Designed to be highly searchable!

“How To” Categories

Sustainahillbilly:

n., Any hill dweller who knows that the best path to the future is through the arts of the past mixed with the smallest possible dose of newfangled ingenuity.

“How To” Archives

How to Control Kudzu Bugs (Megacopta cribraria)

You’re probably having the initial reaction that I did, “Why would I want to control kudzu bugs? Just have at it!”

But kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria) also attack other legumes. Especially soybeans, wisteria, and hyacinth beans (Lablab pupureus). The idea of something that successfully retards the growth of kudzu having a picnic on my soybeans is not appealing.

It’s possible they will move on to other plant species as well. Last week I found swarms of them on my sage buddleia (Buddleia salviifolia) and am unsure if they were feeding or just attracted to rest in the pale leaves.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

If you haven’t heard that kudzu has natural pests until now, you’re correct. I first noticed these guys clustered all over the straw bales and outdoor walls at a local garden center last season and knew that they were something I hadn’t seen before. Turns out they’re an invasive exotic that was first discovered in Georgia in 2009.

They’ve quickly spread all over Georgia, South Carolina, and into most of North Carolina. It’s probably fair to assume they’ll move into the same areas that kudzu is able to inhabit.

In addition to legumes, they are attracted to light colors when the weather cools because they hibernate in the same manner as Asian lady beetles. It’s common to see them swarming together and landing all over walls, doors, and windows, as shown in this News 11 Atlanta video. People seem to be having a hysterical reaction to their presence, though they are largely benign. Other than looking a bit like boogers and smelling really bad, they’re harmless if you aren’t a plant.

When attacking plants, they tend to cluster like this (at the time this post was written this photo was mislabeled as tortoise beetles). Since they feed on plant juices through sucking mouthparts like we drink milkshakes with a straw, it can look like they are simply resting. Visible plant damage includes curling leaves or discolored spotting.

Kudzu bugs are so new to our area that the ideal method of control isn’t known yet. If management is necessary, use the same methods as for squash bugs, harlequin bugs, or Japanese beetles. Knocking them into buckets of soapy water on a repeated basis is probably the best solution.

If you are experiencing kudzu bug hibernation inside your home, try turning your vacuum on them. (Beware that this will probably make your vacuum bag smell like stink bugs — you may want to use a shop vac that is stored in the garage).

NC State University has a good fact sheet on kudzu bugs that may help.

I encourage readers to leave tried and tested solutions in the comment section. Especially if you know of natural kudzu bug predators that can be encouraged to move into the garden.

Print Friendly

60 comments to How to Control Kudzu Bugs (Megacopta cribraria)

  • When will we learn about bringing something ‘new’ in to correct a problem?
    Janet, The Queen of Seaford´s last blog post ..Come Walk With Me

  • Now this is a plant that needs a natural pest! The way the weather has been up here, I am expecting kudzu to crawl up our way. Just kidding, but who know? One invasive leads to another unfortunately, since nature seems to have the rapidity of growth well covered. I hope it can be learned how to control the bugs so legume crops are not affected.
    Donna´s last blog post ..W4W Tracery in the Landscape

    • Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet

      Some of the photos I’ve seen of soybeans and even pole snap beans is making me feel very concerned. Maybe their numbers will slacken a bit after they’ve integrated into the ecosystem a bit more.

  • We don’t have them here…as of yet, but it sounds like it will be similar to controlling squash bugs.
    The Sage Butterfly´s last blog post ..Contemplate the Garden

  • I’ve never seen these bugs in my garden, but I have seen squash bugs, and there was an elusive Japanese beetle in my strawberry patch last year. I’m fortunate to have a husband who is not squeamish around bugs (like I am) and he has no problem squishing the bad bugs with his bare hands, LOL! Hope you don’t have too many problems with the bugs this year.

