There is a relatively new pest that is making itself a well-known, and unwelcome, guest to residents throughout the southeast.
You may or may not have heard of “kudzu bugs,” but if you live in Georgia, South Carolina or North Carolina, there is a good chance you have encountered these annoying little critters. First noted in 2009 – in northeast Georgia – the megacopta cribraria (its full name), also known as the bean plataspid, lablab bug, and globular stink bug, has gained considerable notoriety for the economic problems it causes for farmers and gardeners.
Make no mistake, however, the megacopta cribraria/kudzu bug is a nuisance to all types of home and property owners, as it swarms in early spring (generally March) and fall (mid-October through late November). Its presence has expanded rapidly since 2009, and since it generally utilizes kudzu and soybeans as its main hosts (it also eats wisteria) – both plants are prevalent throughout the southeast – it is likely to continue its rapid invasion.
The reason for the kudzu bug’s annoyances are many, but, largely they are a problem because of their smell. Related to the local “stink bugs” the megacopta cribraria/bean plataspid/kudzu bug can leave their fetid odor on everything, especially if you make the mistake of squashing it. Never squash a kudzu bug.
So, let’s first look at the kudzu bug so that we may identify it, and then we’ll look at how to deal with these nuisances.
Identifying kudzu bugs
Adult kudzu bugs/megacopta cribraria are 3.5 to 6 mm long – about the size of a lady bug – oblong, olive-green colored with brown speckles, and produce a mildly offensive odor when disturbed.
They can fly and do swarm, especially when they first emerge from dormancy in the spring and again in the fall, as they search for new food sources, typically kudzu and soybean plants, which are present throughout their main areas of infestation in Georgia and South Carolina.
However, kudzu bugs are also known to swarm houses in large numbers, especially when they are looking for places to bed down for the winter and invade any crevice they can find. They love cracks and crevices outdoors, meanwhile, when indoors, they leave behind odors and stains.
Kudzu bugs are attracted to light-colored surfaces, especially the color white: the white siding of a house, a white car, a white shirt, etc. Even though kudzu bugs only reproduce on plants known as legumes, it is not uncommon to find them on most types of vegetation when large numbers are present.
This pest has spread rapidly since first earning notice in northeast Georgia, including in Hall, Gwinnett, Jackson, Barrow and DeKalb counties, spreading throughout Georgia and then the southeastern United States, especially through South Carolina.
Kudzu bugs do not bite people, they eat plants. However, they can cause people to break out in a rashes and allergic hives and then, of course, there’s that foul odor. Their bodies will also leave stains on your skin, carpets or other materials if you crush them. So, how do you deal with a kudzu bug infestation?
How to get rid of and discourage kudzu bugs
The best method of dealing with a problem is always prevention, and that is certainly the case with this pest.
The best method to bug-proofing your house against kudzu bugs lies in eliminating any small crevices, holes or inviting spots where it might like to lodge.
The best time to prepare for keeping kudzu bigs out is in the summer, when they will be busy eating plants and not swarming houses as much.
- Place screening over possible routes of insect entry into the house
- Check to make sure screens on windows are well-seated and without holes
- Check to make sure soffit, ridge, and gable vents are properly screened
- Stuff steel wool into openings where screening cannot be used, such as around pipe penetrations
- Make sure doors establish a tight seal when closed
- Install doorsweeps
There are available pesticides that you can purchase to get rid of kudzu bugs but those typically require frequent re-application.
If all else fails, please contact a professional pest-control specialist.
So, what happens if kudzu bugs do invade or get inside your home anyway? How should you deal with a tiny bug that you cannot (or at least should not) squish?
Get your vacuum cleaner ready.
It’s not entirely as simple as sucking them up – as vacuum cleaners can also cause the bugs to be squished inside the machine, creating the very problem you were trying to avoid. But there is a way to suck them up and trap them, while keeping them whole.
Take a stocking or pantyhose leg and place it in your vacuum tube hose and then secure the other end to the lip of the tube with a rubber band. This way you can suck up the bugs and catch them before they reach the motor of the vacuum. Once caught place the bugs in hot, soapy water.
Eradicating the kudzu bug on structures can be frustrating for homeowners and pest management professionals alike. Their numbers alone, combined with nearby sources of re-infestation – i.e. kudzu and/or soybeans – can make sustained control difficult. Ultimately, you must eliminate or remove kudzu via herbicide in order to get rid of the pests. If possible, homeowners should try to remove nearby kudzu in the summer.
If you are having problems with kudzu bugs don’t wait for the spring hatching season to talk to a certified pest control expert. Please contact Zone pest solutions today at 770-203-1263. We are based in metro Atlanta and know all about the kudzu bug and other pests and nuisances native to the south.