
Location: Lawrenceville Georgia
April 8, 2012 5:27 pm
A couple of years ago I noticed this bug showing up in Spring by the swarms. They are currently taking up residence in one of my maples. They show up Middle of March and I’m not sure when they leave. They are about 1/4” – square shaped and dark green mottled tops and a creamy to brown underneath. They live in large colonies. At first they pretty much swarm all over the house and deck (much like the ladybugs do during their migration) but then they settle in on this maple tree. They are all over the branches – but tend to horde around the new growth tips.
I can’t see any aphids or other bugs they would be feeding on – and I can’t see that they are making any nests or webs – but several of the new leaves on these branches are dying. I’m not sure if the death and the bugs are related but wanted to find out.
Any help identifying these guys is much appreciated.
You are being troubled by Lablab Bugs, Megacopta cribraria, an invasive species accidentally introduced from China several years ago that is spreading through the South. They are also known as Bean Plataspids or Kudzu Bugs, and they are known to feed on the invasive Kudzu plant, which is a good thing, however, they can also become a pest on certain legume crops. According to BugGuide: “Found in the US on kudzu; known hosts include legume crops, especially soybeans.” BugGuide also states: “may invade homes in large numbers; may become a household pest. There are seriously mixed emotions about this highly invasive species: on the one hand, it seems to prefer kudzu, itself a highly invasive and damaging species, but it also has the potential to be a very serious pest of several important leguminous crops- not to mention its bad habit of invading homes in search of winter shelter.” BugGuide makes no mention of them feeding on maple, but the new leaf die-off you describe is consistent with the damage caused by plant feeding insects in the order Hemiptera that have piercing and sucking mouthparts and that feed on the fluids of plants.