  • I never heard of this bug, but since we do have a kudzu problem I will be on the lookout. I will remember your description that they look like boogers!
    debsgarden´s last blog post ..Echoes that Linger

  • Eric in Roswell

    I have had some success using Windex Exterior Window and House Cleaner. It has a pretty good reach so i can spray up on the eaves and they seem to dislike the cleaning agent in the product. Before using the product, they would tend to sleep overnight on the light colored eaves of my house. After using it, they just seem to swarm in the late afternoon then go elsewhere to sleep for the night. I really don’t want to spray my house with an Insecticide, so looking for any other suggestions you guys might have. Perhaps diluted White Vinegar? Diluted Bleach or Ammonia? There must be something that deters if not kills these little nuisance bugs. At this point, I’m unable to enjoy my back porch in the afternoon due to all the Kudzu Bugs just swarming around.

  • joe moreau

    This bug is eating my Westeria. in Peach County GA Byron, Ga.

  • I found millions of them on my wisteria. I tried spraying with liquid sevin and that just got them all riled up and all over me. Inman, SC

  • renee

    These bugs are all over the exterior of my home…in swarms. I’m talking hundreds! I sprayed with ortho home defense inside and outside and have had no results. I’ve only found 2 in my house. I have no idea what to do outside. They are on my porch and door! I have ben infested. I’m in moncks corner, sc.

  • […] soybeans and bean crops as well as kudzu, which gave the bugs the name Bean Plataspid. They also invade homes and smell really bad, which is why they are also called Globular Stink bugs. Photograph by Flickr user Charles […]

  • Annie

    They were all over my wisteria vine. I tried organic soap and that didn’t work. Malathion killed them. Then we had a frost which killed the shoots. There are now new leaves coming out and here they are again. Every morning and afternoon I squirt them w/ a squirt bottle of Malathion and I sweep their little nasty bodies off my deck. UGH. I’m in Brevard NC in city.

  • Mark Reinke

    Last year I didn’t even know what Kudzu bugs were, this year they are all over our Wisteria, Figs and the rare and beautiful native tree – American Yellowwood (Cladastris kentuckea) – applications of systemic insecticides have killed the ones present at the time, but millions come and replace them. We are miles from any kudzu or soy bean fields, but they find their way here anyway. I’m very concerned for the Yellowwood Tree – it is a very rare native trees in the legume family found only in very isolated locations in the southern Appalachians and Cuberland Plateau. They are seriously affecting the tree’s growth this year and could make this species extinct if they spread throughout its range!

  • Dwayne Mercer

    These Kudzu bugs have migrated from our wisteria to a near by peach tree.

  • Greg Snow

    Feeding vigorously on Crepe Myrtles in my North Myrtle Beach, SC yard.

  • DeAnn

    Dawn dish detergent and water in a spray bottle kills them, I do rinse my plants after about an hour, they still keep coming by the thousands. However, I really want my green beans!! awful things!! The soapy water drops them dead in about a Minuit, every day there are new ones… I just keep spraying ….

  • Sara

    Murrells Inlet, SC:
    First started feeding on our fig tree, tried spraying with neem oil to no avail. Now more have appeared on our pole beans. Manual removal methods seem limited at best and last for 1-3 days. Was hoping our chickens or anole lizards would like them, but doesn’t look like it so far…

  • Wendy

    My first year growing green beans (bush & pole) and just as they began to produce, I began seeing these Kudzu bugs on the vines – didn’t know what they were at the time – never seen the like. Now, within two weeks my poor beans are covered in hundreds of them – nothing organic I on hand worked (garlic mix, Neem, insecticidal soap)- tried just crushing them, but even more showed up. Beans are showing signs of stress and loosing leaves – so sad, I was looking forward to having a bumper crop – now I’m not sure. Live in Middle GA.

  • James

    Noticed them for the first time on June 1 in Columbia, SC clustered on the new emerging blooms of my beautiful magnolia trees. Will they harm the magnolias? If so, any suggestions on what to do?

  • Amanda

    I have them all over my pole beans. Dawn dish soap works somewhat but they keep returning in droves. Has anyone else found a way to get rid of them?

  • Peggy

    Does anyone know what affect, if any, vinegar has on Kudzu bugs?

    • Sustainahillbilly
      Twitter: appalachianfeet

      I don’t, but it would be worth a try to see if horticultural vinegar (20% acetic acid) killed them. Unfortunately, it would definitely kill the plant they were on, too. Vinegar works as an herbicide.

