Large accumulations of an insect in October 2009 [Megacopta cribraria (F.); Heteroptera: Plataspidae]Kudzu beetles, bean plataspid beetles, lablab beetles or spherical stink bugs have been discovered in nine counties in northeast Georgia. Prior to its discovery in Georgia, M. cribraria was not known to be found in the western hemisphere.
When the insect was discovered in Georgia, it flew from nearby kudzu spots (Pueraria spp.) Onto the outside walls of houses and other structures (Fig. 1). As of September 2010, the insect was confirmed in more than 60 counties in north and central Georgia, as well as in limited ranges in North and South Carolina. As of July 26, 2011, the kudzu bug was well established throughout the southeastern United States (Fig. 2). Adults with Megacopta cribraria are 4 to 6 mm long, elongated, olive-green in color with brown spots and produce a slightly offensive odor when disturbed (Fig. 3). It is related to different types of stink bugs.
In its native Asia, Kudzu is one of the preferred hosts of M. cribraria, an invasive vine that was introduced to the US more than 100 years ago as a ground cover to slow soil erosion, and we believe M. cribraria will continue to do so will spread to most of the areas where kudzu is established.
Annoying plague. In autumn of the year, some insect species, triggered by falling temperatures and day lengths, look for remote places where they spend the winter months protected from low temperatures. In the following spring, hibernating insects recover from their winter inactivity in warm temperatures in order to resume their normal life cycle.
In Georgia, the presence of M. cribraria was first detected when large numbers exhibited this wintering behavior in response to falling temperatures in northern Georgia. The insects moved from nearby kudzu patches to the warm, sunlit south and east exposures of nearby homes. They particularly tend towards light surfaces.
Control. It is important to exclude M. cribraria from entering the house. For example, homeowners should ensure that possible routes of insects entering the home are checked. that screens sit well on windows and have no holes; and that the reveal, ridge and gable openings are properly shielded. In places where a strainer cannot be used, e.g. B. around pipe penetrations, steel wool can be stuffed into these openings to prevent M. cribraria from entering. Finally, the doors should be tightly closed when closed and door openers should be installed.
Getting rid of invading insects in private homes may require an outside wall application of an insecticide spray labeled for outdoor insect control. Unfortunately, reapplication may be required as kudzu and other surrounding vegetation often remain a source of re-infestation. To reduce the frequency of re-applications, long-lasting formulations such as microencapsulated and wettable powder products should be used whenever possible. Always read and follow the directions on the product label when using any insecticide-based product. The use of insecticides to control M. cribraria indoors is not recommended.
Insects that have entered the home should not be crushed as this action can stain the interior surfaces and / or create odors that may be difficult to remove. Rather, insects should be vacuumed and the wrapped insects placed in hot soapy water.
Ultimately, controlling M. cribraria on structures is likely to prove frustrating for both homeowners and pest controllers. The overwhelming number of insects combined with one or more nearby sources can make continued control difficult, unless the kudzu can be physically removed or killed with a herbicide. Ultimately, elimination of M. cribraria from homes requires source reduction.
Dan Suiter and Wayne Gardner are professors of entomology at the University of Georgia, Griffin Campus. Lisa M. Ames is the University of Georgia Insect and Turf Weed Diagnostic. Joe E. Eger is with Dow AgroSciences, Tampa, Florida.
Eger, JE Jr., LM Ames, DR. Suiter, TM Jenkins, DA Rider, and SE Halbert. 2010. Occurrence of the old world bug Megacopta cribraria (F.) (Heteroptera: Plataspidae) in Georgia: a serious intruder and potential legume pest. Insecta Mundi 0121: 1-11.
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Suiter, DR, JE Eger Jr., WA Gardner, RC Kemerait, JN All, PM Roberts, JK Greene, LM Ames, GD Buntin, TM Jenkins, and GK Douce. 2010. Discovery and distribution of Megacopta cribraria (Hemiptera: Heteroptera: Plataspidae) in northeast Georgia. Journal of Integrated Pest Management (in press).