Kudzu Bugs Seek Shelter in South Carolina Homes

By Vickie Frantz, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
October 9, 2012; 9:05 AM ET
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This photograph of three kudzu bugs on the outside window of a home is courtesy of photographer Daniel R. Suiter of the University of Georgia.

First it was the stink bugs, now the kudzu bugs join them in invading homes for the winter.

Kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria) are native to India and China. In the U.S., they were first detected in northeastern Georgia in October 2009, according to clemson.edu. Since that time, they have spread throughout Georgia, South Carolina and other Southern states.

"We haven't seen the bugs any further north than Georgia in large populations," said Wayne Gardner. Gardner is a professor of Entomology with the University of Georgia. "States further north don't have large crops of soybeans or kudzu. Without these plants, the kudzu bugs cannot thrive."

Adult kudzu bugs measure about 1/4 of an inch long. They are light brown with an olive hue and are almost square in appearance. Their eggs are light tan and barrel-shaped. The kudzu bugs lay their eggs on plants leaves in two rows. In the southeastern U.S., the adult kudzu bugs can produce two generations of offspring in a year.

Despite the bug's appearance, it is not a beetle. It is more closely related to the stink bugs.

Similar to the stink bugs, the kudzu seek sheltered areas in the fall for overwintering. They will seek cracks, crevices and voids around homes. Research has shown that the bugs prefer light-colored homes, especially white.

The kudzu bugs secrete a foul odor that can stain wall coverings, fabrics and even skin. Some sensitive individuals who have handled the bugs have developed blisters from the excretion.

To help prevent an invasion of your home, you should cut back any kudzu patches and wisteria close to the house. The bugs love these plants. They are good fliers so it is possible you could end up with the kudzu bugs on you home.

Be sure to seal all cracks and crevices you find. Make sure screens on all the windows, the soffit vents and the peak vents are secure and in good condition.

Should the bugs find their way into your house, avoid crushing them as they can cause stains. The best way to remove them is to vacuum them up. An industrial vacuum works best, as odors can linger in a traditional vacuum. Add 1-2 tablespoons of dish liquid per gallon of water then add a few gallons to the vacuum canister. The dish liquid and water will kill any kudzu bugs you vacuum up. If you have to use a traditional vacuum, be sure to throw away the bag as soon as you are done.

Another option is to spray the bugs with insecticide. Most insecticides available for purchase by consumers are effective at killing the bugs. Be sure to read the label and purchase the right one suggest for indoor or outdoor use (depending where you will spray).

If you choose to spray the bugs before they enter your home, the best time to spray them during the fall months is during daylight hours when the temperature begins to cool before evening.

Once the bugs are dead, be sure to remove any large concentrations. The dead bugs will begin to stink over time and may attract other pests.

If your infestation is extremely large, you may need to hire a professional exterminator.

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