The South Carolina scientist stresses that researchers are early in their efforts to manage this pest, because it wasn’t even known to exist in the Southeast until the fall of 2009. Since its arrival the kudzu bug has definitely grabbed the attention of entomologists at land-grant universities across the region.

Early tests indicate pyrethroid insecticides work well to control these Asian imports. There are subtle differences that researchers are beginning to find with the pyrethroids, but in such a limited time, it’s difficult to know what will work best at different times and under different growing conditions.

Again, early in the research process, Greene says it appears combinations of pyrethroid and neonicotinoid insecticides work better than either one of the popular families of insecticides work alone.

“In early testing Indigo, a combination of neonicotinoid and pyrethroid chemistries has worked well to control these insects,” Greene notes.

This bug is likely to be an economically important pest in the Southeast, but it can be managed in tandem with other pests that occur in crops. That said, the South Carolina entomologist says in many cases there will be specific applications just to control kudzu bugs, and anytime you have a dedicated spray for one insect, it becomes an economically important pest to growers.

There will be a lot of data available once 2011 tests on kudzu bugs is analyzed, and more so than ever, it will be important for growers to attend regional and county soybean meetings. “The more growers know about the insect, the better they will be able to manage it,” Greene says.

One tool he is working on with colleagues in Mississippi is a biological control of kudzu bugs. There is a native parasitoid that is very specific to the kudzu bug. “Obviously, we are early in the process of figuring out possible biological controls, but kudzu bugs do have a number of commonly occurring natural enemies in Asia that may one day be a big part of our control efforts,” Greene says.

In China, kudzu bug is listed as a pest of grain crops, but not as a major pest. It may be that it has enough natural enemies there to keep it in check. In the U.S. with few native enemies, it is just spreading like wildfire,” he adds.

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