Extension office: Beware of kudzu bugs

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 11, 2016

Residential and rural areas will soon be filled with kudzu bugs making a comeback from their overwintering sites. Alabama Extension Entomologist Xing Ping Hu, said there are several ways for kudzu bugs to bother homeowners.

“Kudzu bugs are a nuisance that invades homes, yards and landscapes,” Hu said. “They are more problematic in later fall when they seek protected warm habitats for overwintering, often wandering into homes.”

Hu also said the bugs emit a foul smelling phermone when disturbed. Aside from the smell, the bugs can stain fabric and skin.

Kudzu bugs may invade homes or vehicles, and may also infest tender buds and stems of plants in the back yard or garden landscape.

Recent warm weather has drawn kudzu bugs out of their overwintering sites.

These small, olive green, lady-bug sized bugs are sometimes mistaken for beetles, but piercing-sucking mouthparts set them apart from other pests.


Growth and Activity

As soon as weather warms, kudzu bugs migrate to trees and young plants. Satsumas, figs and other plants with new growth are appealing to kudzu bugs, but are non-host plants.

These fruits and plants will serve as a temporary home for the pests until kudzu and soybean plants are available.

Kudzu bugs will lay eggs on non-host plants, but the eggs will not reach maturity.

Soybean and kudzu plants are host plants, meaning kudzu bugs can lay eggs and raise offspring.

Hu said kudzu bug maturity is dependent on temperature. In summertime temperatures, kudzu bugs can reach maturity in six weeks. During the spring maturity takes much longer.

Kudzu bugs cause plant damage by sucking phloem sap of above-ground plant parts, and feed on young and tender growths, resulting in spots, discoloration, defoliation, improperly developed pods, wilting and poor seed sets.

These pests land on anything light-colored. This includes cars, homes, clothes and people. When landing on clothes or skin, bugs can leave stains, and sometimes cause allergic reactions.


Kudzu Bug Removal

Generally there is no reason for use of pesticides unless a large concentration of the pests is in an area where pesticide use is unlikely to cause issues.

To remove eggs and bugs from plants, use a high-powered hose or soapy water.

Knocking infested plants with a rod to remove bugs is also an easy method of removal. Kudzu bugs play dead when bothered, so it is important to dispose of the bugs properly, either by vacuuming or by immersing them in hot soapy water.

Hu said vacuuming is the best method for removal of pests inside the home.

Crushing them will leave a strong odor and may leave hard-to-remove stains.

She said the bugs also play dead, so sealing kudzu bugs inside a plastic bag can help prevent a re-infestation.

To learn more about kudzu bugs and prevention or removal, contact your the Covington County Extension office at 222-1125.