On Gardening: Kudzu bugs are on the move
by Shane Harris
Special to The Star
Oct 28, 2012 | 3567 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This past summer, a new pest — kudzu bugs — were found in every county in East Central Alabama. Despite its name, this Asian insect will not eliminate kudzu.

However, this little stinkbug is becoming an important pest on soybeans and garden beans. The bad news continues. Like the Asian multi-colored ladybug beetles, when cooler weather arrives, kudzu bugs take flight and move to find shelter. Their target: our warm and cozy homes.

Kudzu bugs were first detected in northeastern Georgia during October 2009. Since then they have spread throughout Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and into Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia and Mississippi.

Kudzu bugs are small, olive green to brownish with a squared tail. They are about 4-6 millimeters long, similar to the size of ladybug beetles. Kudzu bugs, however, are not beetles. They are nuisance stinkbugs that secrete a foul odor that can stain wall coverings, fabrics and skin.

They are good fliers, often landing on people, vehicles and buildings, and can fly long distances.

The average person has never heard of or seen a kudzu bug. Unfortunately, that is about to change. Alabama residents are about to experience a massive home invasion of the stinky kudzu bugs. Once on the move, the adults particularly like congregating in masses on white and light-colored surfaces.

Entomologists recommend exclusion as the best strategy for keeping kudzu bugs out of our houses. Exclusion means sealing and caulking very well, particularly around windows, doors and areas where piping, such as water spigots or air conditioner lines, enter the house. Also, tight sweeps on the bottoms of doors and good screen maintenance will help limit entry into the house.

Treating kudzu bugs inside a house with a pesticide isn’t recommended because of the bugs’ mobility and their pure multitude. These bugs can occur in huge numbers, meaning you will never kill them all with an insecticide. These bugs don’t all migrate directly into living areas — they fill in gaps in walls and slowly move into the living area. This means getting an insecticide to them is nearly impossible.

Remember, kudzu bugs are stinkbugs and will emit an offensive odor if disturbed. Do not crush them as they can also cause stains.

The best way to remove them is to vacuum them up. An industrial vacuum works best, as odors can linger in a traditional vacuum. Add one to two tablespoons of dish liquid per gallon of water, then add a few gallons to the vacuum canister. The soapy liquid will kill any kudzu bugs you vacuum up. If you use a traditional vacuum, be sure to throw away the bag as soon as you are done.

I wonder what the ladybugs are going to say about sharing their corner of the house with kudzu stink bugs. “Hey roommate!” or “Go find your own corner!” I do know what folks will say about another pest; I just can’t repeat it.

For help on other home and garden questions, contact your local county Extension office or visit www.aces.edu.

Shane Harris is an Extension Agent for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.
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On Gardening: Kudzu bugs are on the move by Shane Harris
Special to The Star

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