Kudzu bugs expand territory

05/23/2012 07:12:00 PM
The Grower Staff

kudzu bugPhillip Roberts; bugwood.orgKudzu bugs feed on legumes, but will congregate on many other crops.Kudzu bugs, which appear to be more of an annoyance than a pest to all but legume crops, have continued to expand their territory across the Southeast.

The insects were first found in Georgia in 2009, according to a news release.

Since then, they've also been found in South and North Carolina.

The bug, about the size of a pencil eraser, feeds on legumes, including its namesake kudzu.

But it also congregates on other plants, including grapes, cotton corn, crepe myrtles and magnolia trees.

In residential areas, they congregate on wisteria and ornamental fruit trees.

During the week of May 14, kudzu bugs had been reported in six North Carolina counties in soybean fields, according to the release.

The kudzu bug's preference for certain plants seems to stem from bacteria the insect carries on its body.

The bacteria also are deposited when the kudzu bug lays its eggs to give offspring direction on food preferences.

In Japan, the kudzu bugs don't seem to have a preference for soybeans, but in the United States they'll feed on any type of legume, according to North Carolina State University Extension entomologist Dominic Reisig.

For more information on kudzu bugs, visit North Carolina State University or download an NCSU crop fact sheet.

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