Black Kudzu Bug: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide

The black kudzu bug is a small insect measuring 4 to 6 mm in length, characterized by an olive-green color with brown speckles. Native to Asia, it was accidentally introduced to the United States and is now established as a severe economic pest affecting soybeans in several states source.

As a member of the “true bugs” family, kudzu bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts, allowing them to feed on a variety of legumes such as soybeans, other bean species, wisteria, and some vetches source. Being an invasive species, it threatens native ecosystems and natural resources, making it important to control its population source.

Black Kudzu Bug Basics

Megacopta Cribraria

The Black Kudzu Bug, scientifically known as Megacopta Cribraria, is a pest originated from Asia. It belongs to the Heteroptera suborder of Hemiptera and the Plataspidae family, also known as Old World Bugs.

Appearance and Biology

The Kudzu Bug’s appearance is quite distinct. They are:

  • 4 to 6 mm long
  • Oblong in shape
  • Olive-green with brown speckles

Characteristics:

  • True bugs with piercing-sucking mouthparts
  • Feed on a wide variety of legumes
  • Go through a nymph stage

Origin and Distribution

The Kudzu Bug was introduced to the United States in 2009, and has since rapidly spread across the southeastern U.S, including:

  • North Carolina
  • Florida
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Alabama
  • Tennessee
Key Difference Old World Bugs Globular Stink Bug
Origins Asia United States
Regional Distribution Eastern U.S Southeastern U.S

As the name suggests, Kudzu Bugs feed on kudzu vines, but they are also a severe economic pest of soybeans, causing potential yield loss.

Host Plants and Damage

Kudzu and Legumes

Kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria) are small, olive-green insects, approximately 4-6mm long. They primarily feed on plants in the legume family, with kudzu being one of their favorite hosts. Besides kudzu, these pests also target other legumes such as beans, peas, and wisteria1. They have piercing-sucking mouthparts that remove nutrients from host plants, potentially harming the plants in the process.

Soybean Impact

Soybeans are a major crop affected by kudzu bugs. These insects can cause significant yield losses in soybean production2. They were first introduced to the US in 2009, and since then they’ve spread across many North Carolina counties, negatively impacting agricultural sectors3.

Legume Crop Impact by Kudzu Bugs
Kudzu Moderate
Soybeans High
Beans Moderate

Other Susceptible Plants

In addition to kudzu and other legumes, kudzu bugs have also been observed feeding on:

  • Wisteria
  • Peanuts
  • Butter beans
  • Field peas
  • Green beans4

While these insects are considered agricultural pests and can harm plant health, it’s important for gardeners to be aware of beneficial insects in their vicinity, such as ladybugs. These beneficial insects can help control kudzu bug populations and protect crops from damage5.

Life Cycle and Behavior

Reproduction and Overwintering

The kudzu bug, also known as the stink bug, has a relatively short life cycle. Adult females lay eggs on kudzu stems, leaves or soybean plants. These eggs hatch into small, hairy, green-colored nymphs that develop into adults in around 5-8 weeks. Kudzu bugs overwinter as adults in tree bark crevices, leaf litter, or other sheltered areas. They may also enter homes in search of protected spaces for overwintering.

Pros of Overwintering:

  • Ensures survival of adult kudzu bugs during harsh weather conditions
  • Allows the population to regenerate in the following seasons

Cons of Overwintering:

  • Can become a nuisance pest for homeowners as they congregate in large clusters indoors

Feeding Habits

Kudzu bugs are considered a true bug, and possess piercing-sucking mouthparts. They feed on various legumes, but primarily target kudzu plants and soybeans. Kudzu bugs also feed on wisteria plants and other bean species.

