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Md. growers urged to be watching for kudzu bugs
By JONATHAN CRIBBS
QUEENSTOWN, Md. — Maryland researchers are asking growers to keep an eye out for kudzu bugs as the voracious soybean pests make their way north into the state — albeit in relatively small numbers so far.
The Asian insects, which have reduced growth rates and contributed to plant stress and yield losses up to 47 percent in untreated fields in the South, were first discovered in Maryland last year, said Bill Lamp, associate professor in the University of Maryland’s entomology department.
“People are obviously concerned about it and need to keep an eye out,” Lamp said before a group of growers at the 16th annual Maryland Commodity Classic.
The CREP tours were held at the university’s Wye Research and Education Center.
Lamp and others have been looking for adult kudzu bugs in the state to research and have found only one in Prince George’s County this year. The bugs survive on kudzu, which resembles soybean plants.
Though a hotspot has been found in Talbot County west of St. Michaels since they were first discovered in the state, they’ve been restricted to Southern Maryland and Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Montgomery counties where most of the state’s invasive kudzu vine patches are, according to the university. Kudzu is less common on the Eastern Shore.
Large numbers of them were probably wiped out by the harsh winter, but a second generation should begin appearing soon. Virginia researchers said this month they were also seeing a notable lack of kudzu bugs.
“They will come back, I’m pretty sure,” Lamp said.
The bugs are similar is size to lady beetles (3.5-6 millimeters long) with mottled brown colors. Lamp asked growers to notify them if they see either the insect itself or kudzu patches so they can find the insect’s early stages.
Lamp said if soybean growers find one bug per sweep, that’s a good threshold to begin spraying. The bugs lay eggs typically on the underside of the plant’s leaves and feed on the soybean plant’s stem and petioles.
To report kudzu and kudzu bugs, and to follow updates on Lamp’s research, go to www.MDkudzubug.org. Additional information can be found at www.kudzubug.org.