On Monday, September 8, Crittenden CEA Russ Parker and I found kudzu bugs (Megacopta cribraria) in Arkansas for the first time. They were located in a kudzu patch on the side of the road east of Marion. This insect is known to hitch rides on vehicles (including via airplane, which is likely how it originally entered the U.S.), so finding it just west of Memphis is not surprising. Another kudzu patch in Crittenden County had kudzu bug at very low levels (we found one adult in 100 sweeps). This was part of an ongoing survey of kudzu patches and soybean fields in eight counties on the eastern border of the state, and so far kudzu bugs have not been found in any other county in Arkansas. (A link to the current distribution of this insect in the U.S. can be found here).
While kudzu bug has not yet been found in soybeans in Arkansas, it is a potential soybean pest that producers, consultants, and extension personnel should be aware of. Adults are brown to olive green in color, have a somewhat boxy shape, and are typically just under ¼” in size. The eggs have a cylindrical shape, are creamy white in color, and are laid in parallel rows. Newly hatched nymphs have an orange coloration, but they become pale green to tan and take on a hairy appearance as they develop (see images below).
While it is late enough that kudzu bugs are not likely to be a management concern in Arkansas soybeans this season, any sightings of this insect in the state should be reported. Please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org), Dr. Gus Lorenz (email@example.com), Dr. Glenn Studebaker (firstname.lastname@example.org), or your county extension agent if you think you have found kudzu bugs in your area. Be sure to take some pictures and, if at all possible, collect some of the insects themselves. Kudzu patches, especially in well-traveled areas, are the most likely location where they would be found, but the adults are attracted to brightly colored surfaces and are often found on the sides of buildings, vehicles, etc.