Two years ago, the kudzu bug arrived in Georgia. It has been aggravating homeowners and feeding on kudzu and soybeans ever since.

Now, some of Georgia’s Latin American trading partners are worried that the legume-eating pest may be headed south.

In February, Honduran officials discovered dead kudzu bugs in a shipping container from Georgia. This led the country to step up inspections of cargo from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama.

Kudzu bug overview

To help Latin American officials prepare for the possible introduction of the pest into their countries, University of Georgia researchers scheduled an informational meeting to share what they have learned about the kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) since it was found in the Southeast.

The goal was to educate the officials, representing various aspects of plant and animal health and international trade, on UGA’s current knowledge of the insect and provide a forum of discussion on trade issues surrounding quarantine concerns of the Honduran government, said Wayne Gardner, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the meeting’s organizer.

Stowaway bugs

“The meeting was prompted by concerns voiced by the Honduran government concerning the interception of two separate container shipments of poultry products from Georgia that reportedly contained dead kudzu bug adults,” Gardner said.

“The second discovery prompted Honduran officials to halt receipt of all container imports from the states of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee.”

More than 4,000 containers from these states were reportedly held at Honduran ports, he said.

Cotton imports affected

“This stance was eased within a few days when Honduran laborers were being sent home as there was no cotton yarn and goods for manufacturers,” Gardner said.

“Ten percent of all containers from these states are now being inspected, while 5 percent of all containers from other parts of the U.S. are routinely inspected.”