Kudzu bug life history


Adult kudzu bugs may superficially resemble small beetles, but they are actually more closely related to stink bugs and assassin bugs. They belong to a family of insects that have not been found in North America prior to their introduction (Order: Hemiptera, Family: Plataspidae). In its introduced range in the Southeast United States, adult kudzu bugs overwinter in leaf litter and houses. Adult bugs are attracted to white surfaces, and may be found gathering on houses in the late fall and early spring.

Once spring foliage begins to grow, the adults move onto host plant such as kudzu and soybean. Female kudzu bugs may lay between 13 to 302 eggs in a lifetime. During egg laying, females also deposit capsules containing symbiotic gut bacteria that newly hatched kudzu bugs need for their survival. Once the eggs are laid, development depends on temperature and may take between 39 and 115 days before the eggs can hatch and become adults. The adults can then live for 44 to 82 additional days. Adult kudzu bugs are active fliers, and often move from kudzu into soybeans and other leguminous crops. In their native range, kudzu bugs may undergo one to three generations per year, but in their introduced range, they seem to be limited to two generations. During the fall months, kudzu bugs move from senescing plants to aggregate on homes and in leaf litter again in search of overwintering sites.

proposed phenology (two generations per year) for kudzu bugs in maryland. Adults that come out of overwintering begin laying eggs late june. The second generation of adults starting in September will overwinter  and start the cycle again the following year. 

proposed phenology (two generations per year) for kudzu bugs in maryland. Adults that come out of overwintering begin laying eggs late june. The second generation of adults starting in September will overwinter  and start the cycle again the following year. 

 
Soybean Field:  kudzu bugs can invade and feed on plant during the entire growing season 

Soybean Field: 

kudzu bugs can invade and feed on plant during the entire growing season 

 
Kudzu vine:  Kudzu is the primary host plant for kudzu bugs  Photo: Alan Leslie, University of Maryland 

Kudzu vine: 

Kudzu is the primary host plant for kudzu bugs 

Photo: Alan Leslie, University of Maryland 

Kudzu bugs can feed on many different plants. Soybean and kudzu are the only plants on which they can both feed and reproduce. Currently, they are only an agricultural pest on soybeans. Below is a list of all know plants on which kudzu bug feeding has been observed. 

Non-Legume:

  • Alligatorweed 
  • Black Willow 
  • Banana 
  • Cocklebur 
  • Cotton
  • Fig 
  • Loquat 
  • Muscadine Grape 
  • Pecan 
  • Pine Trees 
  • Potato 
  • Satsuma Mandarin 
  • Tangerine 
  • Wax Myrtle 
  • Wheat 
  • Wild Blackberry 

Legume:

  • Kudzu 
  • Soybean 
  • Lima Bean 
  • Pole/String/Green Bean 
  • Lablab Bean 
  • Pigeon Pea 
  • American Wisteria 
  • Chinese Wisteria 
  • Japanese Wisteria 
  • American Yellowwood 
  • Lespedeza 
  • Peanut 
  • Crimson Clover 
  • Clover 
  • Alfalfa 
  • Sicklepod 
  • Black Locust