Impact on Agriculture:

  • May cause significant damage to soybean crops
  • Can lead to economic losses for farmers

Congregation and Home Invasion

During the fall season, adult kudzu bugs congregate in large clusters on the sides of buildings or other structures. They are attracted to light colors, which is why they are often found on white walls or siding. To prevent home invasions, homeowners should seal gaps and cracks, and regular yard maintenance can help reduce kudzu bug populations in the surrounding area. If needed, a vacuum can be used to remove them from indoor spaces.

Comparison: Kudzu Bug vs. Lady Beetle

Feature Kudzu Bug Lady Beetle
Size 4-6 mm (1/6 – 1/4-inch) 5-8 mm (1/5 – 1/3-inch)
Shape Oblong Oval
Color Olive-green with brown specks Red or Orange with black spots
Mouthpart Piercing-sucking Chewing
Agricultural Impact Pest of legumes, especially soybeans Predatory, controlling aphid populations

Key Characteristics of Kudzu Bugs:

  • Small, oblong shape
  • Olive-green color with brown speckles
  • Piercing-sucking mouthparts
  • Congregate in large clusters
  • Considered a nuisance pest due to home invasions and damage to soybean crops

Kudzu Bug Control Methods

Chemical Control

Chemical control methods are effective in managing kudzu bug populations. Commonly used insecticides include bifenthrin and permethrin. Be sure to:

  • Wear gloves when applying, as insecticides may cause skin irritation
  • Avoid using on beneficial insects, as pyrethroids may be harmful

Considerations:

  • Pros: Effective in reducing kudzu bug populations
  • Cons: Potential harm to beneficial insects, skin irritation risk

Biological Control

Researchers are exploring the use of natural predators, like the Japanese kudzu bug, and parasitic wasps that prey on kudzu bug eggs. For example, a study at Clemson University found promising results with a specific type of parasitic wasp.

Considerations:

  • Pros: Environmentally friendly and sustainable
  • Cons: Still under investigation, may take time to be widely available

Physical and Cultural Control

Physical control methods include removing and disposing of kudzu bugs using:

  • Water: Flush the bugs from plants with a strong spray of water
  • Soapy water: Collect them in a vat of soapy water to drown

Cultural control involves managing the spread of kudzu, the primary host plant for kudzu bugs. This helps limit their food source and reduce population growth. Kudzu bug infestations are common in the southeastern U.S., including states like North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Alabama, and Tennessee.

Considerations:

  • Pros: Cost-effective, environmentally friendly
  • Cons: Time consuming, labor-intensive
Control Method Pros Cons
Chemical Control Effective population reduction Harmful to beneficial insects, skin irritation
Biological Control Environmentally friendly Under investigation, availability issues
Physical/Cultural Control Cost-effective, eco-friendly Time-consuming, labor-intensive

Economic and Environmental Impact

Agricultural Losses

Kudzu bugs, also known as lablab bugs, are a type of stink bug that attacks legume crops. They have become a significant economic pest in the Southeastern United States, particularly in Georgia. Crops affected by kudzu bugs include:

  • Soybean
  • Edamame
  • Other legumes

These pests can cause substantial damage, reducing crop yields and leading to financial losses for farmers.

Invasive Species Challenges

Kudzu bugs originate from China and were first found in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2009. They are now considered an invasive species in the US, as they have spread to numerous states. They feast not only on kudzu (a vine known as the “vine that ate the south”), but also on various legumes and even other types of plants. In turn, this negatively affects the ecosystem, disrupting native plant populations and local biodiversity.

Future Research and Education

Due to the significant economic and ecological damage caused by kudzu bugs, researchers are currently studying ways to manage, control, and eradicate these pests. A study by USDA ARS showed that combined management programs can control kudzu more efficiently than individual methods. Future research and education efforts should focus on:

  • Developing more effective pest management strategies
  • Increasing awareness among farmers and the public about kudzu bugs
  • Educating on preventive measures to inhibit the spread of kudzu bugs to new areas

By addressing these key areas, we can better protect natural resources while minimizing the economic losses caused by kudzu bugs.

