Contact: Mary Kay Malinoski, University of Maryland Extension
ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 14, 2012) - The kudzu bug, Megacopta cribraria, is also known as the bean plataspid, lablab bug, or globular stink bug. It was first discovered near Atlanta Georgia in 2009 and has since spread to South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, and one county on the very southern edge of Virginia. Needless to say, it is not far from Maryland. It is for this reason that the Maryland Invasive Species Council has named the kudzu bug the May Invader of the Month.
Like our other favorite stink bug, the kudzu bug was introduced from Asia. It is very distinctive looking. It is about the size of a pea (1/6”- ¼”), olive green with brown speckles and flat across the back end. They are “true bugs” and have piercing-sucking mouthparts.
The kudzu bugs love kudzu and are one rare example of an invasive feeding on another invasive. Since kudzu is one of its favored hosts in Asia, it is expected that the bug will continue to spread throughout the areas in the U.S. where kudzu grows. It would be nice if the kudzu bug only fed on kudzu but, unfortunately this critter feeds on the leaves and stems of soybeans and can cause serious yield losses. Kudzu bugs also feed on a wide variety of other legumes including other beans, wisteria, and some vetches. So far they are not known to damage non-legume plants. The bugs have several generations in the South; we don’t know how many they will have in Maryland.
Kudzu bugs have something in common with other invasives such as the brown marmorated stink bug and Asian lady beetles, they don’t like to spend the winter outdoors. In the fall, they often congregate on light colored surfaces, such as siding, fascia boards, etc. before moving into structures. They will enter buildings under siding, gaps around windows, doors, vents, or pretty much any entry point they can find. Like the stink bugs come spring time they will try to get back outside in search of food. Needless to say they can be a real nuisance to people. The best method of dealing with them in residences is basically the same as other home invaders. Seal your home or building up as tight as you can to prevent entry.
Since we don’t have them yet the best we can do is get prepared. Keep an eye out on any kudzu patches for these critters and report them to the Maryland Department of Agriculture at 410-841-5920, or the University of Maryland’s Home and Garden Information Center at 1-800-342-2507 (M-F, 8AM-1PM) or via their website at http://hgic.umd.edu/faq/sendAQuestion.cfm.
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For more information about Invasive Species of Concern in Maryland, visit www.mdinvasivesp.org