If you live anywhere near Atlanta you probably want to read this.

Kudzu bugs are everywhere right now. Spend a little bit of time outside and you’re likely to be pestered by these swarming dark colored bugs. One of my daughters thought that it was a lady bug the other day, but I knew otherwise. These bugs have been growing in numbers since 2009 and 2010 when they were confirmed in 60 north and central Georgia counties. Identifying the bugs is not difficult. They are round olive-green colored with brown speckles. They also produce an odor when they are disturbed (hence the commonly used name stinkbug.) They’re actually identified as Megacopta cribraria.

Army of Brown Stink BugsWe can thank the beautiful weather as the reason we’re seeing them swarm so much right now. This is also going to mean that we’ll likely have a rough spring and summer with other insects such as mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. They are hatching from their eggs and resuming their feast on the nearby kudzu patches and other green leafy plants. If you have garden plants, such as beans, they may go after the leaves on those plants as well. The real nuisance is that they are finding homebases for their feeding operations on the sides of homes. Light colored surfaces, especially sunlit walls, make a perfect place for a stinkbug meetup. Then it just takes one curious stinkbug who discovers an entry point to your home to alert the swarm to a newer and better living environment.

If there is anything positive that can be taken away from the kudzu bug is that they do not sting or bite. If they get around your home or even in your home, they should not destroy anything. As I said, the only negatives are the quantity of them that swarm and the smell if you swat one. The jury is still out on whether the kudzu bug will do quantitative destruction to other leafy plants. They are apparently selective eaters. In fact, they don’t actually eat the leaves, but the suck on the juices of the leaf. There is some concern that they could go after soybean and peanut crops.

Now that you know what they are, How do you control them?

Standard insecticide sprays will kill them. Resist the urge to swat them and squish them. Remember what I said about the odor. Even vacuuming them will likely cause the smell to be emitted from the bugs. If they have made it indoors, you could have some stained surfaces from the fluid that produces the odor.  The best thing to do do is to sweep them into a dustpan and dispose of them into a bucket of water. The water will contain the smell.

We have exterior insecticides that can be attached to a water hose for easy use. You can use the insecticide on the leaves that the bugs are swarming around or on the sides of your house if they are congregating there.  The problem that you will likely have is that this is not going to be a one application end to the problem. Because of the ample supply of food, these bugs will likely return. If you have a lot of kudzu around your property, you may need to go to war with their food source. Eliminating or reducing the food source should decrease their presence in your yard. They’ll move on to someone else’s yard and be a nuisance to them.

Of course, we in Georgia also know how difficult it is to get rid of the kudzu.

The University of Georgia has put together some more information about this pest.

You can also get more information on Walter Reeve’s website.

So are you being affected by them? What’s your strategy for playing outside and steering clear of them? Leave a comment below.