October 22nd, 2010
02:43 PM ET

Kudzu bugs stink up Georgia

Kudzu bugs -- an invasive Asian stink bug -- are multiplying rapidly in Georgia.

Atlanta thrives on tourism, but it's holding its nose at the arrival of a new group of visitors.

Northeast Georgia has been invaded by stink bugs from Asia that are feeding on the region's pervasive kudzu - itself an invasive Asian species.

"It's a new invasive that appeared, to our recognition, last October," said Wayne Gardner, a professor of entomology at the University of Georgia's Griffin campus.

The insects - called kudzu bugs - were identified in eight Georgia counties in December. So far this year they've been spotted in 80 counties.

"In our office alone we've had over 30 calls about the bug," said Lynwood Blackmon, UGA agricultural extension agent for DeKalb County, which includes part of the east side of Atlanta and some of its eastern suburbs.

Last year DeKalb had two or three reports, he said.

"We're on the radar in terms of having the bug in this location," Blackmon said.

They've also been seen in one county in South Carolina and a few places in North Carolina, Gardner said.

Tennessee and Alabama probably will get the little stinkers soon, Gardner said, because the bugs have been observed in counties bordering those states.

UGA researchers are studying the DNA of specimens from China, Japan and Malaysia to try to determine where Georgia's invaders originated, he said. That information might help scientists figure out how they arrived in the U.S., he said.

The bugs, which look like boxy brown ladybugs, emit a foul-smelling secretion when threatened. Witnesses have reported being able to smell the stench from their cars while crews are cutting kudzu overgrowth along highways, Gardner said.

As the kudzu vines begin to lose their leaves for the fall, the bugs have been congregating on light-colored surfaces, especially the white parts of houses. Entomologists haven't figured out why since kudzu is green.

"They're looking for a place to hunker down for the winter and stay," Gardner said. "That could be in your attic or the debris around your home or whatever."

A basic insecticide for household pests will temporarily control the kudzu bugs around your home, but the best defense is good screening, Blackmon said. If they come inside, vacuum them up and toss the vacuum bag before it starts to stink, he advised.

In addition to kudzu, the bugs are feeding on soybean plants, though it's not yet clear whether they pose a significant threat to agriculture - "and that would include our famous peanut," Gardner said.

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Filed under: Agriculture • Animals • Environment • Georgia • Nature • Science • U.S.
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Todd

    I live in Kennesaw and my yard backs up to a wall of Kudzu. Last year we had real trouble with these bugs collecting all over the house. I picked up some liquid seven that you attached to a hose and sprayed the entire house. That left a residue on my windows but seemed to control them a little. This year just this past week and especially yesterday we have been hit harder then ever before. I had also read that household liquid detergent will kill these bugs so yesterday I filled my liquid seven container with liquid Palmolive and completely drenched the house twice. Looked like a giant car wash, but you know it did kill those bugs. I have dead bugs all around my house. I plan to check and respray tonight and every day if I have to to get rid of these. Still not sure how to keep them from coming.

    October 17, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jaye

    I see these insects all on my windows during the day. So much that I've closed the screen so they can't possibly get in. They seem to be everywhere over here in Hampton,GA I see them pretty much everywhere i go on the weekly...(lovejoy,hampton,fayetteville)

    October 17, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Renee

    I noticed these bugs last week as well. I live in Griffin. I didn't know what the bug was and it is interesting because as I was trying to describe the bug to my mother I described it as a brown ladybug. Can someone explain to me what the smell is like that the bug emits?

    October 18, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    As if stink bugs weren't enough! 🙂 Oh well, just go to http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com and you're good.

    October 28, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  5. Merle

    We have them in Lex SC as well. Some of our employees have found them in their yard where kudzu is at the back of their property. Basic pest control will control them.

    November 3, 2011 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. Pamala

    My entire back patio is covered in these bugs. It looks like a bug convention. There must be several hundred on my windows, doors, brick walls and fascia boards in my back yard. Thank you for your tips on how to rid my house of these pesky bugs. Every year it seems that we are introduced to a new creature that we have to learn to deal with in Georgia.

    March 15, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Keya

    I have been swamped with these stinky pests. The outside of my home is full of KUDZU bugs, very annoying. Thanks for the dish detergent tip!

    March 16, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. Isfandyar R. Qazi

    I live in Kennesaw and I have a same problem. City needs to do something. I will try dish detergent

    March 17, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Report abuse |
  9. S. Jolly

    In Spartanburg County, SC!!!!! Horrible and STINK!!!! Another invasion of something that multiplies by the ba-zillions! Just like Fire Ants!

    March 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Isfandyar R. Qazi

    I tried it today and It helped. Is there a electronic pest repeller I can buy?

    March 18, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Scott

    I have been battling these irritating critters for 2 days. Last night I went to lowes and purchased ortho premixed spray and thought I had them however I went back to check the damage today and they were back, not nearly as many but needless to say they are back. I am now hitting them with sevin dust and they dont seem to like it very much. Might not get rid of them but I will be happy if I can send them somewhere other than my bcakyard.

    May 3, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Samantha

    I decided to try the palmolive soap trick and believe it or not it works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I took a spray bottle and filled it 3/4 full of water, then added soap to the top of the bottle. The soap seems to weigh down those pesky critters, then they fall to the ground. I watched them to see if they could walk away, and they pretty much died right in front of me. Hurrah!!!!!!!!! Thanks to the person who mentioned this. You have saved me a lot of money and saved my garden.

    June 7, 2012 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  13. Heather

    I first came across these bugs in MB, SC. They where a huge pest. The only way you could get away from them outside was down on the beach. We thought that we had left them behind, but sure enough a few months later they are starting to show up here in Columbia. Haven't seen the amount I did at the beach but I'm sure I will by the fall. They do bite though! My Mother n law was bitten as well as another member of the family.

    July 24, 2012 at 3:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. Debi

    These bugs eat pansies. I will be trying the dish detergent tomorrow. Thanks for the tip. They like white just like the article stated. They like the porch ralings especially behind pots and love white vehicles. So annoying. I really have to find something to spray the yard with before they get out of hand. Maybe I need to take a small spray bottle with me everytime I get in the car to spray them so they don't fly in. Their smell is worse than a lady bug.

    October 12, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Casey

    We have a rediculous amount in Burlington NC (Alamance County). None of us knew what they were, only that we had never seen them before. They climb in your clothes while you're walking around, we're surrounded by farms so I'm sure they're going to be a problem very soon. I will definitely be mixing up some palmolive.

    October 23, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
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