The Union Recorder

Local News

February 11, 2013

Experts predict kudzu bugs to be out in force soon

ATLANTA — With spring on the horizon, entomologists predict that swarms of kudzu bugs will be out in force soon.

The bug destroys kudzu, but it also likes soybeans and ornamental flowers. For anyone with a white house, watch out: the kudzu bug is inexplicably attracted to light colors and may try to burrow into the attic for the winter.

Like kudzu, the bugs came from Asia, probably Japan, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported (http://tinyurl.com/afkhv5p ). Scientists theorize they hopped a flight to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

They produce a smell that can be fairly offensive, said Joe Eger, an entomologist with an expertise on stinkbugs.

Aside from the annoyance of its smell, the insect also poses a potential threat to farmers, especially those who grow soybeans, experts say.

"We take that very seriously," said Tracie Jenkins, an associate professor of entomology at the University of Georgia's Griffin campus. Jenkins is working with specialists at Emory and the University of Montana to learn more about the bug.

University of Georgia tests indicate that the bug can cut soybean yields by 20 to 25 percent. In 2012, Georgia farmers grew nearly 8 million bushels of soybeans worth about $120 million. A 25 percent reduction would equal $30 million.

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