An Asian invasion of the bug variety doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.
A year ago, the lablab bug — or stink bug — was found in a handful of North Georgia counties — including Hall, Barrow, Jackson and Gwinnett. Prior to the discovery, the bugs were only found in Asian countries.
The bugs are typically found in or near kudzu patches. But as the weather continues to cool off, the stink bugs can be seen in large groups searching for a home to survive the winter months.
“We’ll likely never know how it got here,” said Dan Suiter, an entomologist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
“The bug’s now in almost 80 Georgia counties and spreading fast.”
The insects are about the size of ladybugs and are generally olive-green with brown speckling.
Although the bug’s American population continues to grow, so far it is concentrated primarily in North Georgia.
According to UGA entomology professor Wayne Gardener, the bug has been as far south as Columbus.
Although researchers aren’t optimistic about discovering how the bugs got from Asia to Georgia, they are working to understand the foreign invader.
“We have traveled through each of the counties and taken samples from two of the (stink bug’s) primary hosts — kudzu and soybeans,” Gardener said.
“We have a geneticist looking at what we’ve collected around the state. We’re building a profile of sorts and they are all sort of matching up to a possible, single introduction.”
By building a genetic profile, the experts may be able to determine what country the bugs originated from.
“We may never know how they got in, but if we can pinpoint
exactly where the bugs came from, then we may be able to find natural enemies that act on the pest,” Gardener said.
As winter approaches, residents may notice groups of stink bugs congregating on their homes, as the bugs look for a warm place to ride out the cooler weather.
Should the bugs make it inside your home, researchers warn against crushing them because they may not only stain fabrics, they can also release a foul, hard to get rid of, odor.
Instead of squishing the bugs indoors, experts recommend vacuuming up the bugs, then placing them in hot, soapy water.
While insecticides may help kill some of the bugs, experts warn that removing its kudzu host may be the most effective way to eliminate the pest from residential areas.