Insect Identification logo

Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria)

Detailing the identifying qualities of the Kudzu Bug, including physical features and territorial reach.

 Updated: 12/4/2013; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Kudzu Bug  
Picture of Kudzu-Bug

The invasive Kudzu Bug helps eat the invasive Kudzu vine, but it is not stopping there.

The Kudzu Bug is an Asian import that has helped curb the growth of the plant-suffocating Kudzu vine, which also originates from Asia. Southeastern U.S. states like Georgia have been decimated by the Kudzu vine as its rapid, blanket-like growth over shrubs and trees ends up starving the native plants to death. The Kudzu bug sucks the plant juices from the vine, starving it to death. Large populations of Kudzu Bugs have effectively destroyed large swaths of Kudzu vine.

The Kudzu Bug, however, is being carefully watched. There is concern that it may start eating other plants in addition to the Kudzu vine. Soybean crops and other legumes, like peanuts, are being monitored. Such potential cash crop decimation would be disastrous economically.

The USDA is currently researching the effectiveness of importing the Kudzu Bug's natural enemy, a parasitic wasp, to the U.S.. Before such an import is made, much research is performed to ensure the wasp does not become a pest as well.

Kudzu Bugs can emit a strong, foul-smelling odor when bothered. The Kudzu Bug is a social insect and forms large congregations, making its chemical emissions quite noxious to humans. These cluster tend to be attracted to light colored buildings, including homes. While they do not destroy buildings, they can seek shelter inside the walls of them, which can bring the odor indoors. Crushing them not only emits the odor, the chemical components of it may cause skin irritation. Their bodies also tend to leave a stain on the wall or surface. General pesticides have been effective in killing them, but large infestations may require a professional exterminator.

The Kudzu Bug is a member of the Shield bug family and its body is somewhat round, giving it a resemblance to lady bugs, although its overall shape is broader at the bottom and less spherical. Some would say the shape is more akin to a shield. It also has a small plate in the middle of its back, above the elytra (wing coverings).

Females lay rows of small, white capsule-like eggs on the bottom of leaves. The nymphs (juveniles) have similar body shapes to adults, but the coloring and presence of hairy spines might lead one to think they are a different insect.

Kudzu Bug Information

Category: True Bug
Common Name: Kudzu Bug
Scientific Name: Megacopta cribraria
Other Name(s): Lablab Bug, Globular Stink Bug, Bean Plataspid

Taxonomy Hierarchy

 Arrow graphic Kingdom: Animalia
  Arrow graphic Phylum: Arthropoda
   Arrow graphic Class: Insecta
    Arrow graphic Order: Hemiptera
     Arrow graphic Family: Plataspididae
      Arrow graphic Genus: Megacopta
       Arrow graphic Species: cribraria

Size, Identifying Tags and Territorial Reach

Size (Adult, Length): Size (Adult, Length): 3 mm to 6 mm (0.117 inches to 0.234 inches)
Identifying Colors: green, brown, black
Additional Descriptors: harmful, stinky, smelly, round

North American Territorial Reach (Though Not Limited To): Alabama; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Mississippi; North Carolina; South Carolina; Virginia; West Virginia

A Note About Territorial Reach: Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above. Insects are driven by environmental factors, food supplies and mating patterns and do not nescessarily work within hard-and-fast territorial lines like we humans do.

BugFinder: What is it?