Three years ago, I received my first phone call about a mass of small insects (not lady bugs) on the side of a building.
As I expected, the insect in question was megacopta cribraria, also known as the kudzu bug.
The kudzu bug is fairly new to Georgia, but has spread across our state in the past three years.
During the fall months, the insect moves in search of protected sites where it will spend the winter. The mass migration is attracted to light-colored surfaces.
In the spring, the adult insects emerge, lay eggs on kudzu, and begins to increase in number.
In addition to eating kudzu, the insect also infects soybeans. It should be noted, it is not expected that the kudzu bug will ever totally stop the spread of kudzu in Georgia.
The following few tips that homeowners might consider are by the Entomology Department of the University of Georgia:
• Seal, with caulk or screen, all cracks around windows and doors, and make sure there are no gaps under doors and around soffits. Install doorsweeps on all outside doors, if necessary.
• Kudzu bugs should not be killed inside. They should be vacuumed if found inside to prevent the noxious odor/exudate from penetrating and, perhaps, staining indoor surfaces.
• At this time of year (mid-October to mid-November), kudzu bugs are most active in the afternoon as temperatures warm up later in the day. As such, plan outdoor activities in the morning, if possible, or move activities indoors.
• Kudzu bugs can be killed with pyrethroid insecticides applied directly to the insects, e.g., while resting on outside walls. However, given the peak of flight activity currently occurring, homeowners should expect significant re-invasion within a day or so. If homeowners choose to use an insecticide, they must read and follow the product's label (it's the law), and never use a pyrethroid insecticide in an area where it might contaminate water as these insecticides are toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Alternatively, homeowners can contact a local pest management company and have them inspect and evaluate the situation.
No traps have been commercialized (and shown to be effective) in attracting and killing large numbers of kudzu bugs. Scientifically valid chemical attractants have not yet been identified.
The flight will subside, based on our experience, in late November, but the bugs will once again become active and mildly troublesome in the spring of 2012 as they awake from winter slumber. In light of this, if kudzu can be removed from the property, it is recommended that this be done in order to eliminate potential problems next year.
For more information, call the local extension office or read CAES Circular No. 991 caes.uga.edu/publications.
Clark Beusse is the Dawson County extension agent. For more information, call (706)265-2442.