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Chuck Denney, Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
Kudzu has been jokingly called “the vine that ate the south.” Now there’s another reason to despise this green menace. It attracts the kudzu bug, an olive-colored pest that looks a lot like a beetle. Don’t be surprised to see them in your neighborhood.

Neal Denton
“They seem to like white siding, and if you have kudzu close to your house, then you’re probably going to see a lot of them.”

Chuck Denney, Narrator
Knox County UT Extension Director Neal Denton is fielding calls from homeowners asking how to get rid of kudzu bugs. The bugs will soon be looking for a place to overwinter, and Denton says don’t invite them inside.

Neal Denton
“Basically we’re telling them the same thing with the other invasive – just to seal up as best you can. Do some perimeter sprays around places that could be potential entries – doors, windows.”

Chuck Denney, Narrator
The kudzu bug has been confirmed in about a quarter of Tennessee’s counties. It was first found last year in the Chattanooga area, and quickly spread to the north, the northeast and is now moving west. If kudzu is the main course for these bugs, here’s dessert. They also feast on a top row crop.

Dr. Scott Stewart (UT Entomologist)
“They feed on kudzu. They actually hurt the kudzu a little bit. They don’t kill it, but they hold it back. They hold back the growth. Unfortunately they do the same thing in soybean.”

Chuck Denney, Narrator
It takes only a few swipes with a net for entomologist Scott Stewart to find kudzu bugs and other pests in this experimental field on UT land. Stewart says the bugs can reduce soybean yields by 70 percent in fields. Other charming qualities – they also stink and stain. But the encouraging thing is once the bugs are identified, they can be controlled.

Dr. Scott Stewart
“It’s not that difficult to manage. It’s relatively easy to control with insecticides. The downside is it tends to come in at a time and on a crop where we don’t normally have to do a lot of spraying, so it’s a new pest we have to watch for.”

Chuck Denney, Narrator
Stewart says farmers and homeowners should get ready to find kudzu bugs, if not this year, then likely next. We’ll never get rid of the kudzu plant, and now we’ll have to deal with a pest that is apparently drawn to this vine.

OF NOTE: Kudzu bugs lay their eggs on kudzu vines in the spring, and then feed on the vegetation in their short lifetime. They can do the same with soybean plants. UT experts are hopeful that some cold weather this winter may help with the spread of the kudzu bug.