In 2009 the kudzu bug, also called the globular stinkbug, Megacopta cribraria, was first observed in Georgia, which appears to be when and where it was introduced to the US. These small stinkbugs are native to Southeast Asia and feed primarily on Kudzu. They however also feed on soybeans, one of Georgia’s agricultural crops. I first noticed them when I looked at my fig tree in late March this year and found it literally covered in these tiny bugs. I sent a photo to Marlene at the Extension office as I could not find them in my insect book.
Over a period of a few weeks the bugs slowly left my fig tree and probably started feeding on Kudzu as it steadily greened up. They obviously prefer legumes to figs. But, once my string beans and soybean plants started growing the bugs were back. They seem to favor the stems as I have not seen them on the bean pods or the green figs.
I control them by knocking them off the plants into a cup of soapy water. This is my main defense against all insects that harm my garden. Adult stinkbugs in general are tough to get rid of with pesticides and the soapy water approach is most satisfying and effective.
Be on the lookout for them this fall when they start looking for a place to overwinter in your house. As they are so small they can craw through cracks in the walls, foundation and around windows and will take up residence in the walls of your house. If you find them inside your home do not squash them as they truly are stinkbugs and have a foul odor.
So, if you find a small, greenish grey bug, just smaller than a ladybug, you have seen the Southeast’s most recently arrived insect pest.