Friday, September 7, 2012

Now is a Good Time for Kudzu Bug-Proofing Your Home

As the weather cools, kudzu bugs will be leaving their summer hangouts in kudzu, wisteria, pole beans, and soybean-fields and will be looking for a place to stay for the winter.

Unfortunately for many homeowners, these small, grayish-brown bugs have the same, annoying knack as ladybugs for finding their way into houses as favored places to escape the cold. Keeping the pests out may require some work, which should start in advance of cooler weather.

(Kudzu bugs on pole beans. Photo by Amy Whitney)

According to a UGA report on kudzu bugs, Megacopta cribraria as a Nuisance Pest, by Daniel Suiter, Lisa  Ames, Joe Eger, Jr., and Wayne Gardner, the pests were first found in the U.S. in Georgia in 2009. They had been seen in large numbers on the outsides of houses in October of that year in nine Georgia counties. Since then, they have spread across the Southeast and aggravated a lot of farmers, gardeners, and homeowners.

The report offers these suggestions for defending a home from invasion by these pests:

"...homeowners should ensure that screening is placed over possible routes of insect entry into the house; that screens on windows are well-seated and without holes; and that soffit, ridge, and gable vents are properly screened. In locations where screening cannot be used, such as around pipe penetrations, steel wool can be stuffed into these openings to prevent the entry of M. cribraria. Lastly, doors should establish a tight seal when closed, and doorsweeps should be installed."

The report also cautions against crushing any kudzu bugs that are found indoors, since "...this action may stain indoor surfaces and/or result in odors that may prove difficult to eliminate. Rather, insects should be vacuumed and the bagged insects then placed in hot, soapy water."