How to Get Kudzu Bugs Under Control When They’re Out of Control

Megacopta_cribraria Kudzu Bug Alabama

They’re back. We’re not referencing the iconic scene from Poltergeist, though the problem could be just as frightening. The kudzu bugs are everywhere in Alabama again this year. The pests are hitching rides on vehicles, clothing and anything else they can land on.

If you live in the Heart of Dixie you’ve probably started to see these pesky bugs gathering together in huge numbers. Before you start swatting, check out our guide to kudzu bugs and the best practices for controlling them.

What Are Kudzu Bugs and Where the Heck Did They Come From

Kudzu bugs are a type of stink bug. Yep, you may smell them before you see them. But they have a unique look that isn’t hard to identify. Here are a few kudzu bug characteristics:

  • Olive green coloring with brown spots
  • Round shape that’s squared off on the bottom
  • Small – just 3.5 to 6mm long
  • Broader at the bottom than the top
  • Seam running across the plate

Just a few years ago kudzu bugs were unheard of in Alabama. That’s because they weren’t here. They were half way across the world in Asia, their native region.

But somehow they hopped a ride across an ocean and ended up in Georgia in 2009. These bugs got busy right away laying eggs and migrating out farther across the south. By 2010 the first signs of kudzu bugs were in Alabama. In 2012 they were found in 43 counties. Needless to say kudzu bugs are a growing problem.

The Problems with Kudzu Bugs

At first it may seem like kudzu bugs are good Samaritans providing a valuable service – getting rid of kudzu. But that’s not all they eat. These pests will devour soybeans and other legumes as well. This has been a huge problem for farmers and gardeners in Alabama.

Kudzu bugs secrete a foul odor that not only smells bad, but can also leave a mark. The secretion can stain just about any surface, even skin. They are attracted to light colors, which makes their smelly, messy secretion all the more annoying.

If they stayed outside kudzu bugs may not be so bad. But during the fall they start seeking out shelter for the winter. Like other stink bugs, the kudzu bug likes shacking up in a warm house during the cold months.

How to Control Kudzu Bugs

Below you’ll find a list of tips on how to control and get rid of kudzu bugs if they’ve decided to make your house their winter home.

  • Keep Them Outside – Seal around windows and doors as well as the foundation. They love hiding in cracks so sealing will make your house less desirable.
  • Check Before You Go Inside – Give yourself a once over before you enter your home. Kudzu bugs don’t mind landing right on people and riding on them inside.
  • Replace Beat Up Screens – If your screen has even a small hole or doesn’t sit flush with the window or door replace it with a new one.
  • Don’t Smash Them – Squashing kudzu bugs will produce a rancid odor that you don’t want to deal with. Instead suck them up with a vacuum if they’re inside. Just make sure they go in a bag and not through the motor.
  • Use Outside Insecticide – If kudzu bugs are setting up shop on the side of your home or decking pyrethroid insecticides can be used to kill them. Just be very careful as these can contaminate water and have to be sprayed directly on the bug to be effective.
  • Call for Help if it’s Bad – If you find a whole swarm in your home it may be time to get help from your Alabama professionals at Vulcan Termite and Pest Control, Inc.
  • Be diligent – Until mid-November or later lots and lots of kudzu bugs will be flying around. The chance for getting more than one infestation is high.

There may be help from nature right around the corner. Researchers at Auburn University recently discovered that wasps will lay their eggs inside of the kudzu eggs, destroying a fair amount of the pests before they are even born. Another predator was also recently discovered –a parasitic fly that preys on adult kudzu bugs. If you see wasps or flies let them be, and they may help you with your kudzu bug problem.

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