Do Kudzu Bugs Bite? Find Out the Truth Here

Kudzu

What Are Kudzu Bugs

Origins in Asia

Kudzu bugs, scientifically known as Megacopta cribraria, are small insects native to Asia. They are slightly larger than a ladybug and have square, flattened bodies1. These bugs primarily feed on kudzu plants, a fast-growing invasive vine native to Asia as well.

Invasive Species in the US

Kudzu bugs were first discovered in the United States in 20092. Since then, they have spread to several states across the southeastern US, including:

  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Alabama
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia

As an invasive species, kudzu bugs can cause damage to native ecosystems, especially in terms of agriculture. Their favorite food sources are kudzu vines and soybean plants. However, they do not typically damage other types of plants. In large numbers, they can cause a decrease in kudzu vine growth, which can be beneficial in controlling the spread of the invasive vine3.

Characteristics of Kudzu Bugs:

  • Native to Asia
  • Slightly larger than a ladybug
  • Square, flattened bodies
  • Favor kudzu vines and soybean plants as food sources
  • Invasive species in the southeastern United States

Comparison Table: Kudzu Bug vs. Ladybug

Feature Kudzu Bug Ladybug
Size Slightly larger1 Smaller4
Body shape Square, flattened1 Rounded, dome-like4
Food source Kudzu, soybean3 Aphids, scale insects5

While kudzu bugs may cause economic and environmental concerns, they do not pose a direct threat to humans, as they do not bite or sting. However, their presence can be a nuisance for homeowners and gardeners due to their swarming behavior during certain times of the year6.

Kudzu Bugs and Plants

Feeding Habits

Kudzu bugs are small insects, typically around 4-6mm in length, with an olive-green color and brown speckles 1. They have a wide range of dietary preferences, primarily feeding on legumes:

  • Kudzu
  • Soybeans
  • Wisteria
  • Other legume plants

Kudzu bugs use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to consume nutrients from these plants 2.

Impact on Agriculture

The invasion of kudzu bugs has created significant problems for farmers, especially those growing soybeans. These pests are known to cause yield losses in soybean crops, making it difficult for farmers to meet their production targets 3. Moreover, the invasive kudzu vine poses a threat to native ecosystems and natural resources, and may lead to damage in gardens as the bugs search for food 4.

Some notable effects of kudzu bugs on agriculture:

  • Yield loss in soybean farms
  • Damage to legume plants
  • Disruption of native ecosystems

While kudzu bugs are an agricultural concern, it’s important to note that they primarily feed on kudzu and soybeans, so the impact on other plants in a garden may not be as severe as it appears 5.

Plant Type Kudzu Bug Impact
Kudzu High
Soybeans High
Wisteria Moderate
Other Legumes Moderate to Low

Kudzu Bugs and Pest Control

Natural Predators

Kudzu bugs, being a newer invasive species, have few natural predators. However, some birds and insects may feed on them. For example:

  • Parasitic wasps
  • Spiders
  • Some small birds

Providing bird feeders or planting flowers that attract beneficial insects can help increase the presence of these predators in your garden.

Chemical Solutions

There are several chemical solutions available for controlling kudzu bugs. Here’s a comparison table of some common options:

Chemical Pros Cons
Bifenthrin Broad-spectrum; long-lasting Pyrethroid; potential environmental risk
Permethrin Widely available; fast-acting Pyrethroid; potential environmental risk
Lamda-cyhalothrin Broad-spectrum; fast-acting Pyrethroid; potential environmental risk

Some methods for using these chemicals include:

  • Soapy water: A simple solution of dish soap and water can be sprayed on kudzu bugs to reduce their numbers.
  • Pesticides: Apply chemical insecticides like bifenthrin, permethrin, or lamda-cyhalothrin to affected areas.

A few characteristics of these chemicals:

  • Pyrethroid-based
  • Effective against various pests
  • Potential environmental concerns

Please remember to follow label instructions and safety precautions when using any chemicals for pest control.

Managing Kudzu Bug Infestations

Preventive Measures

  • Regularly inspect your garden for signs of kudzu bug infestations, such as eggs, nymphs, or adult bugs.
  • Keep plants healthy and pest-resistant through proper care.
  • Remove any overwintering sites, such as piles of leaves or debris outside your home.

An effective prevention technique to manage kudzu bug infestations is maintaining a clean and healthy garden. Inspecting the garden regularly for kudzu bug eggs, nymphs, and adult bugs help in early detection and control measures. Keeping plants healthy reduces susceptibility to pest infestations. Remove potential overwintering sites, including piles of leaves or debris near your home’s exterior walls, light-colored surfaces, siding, and fascia boards.

Safe Removal

Some safe methods for kudzu bug control include manual removal and vacuuming. These methods aim to minimize harm to both the garden and the individual removing the bugs.

Manual Removal

  • Wear gloves and protective clothing.
  • Use a stick or tool to remove the bugs.
  • Dispose of the bugs in soapy water.

When using manual removal, ensure you wear gloves and protective clothing to avoid direct contact with the bugs. Use a stick or a tool to gently remove the bugs from plants and dispose of them in soapy water.

Vacuuming

  • Use a handheld vacuum or a vacuum with a hose attachment.
  • Seal the vacuum bag and dispose of it in an outdoor garbage bin.

