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Kudzu bugs causing a major threat to soybean crops

By Jamie Hicks
Published On: Apr 08 2013 10:57:31 PM CDT

A pesky insect has some North Carolina farmers worried. It’s called a Flying Asian Kudzu Bug and it’s making a meal on soybean crops in our area.

CRAVEN COUNTY -

A pesky insect has some North Carolina farmers worried. It’s called a Flying Asian Kudzu Bug and it’s making a meal on soybean crops in our area.

The kudzu bug is a type of stinkbug that feeds on the kudzu vines and is now attacking soybeans.

In North Carolina, soybeans are one of the major cash crops and this invasive bug has local farmers fearing worst.

"We’ve been warned to keep a sharp eye out for them because they say when they come in, they'll come in hard," said Craven County farmer Glen Ipock.

The insects first arrived in Georgia in 2009 and recently made their way to Eastern North Carolina.

Glen Ipock is a fourth generation farmer and has been farming soybeans since 1976. He said there isn't much a farmer can do to prevent these bugs from invading the crops.

"I’ll keep an extra sharp eye out for them because we certainly don't want anything to destroy them when they're small, so we want as much growth on the bean as we can get," said Ipock.

Homeowners and farmers gathered at a Go-Science meeting in Greenville Monday night to listen to experts on how to prepare for this invasion.

"What we are seeing in the field is you know we might find a few here one year and the next year they just explode," said Extension Specialist Dr. Dominic Reisig.

Reisig is an Assistant Professor of Entomology at North Carolina State University. He said in 2011 his research team found kudzu bugs in half the state and last year found them in almost every county.

"They're really good hitchhikers and they are attracted to things that are white,” said Reisig. “So white pick-up trucks, white houses, maybe white airplanes, it maybe came in with someone on travel but we don't know.”

Reisig said spraying insecticide seems to be the only thing that works well when protecting soybean crops.

Experts expect kudzu bugs to infest all of North Carolina's soybean acreage by the end of the year.