Researchers from the University of Georgia (UGA) and Dow AgroSciences have identified a kudzu-eating pest in northeast Georgia that has never been found in the Western Hemisphere. Unfortunately, the bug also eats legume crops, especially soybeans.
The bug has tentatively been identified as the bean plataspid (Megacopta cribraria), a native to India and China. It is pea-sized and brownish in color with a wide posterior, says Dan Suiter, UGA entomologist. “It kind of waddles when it walks on a surface, but it flies really well,” he says.
It's also commonly called lablab bug and globular stink bug. Like its distant cousin the stink bug, when threatened, it releases a chemical that stinks.
Suiter says the pest's populations are, for now, contained to northeast Georgia. It's an “invasive species feeding on an invasive species.”
Introduced to the U.S. in 1876 from Japan, kudzu was planted in the 1930s to control soil erosion. It now tops the nation's invasive species list.