As the temperature began to rise, the phone lines at our office lit up with questions about this small brown beetle (scientific name, Megacopta cribraria) that seemed to be swarming around Paulding County. The kudzu bug is a small beetle that is often described as looking much like a brown ladybug. An invasive species that was found in Georgia for the first time in 2009, its numbers seem to be rising each year.
I know that it is unnerving to see large numbers of any insect swarming, especially when they seem to be on your home or trying to get inside your home. However, this insect cannot do any structural harm to your home, it cannot bite you and it poses no threat other than the fact that it is a member of the stink bug family and can emit a foul smelling odor if it is crushed. Let me level with you … it is a nuisance, but it does not really warrant the application of pesticides to your home.
The kudzu bug, or bean plataspid, is a pest of kudzu, and like kudzu, it is a non-native invasive species. It is now emerging from its overwintering place and going in search of actively growing Kudzu patches where it prefers to live and eat during the warmer months. The good news is that means it is leaving your home, rather trying to invade. The bad news is that it will likely return to overwinter in October and cause the same fear in those who are not fans of mass quantities of insects around their homes.
The advice I have given most people I have spoken with over the last few days is to wait patiently. The emergence will probably last about a month and then the kudzu bug will live the summer happily in its kudzu patch. You can spray the outside of your home with a general use insecticide labeled for outdoor use, but you will likely see that this does not give you long-term relief. They will probably be back the next day. Indoors, vacuum these beetles up. That will help prevent the smell and staining that can occur if you try to squash them! Get rid of the vacuum bag after you have cleaned them up, as it may smell a little musty.
There is the possibility that these critters might eat other plants in the kudzu family, like your garden-variety green beans. So if you grow a vegetable garden, monitor it this summer for these potential pests as chemical control in this situation may be warranted. Check back with me for recommendations if that happens!
For more information from our Bug Specialists at the University of Georgia on the kudzu bug, you can read our publication titles “Megacopta cribraria, a Nuisance Pest” online: http://www.caes.uga.edu/Publications/pubDetail.cfm?pk_id=7891
Remember, you can ask a Master Gardener or the County Extension Agent at 770-443-7616 or online at http://www.caes.uga.edu/extension/paulding/askanexpert.html.
Master Gardeners welcome your gardening questions and requests for information on specific topics. We are here to help you with your gardening questions.