Earlier this month, Edisto Research & Education Center near Blackville, South Carolina hosted the best and brightest from the southeast in kudzu bug research. Dr. Jeremy Greene, entomologist at Edisto hosted the event:
“We had a great field day and lots of specialists there to share their observations. We had researchers from Georgia, NC State, and the USDA. We had a lot of people on the program that have a lot of expertise on this insect.”
The USDA scientist in attendance was there with research regarding a potential biological control method, according to Greene:
“One USDA scientist from ARS, Dr. Walker Jones, who is a research leader for bio control, he was there to present his research on evaluating potential bio control agents for the kudzu bug. He has been doing very detailed studies with small wasp parasitoids that attack the eggs of the kudzu bug.”
And this one parasitic insect might be here as soon as next year says Greene:
“We have identified on species that is very specific to this group of insects that doesn’t attack anything else. That is the candidate that you have to find for bringing in another species to the country to combat an invasive species. We are very optimistic that we will be able to bring it in next year.”
Bringing in species from other countries has some downsides, explains Greene:
“Kudzu is a good example, it was brought here as a weed to control erosion and look what it has done.”
With this being only the second year of economic thresholds of kudzu bugs, Greene says it’s too early to find a ‘normal’:
“We don’t have a benchmark for what to expect yet. Both years that we’ve had it have been very different. In 2011 the populations that developed in soybeans didn’t develop until the reproductive stages and didn’t cause a problem till late season. But in 2012, we had cases where it didn’t use kudzu as an early season host, they came straight to our early planted soybeans.”
Biological control with other insects isn’t the only avenue being perused:
“We are looking at as many different areas as we can.”
Greene says that he’s harvested some group four control plots at the center, and thus far, they’re showing about a 38% decrease in yield.
Dr. Jeremy Greene, entomologist at the Edisto REC near Blackville, SC.