This Week’s Headlines
Kudzu bugs delayed by winter, but on the way
By BRUCE HOTCHKISS
(April 28, 2015) The kudzu bug, which dines ravenously on soybean plants, is on its way again into the Mid-Atlantic, having established a foothold in Virginia and chewing its way north.
According to entomologists who keep track of such things, they are emerging about a month later than last year because of the extended, cold winter.
Dr. Ames Herbert at Virginia Tech said the first adult bugs of the season had been found in two counties, one on a trap at the Virginia Tech’s Tidewater Ag Research and Extension Center in Suffolk, and several on the side of a building in Mecklenburg County
“These adults are the overwintering population getting active as the weather warms,” Herbert said.
“They are about a month later than our first reports in 2014 — the first in that summer emerged the first week in March in Chesapeake. This winter was been pretty cold and wet compared to some and could have caused this delay. Most likely more reports will start coming in soon.”
In Maryland — obviously the next step in the kudzu march to the north — Jessica Grant, a graduate student working under University of Maryland Extension entomologist Dr. William Lamp, reported that “so far this year there have been no sightings of kudzu bugs in Maryland.
“Given the cold winter temperatures this year,” she added, “I would expect small populations in the spring and summer for most of the current kudzu bug locations.“
In 2014, the Asian kudzu bug was verified in six counties in Southern and Central Maryland, and two counties on the Eastern Shore.
Its invasion into other northern and eastern counties in Maryland was slowed in 2014, although all populations found in 2013 survived and reproduced through the summer of 2014.
In spite of its common name, Lamp notes, the kudzu bug is a serious pest of soybeans, with high densities reported of over 50 bugs per plant shortly after its discovery in Georgia. It is unlike any other insect pest of soybeans, and in fact is the only species of the insect family Plataspidae in North America.
The bug feeds on vascular tissue of stems and leaves, resulting in reduced growth rates and contributing to stress and yield loss.
In North Carolina trials, yield losses have recently been reported up to 60 percent with an average of 19 percent.
Lamp said that he and Grant will continue to monitor the spread of the kudzu bug into Maryland, to determine its phenology under Maryland conditions, to perform physiological and yield loss studies, and to continue providing updates to those concerned about its spread and damage
Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate.