“We don’t know what kudzu bugs will do this year to yields,” Reisig said. “We’re taking calls on a case-by-case basis. We give growers the information we have and let them decide what to do.”

Reisig and Jack Bacheler, North Carolina Cooperative Extension entomologist and North Carolina State professor, have developed a fact sheet about treating crops to protect against this pest. Entomologists in North and South Carolina and Georgia are collaborating to come up with answers for growers.

The kudzu bug’s preference for various types of plants seems to be controlled by bacteria that the insect carries on its body. The bacteria are also deposited when the kudzu bug lays its eggs to give offspring some direction on food preferences.

In Japan, the kudzu bugs don’t seem to have a preference for soybeans, but here, it eats any type of legume. “So the question is, how did it get bacteria that makes it feed on soybeans?” Reisig asks.

For homeowners, kudzu bugs pose different problems, said Mike Waldvogel, North Carolina Cooperative Extension entomologist and North Carolina State associate professor. This time of year, homeowners may find them feeding on wisteria or simply congregating on home siding. They seem to be attracted to light colored surfaces, he said. They also congregate on plants they don’t feed on, including those mentioned above.

“It’s a new pest. We’re still getting a feel for what chemicals are most effective in controlling it,” he said.

Waldvogel cautions homeowners against spraying insecticide on overhead surfaces like siding, where residues will certainly fall back on the person applying the pesticide and also run off into storm water.

Some North Carolina homeowners have reported finding kudzu bugs congregating on wisteria. To treat the insects on outdoor plants like wisteria and ornamental fruit trees, Waldvogel recommends using an insecticide labeled for the particular type of plant that is infested.

In the fall, homeowners may find the bugs congregating indoors, and again, Waldvogel cautions against using pesticides to kill the bugs inside the home. The first line of defense is sealing gaps and openings (around plumbing and air conditioner lines) to prevent the bugs from entering the home.

One effective approach is to vacuum them up and throw out the bag, as described in a North Carolina Cooperative Extension fact sheet http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/kudzubug.htm.

Waldvogel also recommends contacting your local county Extension center for the latest information on controlling this pest. To find your county center, visit: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/counties.

While kudzu bugs don’t bite like mosquitoes, bedbugs or ticks, they can cause skin irritation. Whether through a bite or skin reaction, anecdotal reports indicate that welts can appear on skin where the kudzu bugs are encountered, Waldvogel said.

More information about kudzu bugs on crops can be found at http://ipm.ncsu.edu/cotton/insectcorner/PDF/Kudzu%20Bug%20Handout_Field%20Crops.Final.pdf.

More information for homeowners about controlling kudzu bugs is athttp://insects.ncsu.edu/Urban/kudzubug.htm.