The imported Kudzu Bug eats away at the invasive Kudzu vine, a plant that shrouds trees in net-like ghillie suits.
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 blocking available sunlight, starving the native plants. The Kudzu bug sucks the plant juices from the vine, draining it of nourishment. Large populations of Kudzu Bugs have effectively destroyed large swaths of Kudzu vine. This was the hope and it served its purpose well.
The Kudzu Bug, however, is now 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.
The Kudzu Bug is a member of the Shield bug family and its body is somewhat round, resembling lady bugs, although its overall shape is broader at the bottom and less spherical. 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 totally different insect.
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 noticeable to humans. These clusters tend to be attracted to light colored buildings, including homes. While they do not destroy buildings, they may seek shelter inside the walls of them, which can bring that odor indoors. Crushing them only further diffuses the odor, and the chemical components of it may cause skin irritation. Their guts also tend to leave a stain on the wall or surface so smashing them is not prudent. General pesticides have been effective in killing them, but large infestations may require a professional exterminator.
Scientific Name: Megacopta cribraria
Other Name(s): Lablab Bug, Globular Stink Bug, Bean Plataspid
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 6mm (0.12in to 0.23in)
Note: 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 as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.