How to control kudzu bugs

By Nelson D. Wynn / Guest columnist

The kudzu bug has not only been reported in Columbiana, but in every county in Alabama. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions concerning kudzu bug control around homes in Shelby County.

Why are there so many Kudzu bugs on my home in spring and fall? During the fall Kudzu bugs will seek out protected areas to spend the colder winter months. They are attracted to light colors such as white and yellow. Kudzu bugs may aggregate on your home, on you, or your vehicle, and may accidently wander into your home. March-April and September-October present the most common times that homeowners will encounter this insect.

What should I do if Kudzu bugs enter my home? Kudzu bugs can enter your home through various ways such as holes in window and door screening, or through gaps under doors. The best way to prevent this from happening is to secure your home; make sure that cracks/holes are well sealed, windows are tight, and any opening to the outside is screened. If insects do enter your home do not squish them, as they will emit a foul odor and can stain fabrics. Get a vacuum cleaner and secure pantyhose to the vacuum tube with a rubber band, this will allow you to suck the bugs up and dispose of them. If you have a shop vacuum you can fill the canister with hot soapy water and suck them up that way.

How can I control Kudzu bugs in my garden and outside my home? If Kudzu bugs begin to show up outside your home or in your garden, chemical control is not recommended on home gardens or residential structures, due to the potential for run off and their toxicity. If bugs begin to aggregate on your home you may control them mechanically by washing them off your home with high pressure water, remove plant debris from around home & garden, treat kudzu patches, put bug in soapy water, delay planting, and/or trap using light colors.

Will treating Kudzu bugs with insecticides get rid of them? Spraying insecticides discourages these bugs temporarily, but does not provide lasting control. Large scales spray of house siding or plants that are not in the bean family is not recommended and will not get rid of these insects. Kudzu bugs tend to migrate in spring and fall and infestations come in waves. Many frequent applications of insecticides or other treatment methods will only help to reduce bugs currently in the area. The best time to treat kudzu patches is in early spring when kudzu starts budding, then again later in fall before kudzu bugs move out of kudzu patches. Products with the active ingredient lambda-cyhalothrin, thiomethoxam, or beta-cypermethrin are most effective. If you treat Kudzu bugs with chemicals, it is best to apply these directly to kudzu patches in the landscape. Any product using an active ingredient ending in –thrin should be effective against the Kudzu bug. Insecticide treatments should not be applied to kudzu patches past mid-April, as these are times when natural enemies may be most active.

Nelson Wynn is a regional agent with the Shelby County office of the Alabama Cooperative Extension Office.