Frank Herry, with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, collected kudzu bugs from kudzu in Polk County on May 30 and Hamilton and Bradley Counties on May 31.
It was only a matter of time before this invasive insect found its way into our state.
Kudzu bugs were first found in Georgia in 2009 and have spread rapidly to cover most of Georgia and South Carolina. More recently, it has spread into much of North Carolina and several counties in Florida, Alabama, Virginia and now Tennessee.
Kudzu bugs can occur in soybeans at very high numbers, sometimes several hundred or even thousands per 25 sweeps.
This insect has caused documented yield losses in soybeans exceeding 30 percent if heavy infestations go unchecked.
A previous article provides additional information and more photographs (linked below). Also linked below is a website dedicated to kudzu bugs.
Thus far, the kudzu bug’s range in Tennessee is currently limited to areas where few soybeans are grown.
Soybean producers are asked to report any infestations to their local County Extension agent or directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 731-425-4709.
The good news is that my counterparts in the Southeast are gaining good experience on how to manage kudzu bugs in soybeans. There are a number of effective insecticide treatments, and they are getting a good feel for when treatments should be made (at least in their geography).
It appears that one or sometimes two insecticide applications are all that is needed even when populations are very high, but further work is needed.
In the linked article above, you can also read about brown marmorated stink bugs, another exotic pest invading our state. It is spreading more slowly, but is already fairly common in Knox County.
This insect represents a substantial threat to field crops, some vegetable, and tree and small fruits. Fortuntely, their populations are currently low enough that crop losses have not been documented in Tennessee.
Both the brown marmorated stink bug and kudzu bug have the habit of invading houses, particularly in the fall to spend winter. Thus, they can be a substantial nuisance pest.