Kudzu bug threatening Southern exports

Some Latin American countries that trade with Southeastern states are worried that kudzu bugs may be headed south of the border, Southeast Farm Press reports.

In February, officials in Honduras discovered dead kudzu bugs in a shipping container from Georgia. This led the country to step up inspections of cargo from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alabama, according to the publication.

The kudzu bug only arrived in the Western Hemisphere in 2009, coming into Atlanta from Asia. But since then it has spread across at least 230 counties in four states.

It’s now found in all 46 South Carolina counties, more than 140 counties in Georgia, more than 40 North Carolina counties, along with parts of Alabama. Entomologists have been astounded by the insect’s rapid movement.

The bugs, known in most parts of the world as bean plataspids, look like boxy brown ladybugs and emit a foul-smelling secretion when threatened. While they are known to eat kudzu, they can also ravage soybeans, along with other legumes, according to the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.

University of Georgia researchers scheduled an informational meeting late last month to share with Latin American officials what they have learned about the kudzu bug since its arrival in the Southeast.

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