Footnotes

  1. Kudzu Bugs – A Nuisance and Agricultural Pest

  2. Kudzu Bug

  3. Kudzu Bug | NC State Extension

  4. What Can I Do About Kudzu Bugs?

  5. Kudzu Bugs Around the Home

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Invasive Lablab Bug in Alabama

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Fairhope, AL
March 17, 2015 2:37 pm
This bug looks like the same size of a lady bug but blackish until you zoom in, has a blotchy tent? Any help would be great with if.
Thanks
Signature: Nick

Lablab Bug
Lablab Bug

Hi Nick,
This Lablab Bug or Bean Plataspid,
Megacopta cribraria, is an invasive species introduced from Asia.  According to BugGuide, its common name is Kudzu Bug as it feeds on that invasive plant.  Lablab Bugs can get very plentiful, becoming a nuisance around homes.

Letter 2 – Invasive Lablab Bug

 

Subject: Identification
Location: Tennessee
November 10, 2016 5:10 pm
Can you identify this bug? I’d like to know what it is.
Signature: Curious

Lablab Bug
Lablab Bug

Dear Curious,
Introduced from Asia, the Lablab Bug or Kudzu Bug,
Megacopta cribraria, has become quite a nuisance in the South because of its large populations and because it is known to enter homes to hibernate.  According to BugGuide:  “may invade homes in large numbers and become a household pest(1); highly invasive species of mixed impact: it seems to prefer kudzu (a highly invasive and damaging plant), but can also become a serious pest of leguminous crops.”

Letter 3 – Kudzu Bug Laying Eggs

 

Subject: Bug in Tega Cay, SC
Location: Upstate South Carolina
April 26, 2013 3:48 pm
We have a large abundance of these small ladybug sized bugs in our yard. They came out about 10 days ago and there are 100’s in our yard. Areas appear black or dotted there are so many of them. One photo is a close-up of the bug, the other is how they are scattered on the house. Can you help identify and provide some information?
Signature: Tega Cay, SC

Lablab Bug lays eggs
Kudzu Bug lays eggs

This is a Bean Plataspid or Globular Stink Bug, Megacopta cribraria, which is also called a Lablab Bug.  We don’t know the origin of the name Lablab Bug, but we are amused by it and that is our common name of choice for this Invasive Exotic Species.  We first received a report from Georgia in 2011 of this species and learned that it was first discovered in North America in 2009.  Since that time it has spread through the south.  It feeds on another invasive species, the Kudzu, and according to BugGuide, which is now using Kudzu Bug as the common name of choice, it is:  “the only member of its family reported from the Western Hemisphere.”  BugGuide also notes:  “may invade homes in large numbers and become a household pest; highly invasive species of mixed impact: it seems to prefer kudzu (a highly invasive and damaging plant), but can also become a serious pest of leguminous crops.”  We have received numerous reports of Home Invasions.

Kudzu Bugs
Kudzu Bugs

Comment from Ted
Subject: LabLab Bug
April 27, 2013 4:18 pm
You stated you were amused by the name LabLab. I occasionally grow a beautiful asian bean that goes by the name of hyacinth bean or LabLab. I  would strongly suspect this is the origin of the nickname. By the way- LabLab is particularly striking when grown together with blue Morning Glories here in Chicago.  Love your site and always will even if my contributions never find their way to the web page! Your Always Faithful Reader, Ted
Signature: Ted

Thanks for the informative comment.  We are troubled to learn that you have submitted identification requests or other potential website content and we haven’t ever posted anything.  Much of the selection process is luck, but a catchy subject line generally gets our attention as well.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Invasive Lablab Bug in Alabama

 

Subject: Bug
Location: Fairhope, AL
March 17, 2015 2:37 pm
This bug looks like the same size of a lady bug but blackish until you zoom in, has a blotchy tent? Any help would be great with if.
Thanks
Signature: Nick

Lablab Bug
Lablab Bug

Hi Nick,
This Lablab Bug or Bean Plataspid,
Megacopta cribraria, is an invasive species introduced from Asia.  According to BugGuide, its common name is Kudzu Bug as it feeds on that invasive plant.  Lablab Bugs can get very plentiful, becoming a nuisance around homes.

