Small, brown and ready to pack a punch with its foul smell, the kudzu bug may seem harmless enough, but this little stinker is becoming quite the nuisance. First making its appearance in Georgia back in 2009, these little guys are thought to have migrated to the United States as early as 1998. Fast forward to today, these bugs are increasing in number and making their unwelcomed presence felt both on the exterior and interiors of homes, gardens, cars and more.
While kudzu bugs started off in just a handful of counties, they have now found their way to over 143 counties in Georgia, as well as in other neighboring southern states and even as far up as Virginia.
You’ve probably already encountered several of these insects while stepping out of your front door, and if you’ve had the misfortune to step on one, you’ll know that the liquid they secrete can smell quite terrible. So, what exactly are these kudzu bugs and how can we get rid of them?
A long way from home, the origins of this bug trace back to India and China. Known in the scientific community as Megacopta cribraria, the kudzu bug has a voracious appetite for soybeans and has been known to feed aggressively on the kudzu and wisteria trees found all over Georgia.
Similar in appearance to a beetle, the adult kudzu is often light brown with an olive green tone and about ¼ inch long, with the younger insects having a more “hairy” skin. Where these little guys will really get you is by emitting a foul liquid when directly handled or squished. This can even cause staining and for some more sensitive individuals, blistering and discomfort.
Bad Habits are Hard to Break
In an effort to stay sheltered, the kudzu bug has a natural tendency to gravitate toward cracks and crevices on trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, the cracks and crevices around your home also provide refuge from the environment, which is why you’ll notice these insects around doorframes and windows. With the weather already cooling down, they will be seeking shelter in the warmer areas and are particularly drawn to light colors on houses or even clothing!
Kudzu bugs also have a habit of staying somewhat dormant during the winter months, only to become active again in spring where they will be searching for new vegetation to eat. Besides being a residential nuisance, the recent infestation of kudzu bugs can pose a real threat to untreated crops, especially soybeans. This is concerning to farmers who estimate that losses could surmount to as high as 50%, having an adverse effect on future crops.
No Kudzu Bugs Allowed!
While the thought of getting close to these insects is less than appealing, there are certain control measures you can take to help keep them as far away as possible. Always avoid crushing these bugs as they will leave stains and release the noxious odor that has made them infamous!
Some natural ways to get rid of them are:
- Seal any cracks on the exterior of the home near windows and doors. A good idea is to also make sure that the screens on your doors and windows are free from holes. Keeping them out is key!
- Keep your broom handy to sweep them out immediately. Another option is the use of a shop vacuum. If your vacuum uses water, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons of dish soap helps to kill the bugs on contact. With regular vacuums, it is advisable to discard the vacuum bag right after.
- Try to remove kudzu patches and wisteria trees adjacent to your home, especially in the fall.
If you choose to use chemicals to help control them, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- When spraying trees and vegetation, be sure to check that the insecticide is plant friendly.
- During the fall, spray during the morning time as the bugs tend to be active throughout the day. This will give the chemical time to work properly.
- When spraying indoors, be sure to remove the dead insects immediately, so they do not attract other pests that may feed on them.
- If you feel that the infestation of kudzu bugs is increasingly high and invasive, consider contacting a Truly Nolen pest control professional to help take care of the problem.