The kudzu bug is another invasive insect from Asia that has the potential to become a serious crop pest. It was first found in the Atlanta, GA, area in 2009, and has now spread into six states: Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. It is not a stinkbug but is related to them and looks similar to our native stinkbugs but bulkier. The hind end of the bug is squared off giving it a boxy appearance.
The kudzu bug does feed on kudzu and its feeding appears to have an ill effect on kudzu, making it a beneficial insect. However, it does feed on other legumes such as wisteria, soybeans and potentially other leguminous crops. It has been shown to reduce soybean yields as much as 47% in Georgia by sucking plant sap from the leaf veins with its beak. There is a close association of the bug with kudzu, but it can reproduce on wisteria as well. The question is how much of a problem will the kudzu bug be without the presence of kudzu. New Jersey does have a few sites infested with kudzu, but the state has a lot of wisteria.
One thing is certain, the kudzu bug population can spread rapidly. The adults are strong fliers and are attracted to white objects, including homes and vehicles. According to a fact sheet from North Carolina the kudzu bug can hitch-hike on vehicles, probably enhancing its ability to move about. Given its range expansion so far, it is likely that we’ll be finding our first bugs in another year or two. Like the brown marmorated stinkbug, the kudzu bug also overwinters in homes.
Most likely we will be having more information to share in another year. For more detailed information on this potential pest go to http://ipm.ncsu.edu/cotton/insectcorner/PDF/Kudzu%20Bug%20Handout_Field%20Crops.Final.pdf