How much economic damage kudzu bugs may cause in future years is difficult to determine, Reisig says.

“First, we saw the behavioral pattern changed this year. The open question is how much damage can these bugs do, if they appear again in field crops in the spring. This spring occurrence is totally different than what we’ve seen in the past, so we really don’t know what the potential is for crop damage, he adds.

Second, University of Georgia Entomologist Phillip Rogers reported lower populations of kudzu bug in Georgia this year. Does this signal that kudzu bugs, which are migrating rapidly from south to north, have reached their peak in the southern end of their habitat and will continue to taper off as the migration moves northward?

“We don’t know whether this was just a lower kudzu bug year? Or, is this insect like the cereal leaf beetle, in that it moves in and it’s trouble for a while. Then, natural enemies begin to take a toll and researchers and growers learn how to better manage the problem, so it becomes less of a problem.

“We simply don’t have the history with kudzu bugs in our country to fully answer these questions,” the North Carolina State entomologist says.

“We don’t really know what its geographic boundaries will be. For the first couple of years, kudzu bug seemed to move almost exclusively from south to north. Now, it is reported in Alabama and as far west as Vicksburg, Miss.

“This movement indicates kudzu bugs are excellent hitch hikers. What will this mean?”

 Reisig says this is another unknown that makes predicting occurrence and management strategy so difficult for this insect.

“We know it can build up numbers very quickly and can stay in one location for at least a year. In 2010, Phillip Rogers found two bugs at one location in Georgia. The next year, at the same location, on untreated soybean plots, researchers recorded a 50 percent yield loss.