Kudzu Bug In Garden – How To Control Kudzu Bugs On Plants

5475141 SMPT
5475141 SMPT
(Image credit: Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org)

Unless you live in the South, you may never have heard of kudzu or kudzu bugs. Kudzu is an invasive weed native to Asia, sometimes referred to as ‘the vine that ate the South.’ The kudzu bugs are also invaders from Asia, and they love to suck the juices from kudzu plants.

While one invasive species eating another doesn’t seem so bad, kudzu bugs also eat plants that gardeners love. That means seeing kudzu bugs on plants is definitely not a welcome site. Read on for information on kudzu bug control including tips for getting rid of kudzu bugs.

Kudzu Bugs on Plants

The kudzu bug is a “true bug” about the size of a ladybug but dark in color. It uses piercing mouthparts to suck water and nutrients from plants. If you’ve noted kudzu bugs on plants in your garden, you might be quite upset. Although few gardeners care if these pests chow down invasive kudzu plants, other better loved plants are also at risk.

If you spot a kudzu bug in garden beds, there are likely to be more bugs on your plants. Like other garden pests, they usually do not travel alone, and masses of these bugs can really impact a crop.

The kudzu bug is known to prefer eating legume plants, like kudzu, wisteria, beans, and soybeans. Since this is a relatively new pest to this country, growers are not certain about what other crops might prove to be hosts. However, kudzu bug damage on edamame and soybeans causes enormous yield losses. They can cause up to 75 percent yield loss in soybeans.

Do Kudzu Bugs Bite?

Experts say that kudzu bugs will not harm you if you come in contact with them. They are, however, members of the stink bug family and smell awful if you squish them. Also, if you slap or crush a bug with your bare hands, they may burn or irritate the skin. The chemicals they release can also discolor your skin.

How to Control Kudzu Bugs

Unfortunately, the only truly effective kudzu bug control measures available to date are synthetic chemical pesticides. To control kudzu bugs on bean family plants, you’ll need to use insecticide sprays containing a synthetic pyrethriod as the active ingredient like bifenthrin, permethrin, cyfluthrin, and lamda-cyhalothrin.

Currently, getting rid of kudzu bugs by organic controls is difficult and time consuming. If you are wondering how to get rid of kudzu bugs without chemicals, you can brush feeding kudzus into pails of soapy water. Squishing them is effective but slow work and you’ll want to wear gloves.

Researchers are currently working on biological controls to use for getting rid of kudzu bugs. The plan is to release in the near future a parasitic wasp that targets kudzu bug eggs. That will provide another answer.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.