The kudzu bug is spreading rapidly across the South – a migration that could result in significant economic losses for soybean growers.

Discovered in Georgia in 2009, the kudzu bug, or the bean plataspid, has since settled throughout most of Georgia, North and South Carolina, and is now found in parts of Florida, Alabama, Virginia and Tennessee. Although the kudzu bug is native to Japan, it has adapted well to its southern environment and has spread rapidly since its arrival.

While the kudzu bug does feed on kudzu as its name suggests, soybeans have also become a staple in its diet, much to the surprise of growers and researchers across the South. Kudzu bugs feed on soybeans by sucking nutrients and moisture from the leaves and stems, causing stress and reducing yields.

“Kudzu bugs definitely have the potential to cause major yield loss because they have no established biotic control organisms yet in the U.S.,” said Roy Boykin, entomologist, technical asset lead, Syngenta. “Kudzu bugs are colonizing soybeans much earlier this year than in past years, so this season’s early planting may actually prove to be a challenge for growers trying to protect their fields from damage.”

The first generation of kudzu bugs moves from kudzu to soybeans in early summer, with the second generation expected to migrate in late-July or early-August. This means the battle will continue for soybean crops throughout the season.

As kudzu bugs are becoming a more extensive issue, experts are aggressively attempting to determine uniform threshold levels and warn growers of potential damage. Syngenta agronomists and university entomologists are striving to lessen the blow these pests may have on soybean yields through the Syngenta Pest Patrol program.

Pest Patrol offers season-long pest alerts and treatment recommendations, including information on kudzu bug patterns, through its toll-free hotline (877-285-8525), text alert service and website (http://www.syngentapestpatrol.com/). The program is available to more than 20 regions throughout the South and the Midwest.

“Stay updated on insect pest developments in your area by checking with your local Pest Patrol expert,” said Boykin. “Through the Pest Patrol program, university entomologists and Syngenta agronomists inform retailers and producers about surfacing pest threats in their area via weekly audio updates. If threshold levels are reached, options such as Endigo ZC insecticide can provide fast knockdown and extended residual control of pests.”