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. madison

    BUT it is a cool bug never saw that bug

    October 28, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • miranda

      I live in gwinnett county and the area behind my house is full of them, they stick to your clothes especially white shirts and sometimes they are at the surrounding gas stations they get in your car they are just plain annoying!!!!!

      August 14, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Premier

    I really think this bug should be taken seriously.Sure it smells bad but if it attacks the soybean crop that would really 'stink'!

    March 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Premier

    This is not a duplicate comment.I really think this bug should be taken seriously.Sure it smells bad but if it attacks the soybean crop that would really 'stink'!

    March 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ebin

    just found them in bibb county on a kudzu vine

    May 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rachelle

    They have invaded our area in Fulton County/NW Atlanta. They also will kill a fruit tree (and many other kinds of trees) if left to their own devices (I watched them kill an entire mature branch in a single day). Even after removing them via an organic remedy (they abhor cinnamon), the branches they had infested died out (turning completely brown) within 48 hours.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Becca

    In Forsyth County Just off 369 our littl subdivision has been thoroughy invaded. You can't go out without bring at least one back in with you. They have covered our vegetation outside, clog our water fountain and irritate our pets to no end. HELP!

    July 19, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bumpkin

    They must see ultraviolet light if they mistake white surfaces for kudzu. They could probably be trapped and disposed of that way.

    July 21, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dee

    I recently found one of these little stinkers on a skirt in our clothing store!!!

    September 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  9. mel

    Add Fayette county to the list, we have them behind our house and they not only stink, they bite!

    October 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. IrtishBlue

    Just found these swarming near our home in Henry County...

    October 15, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Greg

    They have now reached Cobb County (Acworth), these things are taken over our subdivision..When is somebody going to take notice that something needs to be done.

    October 16, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Amy

    My house as well as both my neighbor's houses are covered in MILLIONS of these nasty things. We are in Newnan.

    October 16, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jamie

    They are all over the front of our rental house here in Gastonia, NC!! It is really annoying!!!!

    October 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kamiyah

    Wow I have at my house will het on humen when Hume are sleeping!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Andrea

    I'm in Douglasville Ga. And yesterday and today got covered in these nasty bugs , but how do we get rid of them.

    October 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
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