Farmers in the Southeast have a new pest to contend with. First detected in Georgia in the fall of 2009, the “kudzu bug” – Megacopta cribraria − is wasting little time moving through all of South Carolina, most of Georgia and North Carolina, and several counties in Alabama and Virginia.
In addition to kudzu it feeds on legumes, especially soybeans, a crop valued at $139 million in South Carolina. Average yield loss for untreated soybeans has been observed at 20% in South Carolina and Georgia but losses could be as high as 50%.
Clemson scientists are researching cultural and biological methods to control the kudzu bug and working with chemical companies to add the pest to their insecticide labels.
Early research indicates that some insecticides can control the pest, including neonicotinoids and pyrethroids. Additional research is needed to identify which treatments are most effective at various stages in the growing season and under various growing conditions.
Scientists are in the early stages of identifying biological controls. There are commonly occurring natural enemies in the kudzu bug’s native Asia, which could shape control efforts in the Southeastern U.S.