Kudzu — the “plant that ate the South” — has finally met a pest that’s just as voracious. Trouble is, the so-called “kudzu bug” is also fond of another East Asian transplant that we happen to like, and that is big money for American farmers: soybeans. (AP)
Kudzu bug (shown to the right in a photo by Phillip Roberts, University of Georgia) has recently been confirmed on kudzu from several North Carolina counties where it was not previously found. In addition, it has been reported on a legume from the North Carolina Arboretum, although this has not been confirmed. Soybean is the main agronomic host for this insect, but it will feed on many other legumes. This insect (aka bean plataspid, Megacopta cribraria Fabricus) was found on flowering volunteer soybean plants on June 10 in Union County by a Wingate University researcher, Erika Scocco, collecting kudzu bug for a molecular study. This is the first confirmed sighting of this insect on soybean in our state.
In North Carolina, the pattern of spread is mirroring that of South Carolina in 2010. This insect feeds on the stems and leaves, and may come into our soybean fields earlier, rather than later, during the season.
So far, kudzu bug has been relatively easy to kill with insecticides (except with neonicotinoids), but will often reinvade. A preliminary economic threshold, based on Georgia data, is one bug per sweep with large nymphs present, or three bugs per plant with large nymphs present.