What is a kudzu bug?

The kudzu bug is a small yellowish green lady-beetle-like insect. However, they are not a beetle, but a true stink bug with sucking mouths that sip the juice from plants.

They like to aggregate in clusters and release a very strong, foul odor that you can smell several feet away.

Kudzu bugs are also called lablab bugs, bean bugs, globular stink bugs, and bean plataspids.

Are they a new pest and where did they come from?

Yes, the kudzu bug is a new pest for us in the United States. Many new people are being introduced to it every day. We will all have to learn the best ways to deal with it.

The kudzu bug is native to Asia. Genetic markers indicate this bug was likely introduced from Japan.

When did they get here and how widely spread are they now?

It was first reported in Georgia in 2009 and spread to Alabama in October 2010. Since then, it has been spreading like wildfire. By the end of June, it has been confirmed in more than 430 counties across 9 Southern region states. They are in all but 53 counties in Alabama right now.

(You might also like Alabama soybean growers getting good look at kudzu bug infestations).

How do they spread so rapidly?

Many factors aid in their fast dispersal:

• Hitchhiking on vehicles, airplanes, shipments of products and equipment, and even humans;

• They are strong flyers themselves, capable of flying at least a couple of miles;

• They are attracted to white and lightly-colored surfaces;

• Propensity to migrate;

• Diverse and flexible life history and rapid population growth rate;

• Availability of primary hosts — kudzu plants and soybean crops;

• Most interestingly, the new finding in my lab shows a majority of the adult females become fertilized before over-wintering. A single pregnant female can lay egg masses in a new location without the presence of male.