Kudzu bugs turn up in Kentucky

09/09/2013 09:34:00 AM
Vicky Boyd

Courtesy Auburn UniversityKudzu bugs, an invasive pest of legumes, continue to expand their territory, most recently being found in Kentucky.

Agricultural officials in that state said it wasn't a surprise to find the pest since it had been confirmed in nearby Tennessee earlier, according to a grower newsletter.

As its name implies, kudzu bugs feed on the invasive weed, kudzu.

But they also have an taste for many other legumes, including soybeans and green snap beans.

How widespread the pest is in Kentucky is hard to determine since there is no formal sampling program.

Doug Johnson, a University of Kentucky Extension entomologist, and Garrard Coffey, an Extension agent, sampled along the I-75 corridor, figuring that was a good avenue for pest movement from Tennessee.

Live kudzu bugs were collected in Whitley, Bell and Laurel counties.

And just because sweep samples didn't detect the pest doesn't mean it isn't present.

Although the population appears small, the insects are reproducing, according to the newsletter. At this level, they don't appear to be an agronomic pest this season.

What is not known is whether the pests will overwinter in Kentucky.

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