Doug Johnson, Extension Entomologist and Garrard Coffey, ANR Agent, Whitley Co. KY
Summary: During the last week of August 2013, Kudzu bug adults and juveniles
were collected from Kudzu along Interstate 75 and US Highway 25 E and W in Whitley, Bell, and Laurel Counties KY. Samples
taken in Kudzu along US 25E in Knox Co. KY and Interstate 24 in Christian Co. KY did not capture Kudzu
bug. This represents the first know collection of Kudzu bug in Kentucky.
There is no way of knowing just when these insects arrived in southeastern
KY as there was no sampling when the population was at zero. Whether the
insects captured first arrived in Kentucky this year or if these are the
offspring of “overwintered” kudzu bugs is unknown. Perhaps a follow up survey
in 2014 will give us some idea of how this pest over winters in Kentucky.
Samples have also been taken in kudzu patches along I-24 (westbound
side) just north of the Kentucky welcome center (Christian Co. KY). No kudzu bugs were collected there, but samples will likely be taken again before soybean
harvest. As with the eastern Kentucky samples, finding something would indicate that the
insect is present but not finding any may not mean much.
While the southeastern Kentucky captures represent eventual risk
to soybean in east and central Kentucky, the newly recorded infested Rutherford
Co. TN represents the more likely path to western Kentucky soybeans. This
county is just southeast of Nashville and sits astride I-24, which joins with
I-65 in Nashville. These two highways represent pathways from Georgia via I-24
and Alabama via I-65, into the western Kentucky production area.
The populations along I-75 or I-24 are unlikely to be an agronomic threat to Kentucky this year. However, if this pest is able to
maintain itself in our region, particularly by successful overwintering, it is
likely to become an important pest. The main agronomic crop affected will be
soybeans. However, this pest feeds on a very wide range of plants, especially
legumes like beans, lentils and peas.
In addition, this bug is a home
invader. In fact, this is how the kudzu bug was first collected in metro
Atlanta. Home owners were calling their pest control operators because the pest
was congregating in very large numbers on their houses. No one really knew what
the pest was until they were sent to one of the few people in the US that is
familiar with this family of insects. It is a true invasive with no close
relatives in the Americas.
Our thanks to Stacey White ANR Agent in Bell Co. for his help
in finding sampling locations.
Photo: Philip Robertson, University of Georgia