Sunday, May 20, 2012

More Megacopta cribraria - kudzu bug - a recent introduction to the United States; another invasive species

kudzu bug 
Megacopta cribraria (Fabricius)

image by Joseph LaForest,  University of Georgia,      

               I wrote about a recent invasive arrival to the United States last year Sunday, October 30, 2011"A new invasive species: Asian kudzu bug Megacopta cribraria attacks legumes in US" This newcomer to American ecosystems, Megacopta cribraria, is native to India and China and is also found in Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. The bean plataspid is pea-sized, greenish brown, and round with a wide posterior. In case you need to know, the insect  to waddle when it walks on a surface and is an excellent flier.[1]

               This insect is an invasive species from Asia that attacks soybean and other legumes. It also beneficially also feeds on kudzu, an invasive plant species that has spread throughout the southern United States. This sets up a classic collision of desires for it is reducing some of the invasion pressure of kudzu while at the same time threatening the heart of American agriculture.  USDA-APHIS reports that the "pest, which is sometimes called the kudzu bug or lablab bug, was first detected in the United States in November 2009 on kudzu in Barrow County, GA. At that time, a number of homeowners complained about a large number of bugs that had swarmed onto the sides of their homes and other structures, leaving a mildly offensive or bitter odor in their wake. As of August 2010, the bean plataspid has been identified throughout Georgia, in numerous South Carolina counties, and in one North Carolina county."

               So far this particular blog - and this pest - reads like the innumerable other posts about invasive pests that have established in the United States and are causing harm to our ecosystems and the services and resources they provide. And, because it is more of the same thing, most of us are becoming hardened to the point of  being inured and unconcerned by what seems to be background disturbance, a life-style noise and an acceptable condition of modern life. In other words, as with most things today that involve the environment, the this invasive insect and the damage it causes are someone else's problem because it is not directly impacting anything we care about at the moment.
               It turns out that there are places in the world that do not want this invasive insect and are willing to stop American shipping from bring our goods such as cotton to their ports.[2] Honduran officials refused thousands of pounds of goods already landed in their ports this winter after finding several dead bugs in the bottom of cargo containers because of their concerned after learning about reports from China indicating that the bean plataspid can significantly impact springtime soybean crop losses of up to 50 percent and summertime losses of up to 30 percent. It does not help that the bean plataspid is also listed as a harmful pest of Chinese fruit trees. If it moves to other host plants in the Americas, the pest has the potential to cause significant agricultural damage.[3]

               Amazingly enough we have been fighting invasive species before there was a United States of America (Connecticut keeps trying to ban plants). An invasive species, the Hessian fly, established itself during the American revolution and worked havoc on our young nation's commercial trade. what is new is that invasive species are entering and establishing at ever growing rates. We are being overwhelmed by a biological oil-slick, a living forest fire that is permanently altering our ecosystems and the services they render. Our response is to mimic the ostrich - to hear no evil and see no wrong, to leave to a future generation the task of cleaning up and responding to the damage we are allowing to happen.

               We need to find money to raise awareness and engage the political process.

[1] USDA-APHIS PPQ Invasive Insect (Bean Plataspid) Poses Risk to Soybean Crops and Infests Homes in Southeastern States. [accessed May 20, 2012]
[2] National Cotton Council. kudzu bug remediation. [accessed May 20, 2012]
[3] Erin France. April 8, 2012. Kudzu bugs raise concerns. [accessed May 20. 2012]

1 comment:

Cindy said...

How ironic, a Kudzu eater that is also invasive..And yes, where is the money to come from to clear the land of invasives? We need a citizen army armed with shovels & pruners..