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Invasive species menaces farmers

News Release Distributed 10/14/14

BATON ROUGE, La. – For the past two years, LSU AgCenter scientists have monitored the movement of the kudzu bug since it was discovered in northeast Louisiana.

LSU AgCenter entomologist Jeff Davis said the insect is now shown to be spreading into other areas of the state.

“Since March of this year, we have seen this pest move into the following parishes: Concordia (March 15), West Carroll (July 18), Tangipahoa (August 14), Washington (Sept. 12), West Feliciana (Sept. 18) and East Baton Rouge (Oct. 8),” Davis said.

In East Baton Rouge Parish, the insect was found in soybeans at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens, Davis said. “This was the first time that we’ve seen the kudzu bug reproducing in soybean.”

This pest originated in Asia and has been on a westward course across the U.S. since it was first spotted in Georgia in 2009.

Davis said the first sighting of the pest was near Atlanta’s Hartfield International Airport, which leads him to believe the pest entered this country on shipping containers or luggage.

“This insect is known for catching rides, even though it can fly,” David said. “It is attracted to white objects, so white or other light-colored vehicles would probably be there selection for hitchhiking.”

The name of the insect may be a bit deceiving, since it is also known to feed on the stems of soybean plants.

“This is not a pest that farmers will want around their fields because it is capable of reducing yields by about 20 percent,” he said.

Much like the ladybeetle that it resembles in size, kudzu bugs are known to overwinter in homes as well as in tree bark and under leaves.

Davis said soybean growers have chemicals to control the pest. They are the same as those used to control stinkbugs and some other insects.

“In the home, it’s a different story,” Davis said. “You don’t want to put these powerful insecticides in your home.”

His recommendation is to use a shop vacuum to collect the insects, then place them in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer for a few weeks to kill them.

The kudzu bug is now known to be in Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia.

Davis said it’s not known if this bug survives in colder climates, but kudzu is known to be in areas as far north as Ontario, Canada.

Davis said questions about the kudzu bug can be answered by local LSU AgCenter agents.

Johnny Morgan

Last Updated: 10/14/2014 12:50:03 PM

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