University of Georgia researcher John Ruberson is looking for natural enemies of the kudzu bug in an effort to fight the pest’s spread across the Southern states.

A tiny Asian wasp may be the best option.

The kudzu bug was first spotted in Georgia in the fall of 2009. It feeds on kudzu, soybeans and other legumes and has become a nuisance to homeowners and a threat to international trade as an agricultural contaminant.

A test run

This summer in collaboration with colleagues Walker Jones, of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service in Stoneville, Miss. and Jeremy Greene of Clemson University, Ruberson plans to test the effectiveness of an egg parasitoid as a kudzu bug control method.

A parasitoid is an organism that spends the immature portion of its life attached to or within a single host organism causing the host to die. Ruberson’s parasitoid of choice is Paratelenomus saccharalis, a tiny wasp no larger than the period at the end of this sentence.

The wasp lays its own egg in each kudzu bug egg, and the developing wasp larva destroys the kudzu bug egg as it develops. And, the wasp doesn’t sting humans.