The discovery of a resident wasp that parasitizes kudzu bugs could be, as one Auburn University researcher put it, a game changer.
The minute wasp joins a fly that was found earlier that preys on kudzu bug adults and doubles biological control efforts aimed at the invasive bug, according to a news release.
“This local parasitoid wasp has demonstrated a high capacity to reduce significantly the populations of kudzu bugs in soybean fields,” researcher Xing Ping Hu said in the release.
The discovery actually was made by Hu's research assistant, Julian Golec, during a routine visit of a kudzu-bug-damaged soybean field.
The wasp lays its eggs in kudzu bug eggs.
The larvae develop inside the eggs, feeding on their contents.
Eventually, adult wasps emerge, mate, and the cycle begins all over again.
Egg parasites typically are more effective predators than species, such as the fly, that prey only on adults, according to the release.
Preliminary field surveys have found more kudzu bug eggs than not appear to be parasitized by the wasp.
As their name implies, kudzu bugs feed on the invasive weed, kudzu.
But the pest, which is native to east Asia, also likes soybeans and many other legumes, including green and pole beans.