  • Lynne

    I am in the foothills of NC and these bugs are here by the millions. Apparently the odor they omit can cause allergic reactions in some people. They are all over our kudzu and every time I am outside clearing it, I get upper respiratory infections and symptoms similar to a cold. This weekend I was cutting kudzu and a swarm of the bugs flew into my face and when I wiped them away, one either bit or stung or put off the fumes and caused my eye to immediately burn as if I had wiped jalapeno pepper in it. Today (the day after) my eye is swollen and red and itchy. I hope someone comes up with a way to wipe these things out quickly!

  • We better be concerned. They are telling Ga. farmers to plant Soybeans this coming season and many don’t know what they will come up against. Look at these pictures: http://www.forestryimages.org/browse/subthumb.cfm?sub=56834&aut=33900

    I can’t kill them. I’m in Gainesville, GA. They prefer my wisteria & lady banks roses to the Kudzu. All I know is they come from Asia, just like the Soybean…. soy is used as a fuel….so…in the numbers I’m seeing them and I can’t kill them (I’ve used every chemical in the garage!). Forget sevin dust or even sevin spray, no garden spray in any dose kills them off. They just keep coming back. They prefer sunny areas.

    I’ve joined up with BioInvaders sending samples to universities to find a way to kill them. If any one of you guys come up with a sure fired way to kill them let us know so we can spread the word.

  • Anybody try PLUTONIUM yet!!

  • ZZ

    I AM GONNA TRY MILKY SPORE THIS YEAR.
    IT WORKS FOR JAPANESE BEETLES SO MAYBE THIS WILL WORK ALSO.

  • I live in NC in an Apt. I’ve noticed these bugs all over my house plants on my patio. They give me the creeps. I pray someone comes up with a way to get rid of them. Please HELP!!!

  • diane t

    In the morning they are all over my pepper plants and in my oak tree. We do have kudzu on a bank in front of the property but they don’t seem too bad there. They seem to prefer the peppers. Ortho home defense just seems to stir them up. We are in Alabama and we need HELP!

  • Steven Booth

    Found these eating my figs this year!!!

  • Jen

    We’re in Greensboro, NC. I’ve never seen them until yesterday. Thousands, maybe millions in some of our crowder peas, and sunflowers. Luckily, they are just late peas & flowers that grew back after we were done harvesting. It does make me hesitate to even start a garden next year though. We’ve had every type of insect pest under the sun. We don’t use insecticides since we also have honeybees. This year was also so wet and warm, following a mild winter last year, so we had all sorts of fungi too. A very frustrating year.

  • Karen

    These little SOB’s have now ran north to East Tennessee. The house I am in is covered with them in the evenings. It’s unreal. They stink to high heaven. Please tell me there is another insect that eats these things.

    Stinky and infested kudzu covered oak on missionary ridge in Chattanooga.

  • Marsha clark

    I use duct tape. Wrap it sticky side out around my hand and I can pull off about ten at a time. When loaded, I throw out the tape and wrap again.

  • Christine

    We live in China Grove, Rowan county NC and these pests showed up this past Fall. At first I thought they were like lady bugs and would be gone in a week or two and they were not. Then we heard “a good frost should do the trick” yeah, I’m here to tell you, not so.
    Remember a couple of days ago when it was about 70 degrees here?
    They were all over the house which is brick and white siding.

    We live in a rented house on 23 acres of farm land which is farmed by the same person every year, we don’t really know him, we don’t see him unless he is out there planting or harvesting. He plants mostly soy beans and there are pecan trees on the property as well.

    These are not just problem bugs that are simply just annoying, they are millions upon millions of prison guards and my kids and I felt like prisoners being kept in the house all Fall and on nice Winter days.
    I shudder to think of what life will be like in a couple of months.
    If we kill as many as we can when they cluster at night and in the early morning hours it makes no difference, we are literally up against thousands upon thousands more by noon.

    I’m really dreading Spring and I’m at a loss as to whether the farmer can spray anything to combat them shortly after he plants.
    Does anyone know?

