Red Alert: Kudzu Bug
By George Giltner, Adv. Master Gardener
Another invasive bug is spreading though the Southeast US, but this one doesn’t just stay outside. In the fall months, the Kudzu Bug (Megacopta cribraria), begins seeking nice warm places to overwinter – your home. White walls, curtains, and trim are particularly attractive. Typically they come in large numbers where excrement causes brown stains on fabrics and walls. If they land on skin, it may also be stained, plus some people are even blistered.
The Kudzu bug could develop into a real problem for us in Louisiana. Therefore report sightings and any infestation to the LSU AgCenter. Not only do these bugs like your house in winter, in the spring your yard and garden are their new habitat where they feast on kudzu, wisteria, beans, and many other legume plants.
An ID is made by of the mature adults by its squared off shape, olive green to brown color and its ¼ inch diameter size. The immature bugs are also boxy, but they are also hairy. The light brown and barrel shaped eggs are usually laid in parallel rows.
How do you control this midget, boxy stinkbug if they get in your home? First, don’t squish them or spray them as body secretions can stain and release foul odors. Your best bet is to use a wet capable shop vac. Add a few drops of soap in about an inch of water in the bottom of the shop vacuum for a drowning solution. Then use the vacuum at will. Second, seal off the entry point where they entered. Calking, screening, window and door sealing are good energy savers and bug invader preventers.
For the yard, common insecticides that are designated for specific plants can be used. The best time for spraying is in the evening before dark with cool temperatures. Most current insecticides degrade with light, moisture, and high temperatures. Bugs on the side of buildings can be sprayed, but limit the sprayed area to that occupied by the invading bugs.
If you have an overwhelming problem with kudzu bugs, call a professional exterminator. And again, inform the LSU AgCenter in order to track the degree of this invasion. As of August 2014, several eastern Parishes have confirmed the distribution is progressing in a western direction.