Facts, Identification & Control
Kudzu bugs are a type of insect known as a true bug because of their semimembranous wing type and piercing sucking mouth parts. They are approximately 4 to 6 mm long as adults and are a mottled green and brown color. Many people mistake them for beetles, but they can easily be differentiated by their beaklike piercing sucking mouthparts. Beetles all have chewing mouthparts.
Kudzu bugs get their name from the fact they are known to feed on kudzu. They use their piercing mouthparts to suck juices from the plant. Unfortunately they also feed on other plants, including crops such as soybeans, which results in them being considered an agricultural pest.
Behavior, Diet & Habits
Kudzu bugs are a recent addition to the U.S. list of invasive species. They were first sighted in Georgia in 2009 and are suspected to originate from Asia. Currently they have spread through several southeastern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
Homeowners usually are more concerned with kudzu bugs because of their overwintering habits similar to boxelder bugs, cluster flies and Asian multicolored lady beetles. During the warm summer months, people do not see the bugs. Once fall temperatures start dropping, kudzu bugs congregate in massive numbers on sun-exposed surfaces to warm themselves. Next they locate sheltered voids, cracks and crevices to survive the winter, which can include people’s homes. Once indoors, they do not feed or reproduce. They are dormant during the winter, unless there is a warm day, and will vacate the building with the warmth of the spring.
Having potentially thousands of bugs crawling throughout the home is a traumatic experience for homeowners. The bugs also have an alarming chemical defense. When disturbed they release an unpleasant smell. One bug is slightly smelly but it can be quite pungent when large numbers release the chemical. Homeowners who experience kudzu bugs should contact an exterminator who can advise them on possible preventatives such as sealing openings and pesticide applications to surfaces, crevice and wall voids.
Kudzu bug females typically lay their eggs on the underside of the host plants. Nymphs hatch and begin feeding on the plants. Eventually they mature into adults, reproduce and start the life cycle anew.
Signs of a Kudzu Infestation
The mass sightings of the adults is the most disturbing sign for homeowners. If large numbers are disturbed, they can produce a strong odor. Host plants also may show sign of damage as the bugs feed.
Kudzu bugs have become another overwintering pest alongside boxelder bugs, stink bugs and multicolored Asian lady beetles. If a homeowner experiences and invasion of any of these pests, it is best to contact a pest control professional.