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 ©www.InsectIdentification.org
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.