The Kudzu Bug, a small olive-green insect with brown speckles, has become a concerning agricultural pest in recent years. Originally introduced in Georgia, this critter has since spread to neighboring states, causing significant damage to soybean crops and other plants, such as wisteria and vetches source.
Belonging to the “true bugs” group, Kudzu Bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts, allowing them to feed on a wide range of legumes source. Despite their appetite for Kudzu, a notorious invasive plant species, their impact on other crops and native vegetation has raised concerns among farmers and environmentalists alike.
Kudzu Bug Identification and Distribution
The Kudzu Bug, scientifically known as Megacopta Cribraria, is a small, greenish-brown insect native to Asia. They are oval-shaped and approximately 4-6mm in length.
- Greenish-brown color
- Oval shape
- 4-6mm in length
Countries and States Affected
The Kudzu Bug is known to feed on the Kudzu plant, which is native to China but has become an invasive species in the southeastern United States. The bug was first identified in the United States in Georgia in 2009 and has since spread to several other states. The affected states include:
- South Carolina
- North Carolina
|State||Year of First Detection|
The Kudzu Bug’s rapid spread has caused concerns due to its potential impact on agricultural crops, particularly soybeans, and the overall ecosystem. It is essential to monitor their distribution and implement management strategies to control their population.
Kudzu Bug Life Cycle
Kudzu bugs lay small eggs that are barrel-shaped and pale green, often found in groups on the host plant’s leaves and stems. A female can lay up to 200 eggs during her lifetime. The eggs hatch into nymphs within around a week.
Nymphs are the immature stage of the kudzu bug. They are bright green and have piercing-sucking mouthparts for feeding on plants. As they grow, nymphs molt through several instars, each marked by color and size changes. This process takes about 2 to 3 weeks before they mature into adults.
Adults are about 4 to 6 mm long, olive-green colored with brown speckles, and oblong in shape (source). Kudzu bugs can feed on various legumes, including soybeans, wisteria, and other bean species. As temperatures cool in the fall, adults seek overwintering sites, including the bark of trees, leaf litter, and cracks in buildings.
Pros and cons of kudzu bug:
- Pros: Can potentially control the invasive kudzu plant.
- Cons: Harmful to economically important crops, such as soybeans.
Comparison between kudzu bug life stages:
|Life Stage||Size/Color||Feeding Habits||Duration|
|Eggs||1 mm||Not applicable (undeveloped)||1 week|
|Nymphs||2-5 mm, Green||Feed on plant juices||2-3 weeks|
|Adults||4-6 mm, Olive-green||Feed on legumes||A season+|
In conclusion, the kudzu bug life cycle consists of eggs, nymphs, and adults, with each stage having distinct characteristics and feeding habits.
Kudzu bugs are a severe economic pest that affects soybean fields in states like Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina ¹. Farmers face challenges controlling the kudzu bug population and preventing damage to their soybean crops.
These insects are known to feed not only on kudzu but also on a wide variety of legumes, including soybeans and various bean species ².
Kudzu bug infestation can lead to significant yield losses for soybean farmers. For example:
- Reduced soybean production due to damaged plants
- Increased costs for pest control methods
Pros of Kudzu Bug Control Methods:
- Reduces yield losses and damage to soybean plants
Cons of Kudzu Bug Control Methods:
- May require increased pesticide use
- Some control methods may be ineffective or slow to show results
To help understand the impact of kudzu bugs on soybean production, see the comparison table below:
|Factor||Kudzu Bug-Infested Soybean Fields||Healthy Soybean Fields|
|Yield||Reduced due to damaged plants||Higher yields|
|Costs||Increased for pest control||Lower costs|
|Quality||Lower due to pest damage||High quality|
Host Plants and Infestation
Kudzu bugs primarily feed on kudzu vine, an invasive weed introduced to the United States in the late 1800s1. The insects:
- Pierce the vine to extract water and nutrients
- Can stunt the growth of kudzu plants
Wisteria is another host plant of kudzu bugs2. The bugs:
- Particularly target young foliage
- May reduce the overall vigor of the plant
Legumes and Other Edibles
Kudzu bugs also infest legume plants2, including:
- Green beans
- Soybeans (severe economic pest1)
In addition to the host plants mentioned above, kudzu bugs may occasionally use other plants as “rest areas” during migration3.
