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This Week’s Creature Feature ... Meet the New Bug in Town

Aggressive as kudzu and nasty as stinkbugs

You know kudzu, that invasive vine driven by heat and humidity to devour whole communities. Now meet the kudzu bug.
    The small, flying bugs are as wide as long, resembling yellowish brown or olive-green ladybugs with many small, darker brown spots and ruby-red eyes.
    Vine and bug grew up together in Asia. This summer the creatures, aka brown ladybugs — are on the rise in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince Georges and St. Mary’s counties.
    Costly little critters good at eating and mating, they tend to swarm in mass numbers. Just like their namesake vine, they can create colossal problems.
    At one test site at Clemson University, kudzu bugs destroyed 77 percent of the soybean crops. No GMOs for these gourmets. They like organic soybeans best.
    Kudzu bugs suck out plant juices from leaves and stems. They reduce soybean yields by reducing pods per plant, beans per pod and seed size.
    Kudzu bugs may also infest other leguminous crops, such as alfalfa and other beans. But so far in Maryland, they’re sticking to kudzu.
    “We want farmers to be aware that the kudzu bug is here and that it is another insect they may have to manage as the season progresses and in the years ahead,” says Deputy Agriculture Secretary Mary Ellen Setting.
    Learn how to control kudzu bugs on the farm at www.kudzubug.org/grower.html.
    Like brown marmorated stinkbugs, the kudzu bug stinks when crushed. They can also cause skin irritation and stain surfaces. Kudzu bugs invade homes in fall and make a second nuisance in spring, on leaving. Find evasion tips at www.kudzubug.org/homeowner.html.