USDA Checking Wasp for Ability to Battle Kudzu Bug Safely
The kudzu bug doesn’t simply feed on the stems of kudzu. It’s a threat to soybeans and peanuts too.
In fact – there’s worry in Georgia – where the pest was first discovered in October 2009 – that the kudzu bug will endanger the two-billion dollar peanut crop. That’s why USDA scientists are evaluating a top natural enemy of the bug. The parasitic wasp is harmless to humans, pets and other animals – but devours developing embryos of the kudzu bug – reducing the size of the next generation. A USDA entomologist is currently confirming the wasp’s host specificity and environmental safety. So far the wasp hasn’t attacked the eggs of native species of related bugs. As for the kudzu bug – it’s been reported in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.
A university-led effort is tracking the spread of the pest and studying its basic biology, host crop range, economic impact, chemical control and vulnerability to native predators, parasites and pathogens.