    • Christine

      Well here we ARE! It is April of 2013 and they never went away not even for a day unless it was sleeting. I’ve done an internet search today and cannot CANNOT believe the amount of people who are just as helpless and now hopeless as I am seeing as how we cannot leave our homes day or evening, even just to go to our cars and there are NO crops that have been planted yet this year – so when they DO get planted, the level of bugs will be outrageous. When? At what level? Does ANYONE know? Does the state become involved?! This is far beyond a farmer’s issues and dealing with his own crops, this is an epidemic and these bugs are being transported on vehicles etc to neighborhoods no where NEAR farm land or Kudzu plants! WHERE (please, someone, anyone, I’m beggin you) where, do we turn for real solutions/answers?

  • […] is an introduced species without natural enemies in the area. As an example, no one has a solid solution for kudzu bugs, […]

  • Betty Ann

    Well spraying the side of my house with strong bleach water seemed to kill them and they did not fly on you like they do when you spray with bug spray.

  • I hate Kudzu Bugs

    In in Villa Rica GA, i have millions of these stupid thigs on my house iknside my house on my schrubs, and so much for planting, someone please help!!!!

  • Mary green

    HELP!!!!! I am in Creedmoor NC in Granville County, these bugs have taken over the outside of my screened porch and house. I kill them and then 20 minutes later there are hundreds more!!! What can be done to rid these bugs… Exterminator wants $300 but not sure if it will prevent them from returning everyday!

  • jen

    Im in Cape Carteret NC and the outside of my back porch is the same way. neither of my neighbors have and and we all have white trim on our patios. ive tried everything i can think of and the only thing that i see so far that has worked is dawn dish detergent and water in a sprayer. some die but they move. now unfortunately for me they moved up to the 20ft eves on my house and i can’t reach them. we move in a week and my poor renters are going to freak. i just hope they don’t nest. the entomoligist say they feed off of plants so i hope they are just misplaced and they will soon leave.

  • Gene Bardo

    I cut my grass today in Phenix City, AL…within an hr my entire back door(glass) was covered…went out front door and looked and the whole back wall of my house was covered. As I was walking thru the yard I was kicking up a ton of these bugs..Cleaned about 500 of them out of my pool filter yeasturday. I need a good solution to get rid of these bugs so I can allow my infant children to play in the yard.

  • KDLady

    I just want to be able to sit outside. Has anyone tried citronella candles or mosquito coils to get them out of the area at least temporarily? I sure would like to use my deck before the weather gets sweltering! I also considered bringing home some kudzu vines to give them something to go to. What do you think?

  • Brandon

    I’m in Lexington, NC and our wisteria is infested with them. I noticed them last year but only a few. Now there are thousands of them.

  • Karen

    I live in Elgin SC we have been invaded by the Kudzu’s bugs for the last two years. They have been worse this year by far. I tried to kill them with Bengal but it doesn’t help at all and Bengal has always worked for everything. We can’t walk outside that they aren’t flying all over us. We have a white house they are all over it they are absolutely driving me crazy! Please find something to kill these stinking pesky bugs!

  • I am in Boiling Springs SC 10 days ago a Wisteria bush and a Fig tree were totally covered.
    Using a shop-vac with some soapy water at the bottom I started to collect them, the best time is late evening and mornings, bevore they get to frisky.
    So far I have caught about 60.000 beetles.This is a little over 3quart,there are about 200 beetles/10ml.
    The last 3 days I can find only a few, so it looks like this was a swarm that landet here.
    Now I hope the pole beans will have a chance

  • Teri

    I live in Fannin County, Georgia. I saw a few Kuduz Bugs last year but didn’t know what they were or their potential for infestation. Oh, I wish I had known! This year there are millions of them. They are in clusters on the wisteria and every other type of vine I have. Being an organic gardener, I hestitated to use pesticides but quickly realized that insecticidal soaps, neem oil, and the more organic pesticides didn’t faze them. I have had the best success with Malathion in a concentration of 1/2 oz. per gallon of water. After spraying the wisteria, I collected about 50 of the little pests that fell off into a glass jar just to make sure that they were indeed dying and not just stunned. It did take about 45 minutes, but they all died. I’m sure that there are more of these annoying creatures out there, but they are not revisiting the areas that have been sprayed with malathion so that is progress. The added benefit to this process is that it works for Asian Lady Beetles as well so maybe I won’t be fighting them all summer. too.

