A new insect pest has spread north from Georgia into South Carolina. It is considered an invasive insect pest because it is from other parts of the world and had not been found in North America prior to 2009.

In 2009, University of Georgia researchers found the new insect pest — called the bean plataspid — in north Georgia.

The good news is that these bugs feed on kudzu and could possibly be a biocontrol agent for the invasive weed. In fact, they fancy kudzu so much that they should perhaps be called the ‘kudzu bug’. The bad news is that they also attack other legumes, especially soybeans.

These new insects are distant cousins to stink bugs that cause problems in cotton and soybeans around the Southeast.

Feeding damage on soybeans in North America has not yet been documented, but bean plataspids cause sucking damage on legume crops — similar to the way green and brown stink bugs feed. However, the bean plataspid feeds on stems and leaves rather than on pods and seeds.

Clemson University entomologist Jeremy Greene says, “The bean plataspid, Megacopta cribraria, has been found in 13 counties in South Carolina. It is likely to spread quickly to other areas of South Carolina,” he says.