New invasive pest species found in north Louisiana

Johnny Morgan, Brown, Sebe  |  6/27/2013 1:27:08 AM

News Release Distributed 06/26/13

BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU AgCenter entomologists have confirmed the arrival of the kudzu bug in a soybean field in Madison Parish.

The first kudzu bug in Louisiana was found by crop consultant Lee Oliver and was confirmed by LSU AgCenter area agent Sebe Brown near Mound.

The kudzu bug, or bean plataspid is a small, oval-shaped insect native to India and China. It was first discovered in Vicksburg, Miss., in 2012.

Brown said the pests are believed to have moved across the Mississippi River into Louisiana by vehicle traffic.

“We knew the insect was in Mississippi,” Brown said. “And that it would only be a matter of time before it arrived in Louisiana.”

In addition to Mississippi, this pest has been found in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.

This pest is known to stress soybean plants by using its piercing/sucking mouthparts to extract plant fluids.

“We don’t want to alarm our growers,” Brown said. “We just want to make them aware that the insect is here. If they have fields along the Mississippi River, especially in Madison Parish, they need to scout for the insect as they look for stink bugs or any other insect populations.”

Preliminary data from the University of Georgia show that heavy infestations of the kudzu bug will cause average yield losses of 18-20 percent, Brown said.

The good news for growers is the same chemicals used to control stinkbugs have been shown to be effective on the kudzu bugs as well.

However, Brown said, there’s no need to start spraying until the insect numbers are high enough to warrant it.

“What we found in our scouting was one adult kudzu bug for every 100 sweeps with our net,” Brown said. “This is way below the threshold for growers to think about taking any action, such as spraying.”

The insect is known to feed on kudzu, wisteria, soybeans and other legumes, he said. “During the fall, large numbers of kudzu bugs will be found seeking overwintering habitats around structures, including shrubs, leaf litter and crevices around homes.”

Even though the insect has piercing/sucking mouthparts, it is primarily a stem and foliage feeder and doesn’t feed on the pods.

“If the kudzu bug is found in a soybean field, the grower should contact an LSU AgCenter office to make the county agent aware of the situation,” he said. “We know it’s in Madison Parish, but we need to know when it’s found in other areas so we can track it.”

Research from the University of Georgia also found that kudzu bugs are more attracted to early-planted soybeans with more damage seen during dry conditions.

The kudzu bugs are known to take approximately six weeks to complete one generation on the kudzu plant and often complete a second generation on soybeans, Brown said.

Johnny Morgan

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