A bug that likes to munch on soybean stems — first spotted in northeast Louisiana — has entered the local area.
Since March, the kudzu bug has been found in East Baton Rouge, West Feliciana, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes, and in Concordia and West Carroll parishes, the LSU AgCenter reported Tuesday.
The kudzu bug’s name is a bit deceiving, since it is also known to feed on the stems of soybean plants.
“This is not a pest that farmers will want around their fields because it is capable of reducing yields by about 20 percent,” said LSU AgCenter entomologist Jeff Davis.
Davis said soybean growers have chemicals to control the pest. They are the same as those used to control stinkbugs and some other insects.
“In East Baton Rouge Parish, the insect was found in soybeans at the LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens,” he said. “This was the first time that we’ve seen the kudzu bug reproducing in soybean.”
The pest originated in Asia and has been on a westward course across the U.S. since it was first spotted in Georgia in 2009.
Davis said the first sighting of the pest was near Atlanta’s Hartfield International Airport, which leads him to believe the pest entered this country on shipping containers or luggage.
“This insect is known for catching rides, even though it can fly,” David said. “It is attracted to white objects, so white or other light-colored vehicles would probably be there selection for hitchhiking.”
The kudzu bug is now known to be in Kentucky, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia.