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Southeast Regional Reports

Pest Alert: Kudzu Beetle

Keep an eye out for this emerging pest as we learn more about its appetite

Kudzu beetle (Megacopta cribraria) Photo: Paula Gross

There’s a (relatively) new bug in town, and its favorite hangout is the plant not so affectionately known as “the vine that ate the South”—kudzu (Pueraria montana, Zones 6–10). The kudzu beetle (Megacopta cribraria) was accidentally introduced into the United States in 2009 and first reported in the Atlanta area. And yes, its favorite food is kudzu! This would seem an answer to a few prayers, assuming these bugs have a REALLY big appetite. They tap into the sap of stems and leaves, sucking out nutrients and weakening plants in the process, but we’ve yet to see them take down any kudzu monsters.

At this point you may be wondering what this invasive pest of an invasive plant has to do with your kudzu-free garden. The mottled olive-brown, decidedly square-shaped, 1/5 inch-long beetles are strong flyers, and they’ve been flying into gardens and onto houses throughout much of the…

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