Comparing the host plants:
|Host Plant||Severity of Infestation|
Control and Management
- Effective in reducing kudzu bug populations
- Works quickly
- May harm non-target organisms
- Potential environmental concerns
An alternative control method is biological control. Kudzu bugs were not intentionally introduced to manage kudzu vine; however, they can help control its growth. Natural enemies such as parasitic wasps help to manage kudzu bug populations.
Physical and Cultural Control
Physical and cultural control methods focus on preventing kudzu growth and bug habitat. Some strategies include:
- Removing kudzu vine manually or mechanically
- Planting competitive species that can outcompete kudzu for resources
- Regular monitoring to detect kudzu bug infestations
USDA has found that combined management programs can control kudzu vines more effectively than individual methods.
|Chemical Control||Fast-acting, effective on kudzu bugs||Can harm non-target organisms|
|Biological Control||Targets specific pests, eco-friendly||May not eliminate kudzu bug entirely|
|Physical & Cultural||Prevents kudzu growth, manages habitat||Labor-intensive, requires monitoring|
Kudzu Bug Interactions with Humans
The Kudzu Bug, also known as the globular stink bug, is a true bug belonging to the family Plataspidae. This insect is a nuisance pest for several reasons, including:
- Emitting a foul odor when disturbed or crushed
- Congregating on light-colored surfaces, especially on the exterior of homes
- Damaging various plants with their piercing mouthparts
One notable comparison is between Kudzu Bugs and Boxelder Bugs, as both pests tend to gather on homes and emit unpleasant odors. However, they are different species with distinct appearances and damage potential to plants.
Home and Garden Issues
The Kudzu Bug is not only bothersome outside the home, but can also cause problems in gardens. They have a preference for plants like kudzu, wisteria, and soybean crops, which they can significantly damage. Gardeners might encounter some resident_issues when dealing with these pests.
Manual removal is one option for controlling Kudzu Bugs, but care should be taken to avoid skin contact as their secretions might cause irritation. Using gloves when removing them from plants or surfaces is highly recommended.
Another method often employed by homeowners is using soapy water to drown the insects. This involves mixing a soap and water solution in a spray bottle, then spraying it directly onto the bugs to kill them.
It’s important to note that Kudzu Bugs are not beetles and should not be confused with them. A key difference between the two is their mouthparts – true bugs have piercing mouthparts, while beetles have chewing mouthparts.
Here’s a comparison table to help differentiate Kudzu Bugs from beetles:
Although Kudzu Bugs are not edible, some people might try to store them in a freezer to control their populations. This method is not recommended, as freezing temperatures might not effectively kill the bugs, and it’s best to utilize other means of pest control.
In conclusion, Kudzu Bugs create various issues for humans, ranging from being a smelly nuisance to causing damage in home gardens. While there are several ways to manage their populations, it’s crucial to identify the correct insect and use appropriate control methods.
Research and Education
Kudzu bugs, an invasive insect species, have rapidly spread across the Southeastern United States. They are primarily known for being pests in soybean crops and feeding on the invasive kudzu plant1. Clemson University and the Edisto Research and Education Center have conducted studies on the biology, distribution, management, and impact of the bugs on agriculture and environment2.
These insects have several distinguishing features:
Kudzu bugs lay egg masses on kudzu plant nodes with an incomplete metamorphosis life cycle5. Their presence can become a nuisance when they cluster on white house siding, white cars, and other surfaces6.
Controlling kudzu bugs requires proper timing and usage of different strategies. Some methods include:
- Using hot, soapy water to remove bugs from surfaces
- Employing spray pesticides that are pyrethrin-based
For more severe infestations, consider using chemical insecticides like lambda-cyhalothrin7. However, these should be used carefully as they can potentially harm aquatic life when used near storm drains or water bodies8. Keep in mind that while kudzu bugs are pests, they also play a role in controlling the invasive kudzu plant, similar to how cluster flies feed on plant pests9.
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 Bugs
Looks like a Lady Bug with a Trapezoid Back
Location: Upstate South Carolina
October 15, 2011 1:34 pm
I have many of these dark bugs…they look like lady bugs except they have dark brown shells that are trapezoid shaped. They tend to cluster. Any ideas?
You have invasive exotic Lablab Bugs that feed on Kudzu as well as soybeans. We just posted another letter and we refer you to the information there.
