We have had several phone calls about kudzu bugs congregating on houses and vehicles. Kudzu bugs tend to gather on white or light-colored buildings and vehicles in the fall and can be a nuisance to homeowners. However, we should not blame farmers for this problem.
The kudzu bug, introduced to the United States in 2009, is now found in most North Carolina counties. A true bug roughly the size of a lady beetle, it uses its piercing, sucking mouth parts to rob plants of water and nutrients and can cause significant yield loss.
The kudzu bug is primarily a pest of legumes such as kudzu, wisteria, beans and soybeans. And some growers have observed them feeding on sunflowers. They also seem to like congregating on figs and grapes, but as far as we can tell, they don’t seem to be feeding on these crops. However, this is a new pest, so we don’t yet know all of its hosts, and it might acquire new hosts here in the United States,
Because of the potential reduction in yields from the kudzu bug, the N.C. Cooperative Extension has been educating farmers on scouting techniques and economic thresholds for treating against the bug. For the most part, farmers are doing an excellent job in Johnston County of scouting and controlling kudzu bugs when the threat to crops is greater than the cost of treating.
So why do I have so many on my house? The kudzu bug releases a congregating pheromone that attracts other kudzu bugs to the same area. This pheromone can attract kudzu bugs for miles to an area like the side of your house or your front porch.
Just a few tips to help with the Kudzu bug:
• Cut back any kudzu or wisteria you can.
• Seal cracks and crevices in your home.
• Place screening over possible routes of insect entry into the house.
• Check to make sure screens on windows are well seated and without holes.
• Check to make sure soffit, ridge and gable vents are properly screened.
• Stuff steel wool into openings where screening cannot be used, such as around pipe penetrations.
• Make sure doors establish a tight seal when closed.
• Install door sweeps.
• Clean with soap and water any area inside the house where bugs have appeared.
• Large numbers of bugs should be vacuumed, not sprayed. Use a wet-dry vacuum since the odor will linger in a conventional vacuum cleaner.
• Conventional bug sprays will kill the bugs, but make sure you use one that is safe for plants.
• Avoid squashing the bugs since their residue will leave a stain.
For more information, visit www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/Urban/kudzubug.htm.