“If you spray too soon, you’ll keep spraying, because they’ll keep coming. We don’t want to create a problem by spraying for really low numbers and risk flaring bollworms, loopers, and other pests.

“Our recommendation is to hold off making an insecticide application until you find one kudzu bug nymph per sweep, or 5 adults per plant during vegetative stages.

 “Pyrethroids work well to control this pest,” Catchot says. “I really don’t think it’s going to be a hard pest to deal with.”

 

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And, he says, Mid-South growers have the benefit of extensive grower/research experience in Georgia, where kudzu bugs were found in 2009. From there, they have been “spreading at an exponential rate. It’s unbelievable how rapidly this pest reproduces.

“Three years later, in 2012, it was found in four counties in Mississippi, and it continues moving super-fast. Tom Allen [associate Extension/research professor at the Delta Research and Extension Center] has done a lot of work in documenting the spread of this pest as he traveled around the state examining kudzu for Asian soybean rust.

“We sprayed about 2,500 acres last year south of Interstate Highway 20, and I expect this is going to be the norm for growers in a few years.”

While feeding by kudzu bugs can damage soybean plants, Catchot says “it takes an awful lot of them to do it. They don’t feed on the pods, but prefer to feed on petioles and stems. They cause yield loss by sucking the overall vigor of the plant.”

Unlike most pests that are only a problem in crop fields, he says kudzu bugs can also be a significant problem for homeowners, public buildings, etc.

“In massive numbers, they’re hard to deal with in those situations. And they stink. In the Southeast, they’ve shut down convention centers, churches, and other public places.”

In such situations, entomologists recommend proactive measures — sealing cracks and other entry points to keep the bugs out — rather than insecticide use.

 

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