Letter 2 – Invasive Lablab Bug

 

Subject: Identification
Location: Tennessee
November 10, 2016 5:10 pm
Can you identify this bug? I’d like to know what it is.
Signature: Curious

Lablab Bug
Lablab Bug

Dear Curious,
Introduced from Asia, the Lablab Bug or Kudzu Bug,
Megacopta cribraria, has become quite a nuisance in the South because of its large populations and because it is known to enter homes to hibernate.  According to BugGuide:  “may invade homes in large numbers and become a household pest(1); highly invasive species of mixed impact: it seems to prefer kudzu (a highly invasive and damaging plant), but can also become a serious pest of leguminous crops.”

Letter 3 – Kudzu Bug Laying Eggs

 

Subject: Bug in Tega Cay, SC
Location: Upstate South Carolina
April 26, 2013 3:48 pm
We have a large abundance of these small ladybug sized bugs in our yard. They came out about 10 days ago and there are 100’s in our yard. Areas appear black or dotted there are so many of them. One photo is a close-up of the bug, the other is how they are scattered on the house. Can you help identify and provide some information?
Signature: Tega Cay, SC

Lablab Bug lays eggs
Kudzu Bug lays eggs

This is a Bean Plataspid or Globular Stink Bug, Megacopta cribraria, which is also called a Lablab Bug.  We don’t know the origin of the name Lablab Bug, but we are amused by it and that is our common name of choice for this Invasive Exotic Species.  We first received a report from Georgia in 2011 of this species and learned that it was first discovered in North America in 2009.  Since that time it has spread through the south.  It feeds on another invasive species, the Kudzu, and according to BugGuide, which is now using Kudzu Bug as the common name of choice, it is:  “the only member of its family reported from the Western Hemisphere.”  BugGuide also notes:  “may invade homes in large numbers and become a household pest; highly invasive species of mixed impact: it seems to prefer kudzu (a highly invasive and damaging plant), but can also become a serious pest of leguminous crops.”  We have received numerous reports of Home Invasions.

Kudzu Bugs
Kudzu Bugs

Comment from Ted
Subject: LabLab Bug
April 27, 2013 4:18 pm
You stated you were amused by the name LabLab. I occasionally grow a beautiful asian bean that goes by the name of hyacinth bean or LabLab. I  would strongly suspect this is the origin of the nickname. By the way- LabLab is particularly striking when grown together with blue Morning Glories here in Chicago.  Love your site and always will even if my contributions never find their way to the web page! Your Always Faithful Reader, Ted
Signature: Ted

Thanks for the informative comment.  We are troubled to learn that you have submitted identification requests or other potential website content and we haven’t ever posted anything.  Much of the selection process is luck, but a catchy subject line generally gets our attention as well.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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4 thoughts on “Black Kudzu Bug: All You Need to Know in a Quick Guide”

  1. Thank you foe this Info as I just found a dead one around my home in central North Carolina.

    I have only lived here for 4 years but had never seen this bug before today!!

    Reply
  2. Thank you foe this Info as I just found a dead one around my home in central North Carolina.

    I have only lived here for 4 years but had never seen this bug before today!!

    Reply
  3. Ah! Thanks! I just pulled something very similar to this off my face and threw it off. It left a sweet smelling odor that eventually began to stink and made me a bit nauseous. The one I found was more gray in color. Same thing? it looks to be the same shape. this one was about the size of a lady bug. I can still smell it.

    Reply
  4. THANK YOU SO MUCH for identifying this bug! I had a swarm of them around and on my tomato plants today. A few puffs of Diatomaceous Earth and problem resolved! I’m in Western NC mountains.

    Reply

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