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. whocares

    close our borders and our ports

    October 22, 2010 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • anon

      I'm so glad people like you aren't in charge of anything serious

      October 22, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joy

    stink bugs in pa. kudzu bugs in georgia all from asia and both stinks

    October 22, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bob

    I wont be surprised if terrorist groups claim they brought this bug to the usa if they cant bombus out they can sure try and stink us out

    October 22, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. joy

    4 sure bob

    October 22, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. joy

    high nuclear stink bombs

    October 22, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  6. joy

    ooooops i mean bugs

    October 22, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Korie

    But seriously folks... buy some of those sticky fly catcher ribbon things (that you pull out of a little cylinder) and hang them on your deck or the south side of your house. Bunches of those stinky suckers are stuck to the fly catchers!

    October 22, 2010 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Gilbert

    Problem: Evasive bug that no one cares about unless it thrives in your community-then people care. Solution, get the US Federal Gov't to spread it in all 50 states, Canada and Mexico. Then when everybody cares, inflect the bug with an AIDS disease. This will eradicate the bug, while getting full public support. I think first we should infect bugs in Hondorus to see if it works. Thank you.

    October 22, 2010 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Myleeza

    Yuck hope they can find a way to get rid of those nasty things

    October 23, 2010 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  10. The Truth

    Bugs were imported to eat the Kudzu. Don't be fooled. We've been trying to get rid of that plant for decades. This was the answer.

    October 23, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      I second that, like many things the government try, fail, then they claim it on nature

      April 21, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. whocares

    Nuke em

    October 23, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ori

    Who Cares I Like Your Jokes You Really Have A Sense Of Humor Hah Hah,

    October 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. sara king

    I am from canesville, g,a. and the kudzyu bugs have just took over the out side of my house. I can;t go out side they are makeing me sick from the smell , I have been throwing up for the past week can some body do something , can some body do anything about these bugs, PLEASE HELP.!!! HELPpppppppppppppppppp. !!!

    October 24, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • kdinla

      They swarmed my balcony and the plants I have growing there. I had a can of roach/ant spray already and just sprayed the heck out of them with that yesterday. Today there are just dead bugs all over the place and I can just sweep them up since the dead bugs don't emit the stink. But whatever you do, don't touch a live one with your hands. If you do, it will take multiple scrubbings with soap to get the smell off your hands. Nasty.

      October 25, 2010 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • penny

      The websites are telling us to spray bug spray and this will keep them away- NOT TURE. I sprayed these bugs with the spray and they kept crawling. I them tried Ant / Roach Spray and they died in seconds.

      October 26, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jay

    Use a pyrethroid based insecticide or carbaryl on the perimeter of your house to kill and prevent them from entering for some time. Contact you local extension office.

    October 26, 2010 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  15. madison


    October 28, 2010 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
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