  • CJ

    I’m in sedley, Va and a friend brought some to my house from NC in his bouncy house for the kids. I’m gonna try some different house hold chemicals to see what might kill theses punks. If anything works, I will post it.

  • Sherri G.

    Just to let you know how far South these bugs are: I am in Dunnellon, Florida (Marion/Levy County), which is in the West Central part of the state (Zone 8b). We are located about 2 hours north of Clearwater and Orlando. We don’t have any kudzu anywhere around – it’s 100 miles north of us, to the best of my knowledge. But here in Dunnellon, I have these kudzu bugs infested in my wisteria and my matured legumes. After reading your site, I started inspecting other plants in my yard – sure enough, they are also in the Magnolia tree. ‘Hope my corn and figs (etc.) aren’t next, but thanks for the heads up. This is one site I will be checking on for update!

  • Penfred

    I raise various Fig trees, in coastal Carolina.
    First time to see Kudzu beetles. Hundreds collect on each new growth branch.
    I am surprised that the Fig Latex does not deter them.
    Only choice ??? A Systemic seems the best bet. Spraying with various
    OTC sprays does no good. (Sevin, etc.)

  • Beth

    A few weeks ago, I noticed our bell pepper plant was being attacked by what seemed like hundreds of these aweful looking beetles. I hosed the plant down, moved it away from all my other veggie plants and completely covered it with a chemical commonly used for aphids.

    When I went out the next day to check on it, not only were they still infesting my bell pepper plant, they had managed to travel to the other side of my yard to my jalapeño and habanero plants. There were literally HUNDREDS just completely covering my 5 different pepper plants. I knew I had to do something, but I was in the middle of cooking dinner and it was getting dark, so I had to move quickly. I tried looking them up online, but could not find a common pepper pest that resembled these, so I just wung it. Here’s what I did:

    1 cup or more of minced garlic (this amount might had been a little extreme, but I meant business) placed into a large bottle with a lid. Filled bottle with water. Shake REALLY good and then pour garlic liquid into a spray bottle. Completely spray plant with liquid and make sure to spray every single bug too.

    Since then, I have not seen a single one on any of the plants I sprayed. NO JOKE! Now, I have seen a few here and there on a tomato leaf, but again, not on any of the plants that received the garlic treatment and no where near the quantity I was first introduced to.

    I didn’t even know what these were until today when a friend of mine sent me a text stating ” these kudzu bugs are out of control” with a picture attached. I recognized them immediately and looked them up to confirm.

    I recommend spraying all your plants just as a preventative, because apparently they do not like garlic.

    Hope this helps:)

    • I’ve got them now, too (I’m in Cary, NC). Not horrible yet but they are in love with my Abutilon on the deck. I used Safer Insecticidal Soap and it worked, although I had to use about half a bottle to get results. And they do return, so you have to keep after them. The garlic spray remedy sounds better – thanks for the tip.

  • Charlie

    Has anyone else tried the garlic trick yet? Does this work if you spray the side of the house and patio? I’m in Locust, NC and the sun beats down on my patio and backyard all day. I can’t get rid of these pests. I’ll kill them all one day and the next there are hundreds more. None of my neighbors have them like I do, lucky me I guess. These bugs take over my holly bushes, lillies, and any type of plant we’ve got in the backyard.

  • Sarah

    I am in Cumming, GA. As of last night I have accepted defeat. I have battled to the death (of me) every day for 4 weeks about 3 hours per day. They clogg my pool skimmer and basket and thousands are in the pool every single day. I have thousands in my backyard – house – furniture – windows – they even swarm my dogs. Going through cases of Insecticidle Soap – does not work. They smack my face, get in my hair. I’ve tried the hard chemicals – they just keep coming. No clue where they come from or why it’s just my house and not my neighbors – all of our houses are light colored. Not on any plants that I can tell. Just at a loss. They come at 2:30 PM and leave around 8:00 PM. Will I never be able to enjoy my backyard again? My dogs can’t even go out there! HELP!