Letter 2 – New Invasive Species in Georgia: Bean Plataspid or Lablab Bug
Weird bug in Atlanta
Location: Atlanta, Georgia
January 15, 2011 2:09 pm
This picture shows a bug that is inside my home. This bug congregates with dozens of others like him on two windows. These two windows get a good amount of sunlight, so it’s a warm sunny spot. I also have spider plants hanging in these windows, and they are all over the plants, too. The bug has a squarish shape, is hard, dark and flies. I keep vacuuming them up, but more appear! They seem to be endless.
We were not at all familiar with this True Bug, but we thought it resembled a Stink Bug so we began to search BugGuide. We quickly identified your Bean Plataspid, Megacopta cribraria, which is also commonly called a Globular Stink Bug as well as the very unusual name Lablab Bug according to BugGuide. BugGuide also indicates it was: “Recently found in ne. GA; native to India and China, known also from many parts of e. & se. Asia to Australia and New Caledonia” and that “Found in the US on kudzu; known hosts include legume crops, especially soybean.” Furthermore, BugGuide remarks: “in Oct. 2009 was invading homes in large numbers in GA.” Thank you for submitting your question so that we are able to inform our readership of this new Invasive Exotic species.
Wow, that was fast. And… ew! Thanks!
Letter 3 – Lablab Bugs
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.
Letter 4 – Lablab Bugs
Location: Longs, Sc
May 3, 2012 4:29 pm
Could you please identify this bug for me and tell me how i can stop the madness. They swarm all over our house, gutters, siding, outdoor plants, everything…all day long..it has been very warm and sunny here and they have been here for about 2 weeks now but it is becoming increasingly more difficult..we cant even go outside during the day. Please help me identify these bugs and find a solution to get our backyard back.
Signature: Coral’s Mom
Dear Coral’s Mom,
When an insect, other animal or plant is accidentally introduced to an area that is not its typical range, it must have certain conditions met to survive. It must have a climate conducive to its survival and it must have a food supply. When that happens it can become naturalized and without natural predators, it might become proliferate to the point it crowds out native species. It is then an invasive exotic species. Many years ago, Kudzu was introduced to the south and it has grown unchecked. More recently, Lablab Bugs, were accidentally introduced to Georgia. The good news is that they eat Kudzu. The bad news is that they will eat other crops and they are multiplying and spreading. You have Lablab Bugs.
Thank you so much for identifying that bug for us. Now, this is probably something I need to call an exterminator about?. They are literally taking over the whole southside of my house and plants and trees. Thanks!
We do not endorse extermination in most situations. We doubt in this case if extermination will eliminate the problem. You need to locate where they are reproducing and remove the food source, probably kudzu.
I have no kudzu around but they are on my wysteria bush. Thanks for your help.
Letter 5 – Lablab Bugs have ingenious method to expand range!!!
Location: Brunswick County, NC
April 17, 2012 2:32 pm
I am a pest control business owner. This is not a question but to help you follow this insect. I found numerous lablab bugs laying eggs on the window of a trailer in the country in North Carolina just 10 miles north of the NC/SC state line near the coast. P.S. I don’t have a pic so I sent you a random one so I could email this.
Signature: Robert J. Russ
Thank you for helping to explain how the invasive exotic Lablab Bugs may be expanding their range. We found a photo from our archives to accompany your submission.
Letter 6 – Lablab Bugs invade home in Georgia
Location: Lincolnton, GA
August 2, 2011 10:30 pm
These started showing up a week ago a few at a time and have increased to hundreds today (pic 1). Some have laid what seems to be an egg pattern similar to the Harlequin Bug (pic 2).
Signature: Jeff McKinney
Your home has been invaded by a recent introduced Invasive Exotic species, the Bean Plataspid, Megacopta cribraria, also knows as the Globular Stink Bug or Lablab Bug. The Bean Plataspid was recently introduced to Georgia from India or China, where it is native. It has since been reported in South Carolina as well, according to BugGuide which reports: “in Oct. 2009 was invading homes in large numbers in GA”. The University of Georgia Cooperative Education website has a very informative PDF entitled Megacopta cribraria as a Nuisance Pest. The Lablab Bug is known to invade homes when cool weather sets in.
According to BugGuide, known food plants are legumes including soybeans, and though this Invasive Exotic species has many negative attributes, a benefit is that its primary host plant is reported to be kudzu, owing to yet another common name, Kudzu Bug. If you have kudzu growing nearby, you might want to consider trying to control the invasive vine before the insect population reaches an uncontrollable level, though your photo indicates that time may have already passed. The Nature Closeups photography blog has some great photos of the Lablab Bug.