Homeowners starting to see problems with kudzu beetle

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 28, 2011

SALISBURY ó In August, Rowan County Cooperative Extension introduced you to the kudzu beetle and the potential devastation it could have on our local soybean farmers.
But it seems that farmers are not the only individuals in the county who find this insect a true pest. Homeowners, over the past few months, have been calling the extension office with questions concerning the presence of small beetles in massive numbers gathering on their homes and automobiles. The beetle they have encountered is the kudzu beetle.
The kudzu beetle feeds on soybeans, kudzu and other legumes during the late summer months. These piercing, sucking insects feed on the stems and leaves of the plants. During the late summer and early fall, the insect will continue to feed and lay eggs on kudzu and other similar host plants. But as winter temperatures arrive, the insect will seek shelter in order to survive through the winter.
This insect is known to live under bark, rocks and other types of leaf residue. But homes and other residential areas that are next to soybean fields or kudzu are prone to see this insect on sides of the house.
According to entomology extension specialists Michael Waldvogel and Patricia Alder, the kudzu beetle will infiltrate a home in the same way as an Asian lady bug. They will land on the home and collect around windows, doors or other openings. Furthermore, these insects will gather around air vents and may try to survive the winter under siding that may be damaged.
How do we as homeowners control this pest and protect our property? If the infestation is large, please call a local pest control company. Most homeowners do not have the proper equipment to apply pesticides correctly. Safety is a big issue when applying pesticides. Professionals know how to get rid of the insect in a safe and proper manner.
For those who wish to save some money, there are a few methods that can be used to slow the insect down if not eradicate them all together. Make sure that all gaps, holes or openings around vents, air shafts, windows and doors are properly screened or sealed. This is the first line of defense. Second, vacuum up the insects and place the vacuum bag in the freezer to kill the insects.
For more tips or information concerning the kudzu beetle, please call Scott Tilley at 704-216-8970 or email scott_tilley@ncsu.edu.
Scott Tilley is an area field crops agent with Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan and Davie County.