What plants do they infest?

Kudzu bugs are leguminous plant feeders. Their primary host is kudzu plants; that is how they got their name. Of the other leguminous crops, they prefer soybeans to vegetable beans and wisteria vine.

However, they must feed on kudzu or soybeans to be able to reproduce. It is common to see them aggregate and feed on non-legume plants in early spring and late fall when leguminous plants are not available.

If they have been in Alabama since 2010, why the sudden population outbreak in soybean crops this year?

During the first year of invasion, the population was basically limited to kudzu patches. However, because of the exponential growth, over-crowding populations started to move into soybean fields in 2012 and reached peak outbreak this year.

What is the pest status of kudzu bugs?

They were first considered a nuisance pest in residential areas, but are posing a much greater threat than previously thought. In Asian countries, it is a serious pest of soybeans and vegetable beans. Here in the United States, besides yield loss of soybeans, it poses threats to international trade of agricultural products to Central America, and is an urban nuisance.

What damages do they cause in soybean crops?

They are slow feeders, sucking plant juice and gradually drawing down a plant’s vigor. They do not eat holes in leaves and do not take bites from pods or seed.

When do kudzu bugs move onto soybean plants and how long they stay in soybean field?

It depends on whether you have early, middle, or later soybean crops and the climate. We have observed adults of an over-wintering generation move to lay egg masses on early-planted soybean crops when they were about 1 foot tall. Nymphs appeared in late May and by the middle of June, nymph populations had peaked across the entire soybean field. This was also the optimal time for control treatment.

You will see Kudzu bugs in the field until the soybean plants become unsuitable (not enough juice). Last year’s research showed that kudzu bug population was greater in early-planted soybeans rather than later-planted soybeans. We are monitoring kudzu bug population dynamics this year.

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