  • Sarah

    There is a solution! The folks at http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com saved me. They recommended spraying the sides of the house, windows, gutters, trim, etc. (all white or cream) with Demon WP. Lasts for 30 days. It took 24 hours and now bodies are everywhere. They also recommended “Quick Drop” areosol for new arrivals. This actually works! They recommended I bring inside all white/cream umbrellas, cushions, covers. I just might have my life back. THANKS!

  • Yesterday I was picking lavender (what is left) and Gladiolas to put in the house and when I placed the flowers down on the counter a bug came off them. I smashed it with a water bottle and Pewww it smelled in that one area for a little while. I had remembered the other day reading about these bugs being on soy bean plants and so I looked it up. After seeing the picture I know 100% tht this was the bug! I didn’t know they also liked flowers!!! What are we going to do about these? It’s the only one I found and I do live in eastern North Carolina. Do I spray or do I wait? Sounds like some of you have had horrible stories! HELP! FYI-This flower garden is about 0.4 of an acre from my home.
    Heather´s last blog post ..How to Read Posts Behind a Cut (& Puppies, Kitties, Chicks, and Flying Squirrels)

  • Phil

    Buggers love my deck and tend to land on my tan grill cover and patio umbrella. Applied a thin coat of “Tangle-Trap Sticky Coating” to a white gallon milk jug, leaving the handle untreated since coating is, surprise, surprise, sticky and a chore to remove if accidentally gotten on hands. Placed jug atop my grill. Trapped 200 to 300 in a few hours. Actually seemed to significantly reduce the swarming on my deck. BTW, I filled the jug w/water to keep if from blowing off grill. We’ll see if trap continues to work. If so, I’ll drink more milk or scavenge for empty containers! If one works well, maybe 5 would multiple the results. Anyway, very pleased thus far. I did not anticipate some freeing themselves, though they seem unable to fly and soon pass on to their just rewards. Plan to put cardboard or perhaps piece of wood under jug to keep them off grill cover!

    They also get on flowers my wife put in planters on our deck. (And, no, she did not plant kudzu or soybeans or wisteria!) Seem especially fond of the zinnias. Sprayed Captain Jack’s Deadbug (spinosad) on them. Direct contact knocked ’em dead. Not sure about residual efficacy.

    Thinking about applying wettable pyrethrin to exterior of my house this fall. My board-and-batten constructions seems ideal for inviting overwintering. Don’t know if I could cope w/them indoors!

  • Mike

    I tried mulching my pole beans and yard long beans with coffee grounds and so far it has been very effective at repelling kudzu bugs (and Japanese beetles) from my legumes. Just sprinkle a layer of grounds around the beans as they first emerge from the ground. The plants appear to absorb something systemically from the grounds that repels the bugs. I am prepared to make a tea from the grounds and spray it on the plant if they ever appear on the mature plants, but so far haven’t had to do it. This is the first summer I have been able to get a bean harvest since the kudzu bugs (which I privately refer to as the “devil’s pellets”) first appeared in my SC garden 2 years ago and started killing all the legumes in my garden. English peas are the only legume they haven’t attacked yet. Here in my garden, they have attacked and killed pole beans, bush beans, lima beans, cowpeas, yard long beans, soybeans, fava beans, and annual sunflowers (but not sunchokes so far).

    • Bob Miller

      Hello Mike,
      I am anxious to try your coffee repellant on the Kudzu bugs.
      They have arrived in Alabama and last year they swarmed all over my pole beans. Didn’t seem to kill the plants – I grow the rattlesnake variety, but definitely stressed them. I have been putting coffee grounds and left over coffee along my bean trellis’ this winter in hopes I get the same results as you when I plant in May. I planted a fall crop of beans and the bugs were gone by then. Thanks for the tip!

Leave a Reply

  

  

  

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

CommentLuv badge