Kudzu Bugs

KUDZU BUGS

Fun Fact: When crushed, Kudzu bugs can stain surfaces and can also cause skin irritation.

Adult Kudzu bugs are from 4 to 6 mm long, oblong, olive-green colored, and produce a mildly offensive odor when disturbed. Megacopta cribraria is the species of nuisance pest more commonly referred to as the Kudzu bug or the globular stink bug. Since kudzu and soybean plants are its two main hosts, the Kudzu bug has gained considerable notoriety for the economic problems it causes growers. However, its initial discovery was as a nuisance to homeowners.

Kudzu bugs are a nuisance to homeowners primarily in the fall and spring. The first peak of activity occurs in the early spring when the Kudzu bugs emerge from over-wintering. As spring progresses and kudzu continues to grow, the bugs become less troublesome for the homeowner, and fewer and fewer numbers will be sighted on homes, vehicles and surrounding landscapes. However, the Kudzu bug will return by June or July with a new generation, or cycle. During these months, the Kudzu bug may become a nuisance to soybean growers as well as home gardeners and organic farmers.

The second peak of nuisance activity occurs in the fall. A combination of day length and a change in kudzu plant physiology, dying host plants, and declining temperatures are thought to be responsible for the second peak of nuisance activity from Kudzu bugs in the fall. The trend so far begins in mid-October and persists until late November or early December.

Kudzu bugs love cracks and crevices outdoors; indoors, they leave behind odors and stains. As stated above, Kudzu bugs are inactive during the winter months, and seek overwintering sites in the fall. These sites include any crack or crevice where a group of bugs can aggregate. Gaps under the bark of trees, gaps under the siding of homes, and high places (such as gutters on the edges of homes) are only a few examples of overwintering sites. Kudzu bugs are also attracted to light-colored surfaces, especially the color white: the white siding of a house, a white car, a white shirt, etc.

Aside from being seemingly everywhere in the fall, Kudzu bugs possess a few other traits that make them a particular nuisance. When a person is exposed to the kudzu bug, an allergic reaction may occur, resulting in staining of the skin and skin irritation. Additionally, the bugs may invade the house if it is not properly sealed. It is important to remember here that Kudzu bugs belong to the same superfamily as stink bugs and have been known to emit an unpleasant odor that can be hard to get out of your nose, your furniture, your carpet, etc. Crushing the bugs thus becomes a problem, as they emit an unpleasant odor and may stain the surface they are crushed upon.

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