Scout Soybeans for Kudzu Bug

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kudzu bug adults on a flowering soybean plant

Kudzu bug adults feed on phloem from the stem

A few reports are trickling in of kudzu bugs in soybeans as they usually do this time of year. One grower reported levels above threshold near a ditch bank in Beaufort County (likely with kudzu growing on it). Johnston County agent, Tim Britton (who constantly has boots on the ground), sent me this photo today (May 25th). Kudzu bugs have been on the rise ever since their spectacular crash 7 or 8 years ago. I urge folks to start scouting soybeans now.

Kudzu bugs prefer kudzu as a host and will usually show up in soybeans near kudzu patches, if they are present, first. The adults have a preference to infest earlier planted soybeans, soybeans with narrower rows, and soybeans planted using conventional tillage. Check these fields first. This article has information on managing kudzu bug in the early-season, while this article covers biology and season-long management. The best product to use is bifenthrin.

I will end with a cautionary tale from the early-season kudzu bug management article that I linked to. An NC grower noticed kudzu bugs on the edge of his April-planted beans during May 2012. They had not yet infested the interior portions of the field. He opted to spray. He then had to spray again in June, as the adults remigrated into the field. Additionally, sprays don’t kill eggs, so these hatched into nymphs. The grower then had to spray a 3rd time in June, as spider mites were flared in the field from the lack of beneficial insects. We want to avoid these costly situations while still preserving our yield. Don’t wait to scout, but do wait to spray until you hit the economic threshold.