Vacuuming is another safe removal method for kudzu bug control. Use a handheld vacuum or one with a hose attachment to suck up the bugs from plants. After vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag and dispose of it in an outdoor garbage bin.

Safe Removal Methods Pros Cons
Manual Removal Eco-friendly, cost-effective Time-consuming, potential direct contact with bugs
Vacuuming Fast, no direct contact with bugs Requires electricity or batteries, not suitable for large infestations

Kudzu Bugs and Human Interactions

Do Kudzu Bugs Bite?

Kudzu bugs, also known as lablab bugs, are invasive insects from the family Plataspidae under the order Hemiptera. While they possess piercing mouthparts, they do not bite humans. Kudzu bugs are often mistaken for other insects such as ladybugs, boxelder bugs, or the brown marmorated stink bug that may bite or cause skin irritation.

Kudzu bugs were first discovered in northeastern Georgia, and they typically feed on legumes, kudzu patches, and soybean plants. As a result, their presence does not directly harm humans but can impact agriculture and the environment.

Dealing with Invasion in Homes

Kudzu bugs are attracted to light and may invade homes in search of a warm place, especially during early spring. Here are some suggestions on how to deal with kudzu bugs at home:

  • Use soapy water: Fill a container with soapy water and gently knock the bugs into it. The soap will kill them without causing a foul odor.
  • Seal entry points: Make sure to close any gaps or cracks in your home to prevent their entry.
  • Use gloves: When handling kudzu bugs, wear gloves to avoid direct contact, as they may release a foul odor or cause minor skin irritation.
  • Safeguard your garden: Regularly monitor your garden for kudzu bugs and take appropriate action to protect plants.
Invasive Insect Bite Humans? Impact on Agriculture Causes Foul Odor?
Kudzu Bug No Yes Yes
Ladybug No Minimal No
Boxelder Bug No Minimal No

When dealing with kudzu bugs or similar pests, remember that it’s crucial to avoid making exaggerated or false claims, and always ensure accuracy in identifying the insect. Regular monitoring of your home and garden can help keep them at bay and maintain a comfortable living environment for you and your pets.

Footnotes

  1. Kudzu Bugs – North Carolina State University 2 3 4

  2. Kudzu Bugs in America: A Brief History 2

  3. Kudzu Bugs and Soybean Plants – University of Georgia 2 3

  4. Ladybug Facts – Colorado State University 2 3

  5. Ladybug’s Diet – University of Kentucky 2

  6. Kudzu Bug Management – Clemson University

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 – Lablab Bug

 

Bug Identification
Location: Charlotte, NC
March 30, 2012 10:38 am
Can you help us identify this little greenish looking bug we found in our home? We live near Charlotte, North Carolina. It was found yesterday, March 30, in my dad’s shirt taken straight from his dresser drawer — not outside the home.
We are especially curious since my brother, who lives in NYC where there’s obviously a severe bedbug problem, just visited us (after he has recently been exterminated for bedbugs himself). We were EXTREMELY careful to avoid him bringing them into our home (didn’t bring luggage, took a shower as soon as he got here, washed the clothes he was wearing in hot water) but I think we’re hyper-aware about any bugs we see now.
Signature: Skiddish in NC

Lablab Bug

Dear Skiddish,
Stop your fretting.  This is not a Bed Bug, but it is a somewhat newly introduced exotic species from India or China that has turned up in prodigious numbers in several southern states.  The Bean Plataspid or Lablab Bug feeds on kudzu, so it has no shortage of food in your area.  Lablab Bugs are known to enter homes when cool weather approaches.  The Digital Charleston has a nice article on the Lablab Bug. 

Letter 2 – Lablab Bug

 

Subject: Looks like a pentagon Lady bug
Location: North Carolina
September 24, 2012 9:44 am
Hi. We live in North Carolina, and about a week ago, our house became covered in thousands of small flying insects about the size of a ladybug, but angular, like a pentagon, and brown. We cannot even open our back door, for fear all the bugs hanging out there will swarm into our house! They do not seem to bite, but I don’t want them inside, and I can’t get them to leave my doors and windows alone.
Signature: Hiding inside during beautiful weather

Lablab Bug

Dear Hiding inside during beautiful weather,
You have been inundated by Lablab Bugs or Bean Pataspids, an invasive species recently introduced to the U.S. from Asia.  They have the potential to become serious agricultural pests since they feed on soybeans and other legumes, however, their preferred food is the invasive kudzu.  According to BugGuide:  “may invade homes in large numbers; may become a household pest.”

Letter 3 – Lablab Bug

 

Subject: What is this bug ? They’re everywhere !
Location: Kennesaw Georgia
May 15, 2013 2:29 pm
This bug has been flyin around . & they’re about the size of a lady bug, look just like tick, & they fly . There are about 15 o them flying around on my deck ! Are these harmful or just bugs ?
Signature: Devin Reilly

Lablab Bug
Lablab Bug

Hi Devin,
This is a Lablab Bug, Bean Plataspid or Kudzu Bug, 
Megacopta cribraria, and the bad news is that it is a recently introduced, invasive, exotic species that feeds on soybeans.  The good news is that it also feeds on kudzu, another invasive exotic species of plant that has infested much of the south.  The Atlanta Journal Constitution ran an article on the Lablab Bug back in 2009.

Authors

    by
  • 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.

    View all posts
  • 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.

    View all posts

Leave a Comment