Reporting Alex DeMetrick
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Right on the heels of the Asian stinkbug invasion comes a new pest. This one’s called the kudzu bug.
Alex DeMetrick reports–it packs a real potential for trouble.
The kudzu vine spread up from the deep south into Maryland years ago. But now something new has arrived: The kudzu bug.
A native of Asia, it hitched a ride with cargo imported to Georgia in 2009. Although small, it breeds in huge numbers. And it’s not pleasant.
“We do have reports from the south of them staining furniture, drapery, wall coverings,” said Dr. Mike Raupp, University of Maryland entomologist. “And if you handle these things, they will stain your skin. And in some cases, they can actually cause severe skin irritation. So this is not going to be a good performer.”
This summer, kudzu bugs were discovered in St. Mary’s, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties–feeding on kudzu vines.
“And if that was just eating kudzu, that wouldn’t be a bad thing,” Raupp said.
The kudzu vine is related to the bean family, which makes the kudzu bug more than just a nuisance.
“But then they moved over to soy beans, and they do a real number on the soy bean plants down in Georgia. The estimated loss is about 20 percent where they occur,” said Dr. Bill Lamp, University of Maryland entomologist.
Which is why the University of Maryland got involved.
“The soy bean growers in Maryland are very concerned about this right now,” said Lamp.
So far, they haven’t been found on Maryland crops, but now’s the time of year they move off kudzu. And like the Asian stinkbugs that invaded Maryland earlier, kudzu bugs may look to human homes to over-winter.
“By the bazillions. Whether or not they’re going to be the same kind of house invader, we don’t really know that yet,” said Raupp.
But they’d be hard to miss. They smell worse than stinkbugs.
Researchers think the rapid spread of the kudzu bug from Georgia up the East Coast to Maryland may have been aided by the bugs hitching rides in cars along I-95.