Joe Eger, Dow AgroSciences; bugwood.orgKudzu bug nymphs feed on legumes, such as kudzu and soybeans.University of Georgia entomologist Tracie Jenkins has traced the origin of the kudzu bug that's invaded the Southeast back to Japan.
Knowing exactly where the pest originated can help stop it from entering the United States in the future, according to a news release.
Seven collection sites in Asia sent samples to Jenkins' lab in Griffin, Ga.
By comparing DNA, she determined that the kudzu bugs found in the Southeast were closely related to samples from Japan, but they did not match samples from China.
Jenkins used population genetics to determine that all of the kudzu bugs in Georgia were related maternally.
That told her their ancestors all came from the same location in Asia originally.
Kudzu bugs were first confirmed in Georgia in 2009 and have since spread throughout much of the Southeast.
As their name implies, kudzu bugs feed on kudzu. But they also like other legumes, such as soybeans.
They have been seen on snap beans, but entomologists do not believe they pose an economic risk to that crop.
During the fall, they congregate in large numbers on houses and other buildings.