- Scientific name: Megacopta cribraria
- Size: 1/10th to 1/5th of an inch
- Color: Olive to brown
- Shape: Rounded square bodies
- Found in: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina. Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, Maryland
The kudzu bug is a type of “true bug” much like the lady bug. This type of pest insect is an invasive species and not native to the United States. They are a relatively recent invader, having only been observed since late 2010. They are most known for the foul scented, corrosive and at times skin irritating liquid they spray when threatened. They, like termites, contain a specific type of gut bacteria that existing in a symbiotic nature with the host insect.
Signs of Infestation
The best indication of a crop infestation is a reduced yield of crops (up to 3/4th of a soybean crop can be lost) and the visible presence of the species on plants such as legumes, soybeans and even, occasionally, sunflowers. Because the kudzu bug is a piercing insect and not a chewing one, there will not be the more common signs of chewing on leave or vines.
In the home the kudzu bug seems most motivated by the source of shelter, rather than that of a search for food. Although they are not a food pest, the kudzu bug is nevertheless a nuisance pest due to it’s habit of congregating on sun-warmed surfaces, white surfaces and hiding in the cracks of a home to remain dormant during the cold months. Unfortunately their signature smell is produced even when the bug is crushed, which can lead to a very unpleasant experience for anyone living in an infested house.
In the wild, the kudzu bug lives in gatherings on the plants they infest. The females lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, which offers the offspring some protection from the elements and predators. While experts are certain that the species does feed on such plants as legumes and kudzu, they are not yet sure what other species of plants are potential hosts. Kudzu bugs have only so far been observed in the warmer, more tropically environment states of the southeastern United States, but they have spread upwards and outwards from their original discovery site at a fairly rapid rate.
The kudzu bug is a sucking insect that can harm commercial crops by their feeding habits, but are observed to visibly retard the growth of another invasive species of plant: the kudzu vine. As the kudzu vine is also an invasive species, it has been speculated that the kudzu beetle might be a way to control this seriously out of control plant species. However, this help comes at the cost of crop damage to soybeans and other legumes, which produce reduced crops yields when they are infested by this type of pest. While they will invade the home, this does not appear to be motivated by a need to food.
Treatment and Prevention
Unfortunately, because of the pervasive and stubborn nature of this pest, once they have invaded a home the only sure way to be rid of them is to eliminate their means of gaining access to a home. As not a great deal is known about the species yet and there have been reports of their defensive spray causing redness and a burning sensation is some cases, it is best to leave dealing with this species to a professional.