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Tilley column: The kudzu beetle has made an appearance in Rowan County

At the beginning of the growing season, many Rowan County farmers experienced the destructive presence of the sugarcane beetle. Some farmers were able to treat the insect on time while others simply were too late to do anything.
Though that battle has come and gone, it is important to understand that the war between farmers and insects never stops. Farmers battle many different pests throughout the year. No matter if you are growing a garden for food, flowers for decorations or row crops to feed the world, there is an insect waiting to feed on your plants.
Cooperative Extension has learned of the possible presence of the kudzu beetle in the Rowan County area. The kudzu beetle is small insect measuring one-half centimeter long and one-half centimeter wide. When looking at the insect, the body is square in shape. The insectís color is mingled brown and black colors with a copper glow when seen up close.
These insects have powerful wings. Because of this, they have been able to travel from Georgia through South Carolina and into the southwestern region of North Carolina. Dr. Dominic Reisig, a North Carolina State University entomologist, reported the insectís first appearance in Cleveland, Rutherford and Lincoln counties.
On July 15, during the Rowan County corn field day, Reisig traveled to western Rowan County and was able to properly identify the kudzu beetle in soybean fields. Reports have been coming in from Union and Transylvania counties. It is clear to say that the insect has been on the move.
The kudzu beetle can feed on many different types of plants. The first place to look for a kudzu beetle is in a kudzu patch. However, this insect can feed on soybeans and other legumes. This insect is also known for feeding on cotton, wheat and potatoes. Though feeding can be excessive, the beetle may not reproduce on the crop. This does provide some relief when thinking about the future thresholds. But soybeans need to be monitored or scouted periodically. The beetle is a piercing, sucking pest feeding on the stems and leaves of the plant, rather than the pods. Reisig says that a single pyrethroid insecticide application should be effective to reduce abundances, but this pest may migrate and re-infest treated fields.
If you believe this insect is present in your fields, please contact Scott Tilley at 704-216-8970 or by email scott_tilley@ncsu.edu. If you are a local farmer and would like to have your fields scouted for any other insect or disease, please contact your local field crops agent for assistance.
Scott Tilley, N.C. Cooperative Extension field crop agent.

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