Kudzu-eating bug spreads outside Georgia

Ask someone to name Georgia’s most prized export and you’ll get varied responses.

 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'

'I'm from the government and I'm here to help.'

Peaches, pecans, peanuts (we like P’s) and exotic dancers are among our many claims to fame.

But what about plataspids? Bean plataspids to be precise.

Sounds yummy, but you’d best not eat them. After all, it’s what THEY eat that makes them special — the tiny insects devour kudzu, the South’s least favorite plant.

The Athens Banner-Herald reports the bugs, first found in Georgia near Athens, have spread to almost all of Georgia, South Carolina, a big chunk of North Carolina and four Alabama counties.

You can’t blame them for avoiding Mississippi.

The bugs fly high, so recent winds from Hurricane Irene may have shot the little guys clear up to Canada, where, believe it or not, kudzu grows.

Researchers in Athens say the insects reduce the amount of kudzu foliage by a third in test plots. They also dine on another pesky plant, Wisteria, which has the good manners to at least be pretty when blooming.

The news isn’t all good: Other members of the legume family considered useful (and profitable) — peanuts and soybeans — are also targeted by the tiny winged beasts.

Kudzu — which can grow a foot a day — became widespread in the ’30s and ’40s when the U.S. government planted it far and wide to reduce soil erosion. It’s taken over vast swaths since — spreading at the rate of 150,000 acres per year.

Bean plataspids, unlike struggling artists, will never go hungry.

31 comments Add your comment

Barticus Maximus

August 29th, 2011
7:59 pm

First, even beat the Bean Plataspids!!!


August 29th, 2011
8:04 pm

How do you buy one of these bean plataspids? I’m being overrun by Kudzu

Long Gone Charlie

August 29th, 2011
8:25 pm

Great Gobs of Goose Grease ,,,, theSouth’s prayers have been answered by a little old bug !!!!!!!!

DIE KUDZU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

just sayin....

August 29th, 2011
8:29 pm

will it also eat the ones in the sunday funnies? I hope so…

Just Wondering

August 29th, 2011
8:33 pm

Will goats eat kudzu??


August 29th, 2011
8:44 pm

You don’t want these things around your house. They are attracted to white trim and like to come in the house. They are really just small stink bugs.

Red Clay Hound

August 29th, 2011
9:31 pm

They have also decimated my pole beans and taken a huge toll on my okra – they are prolific as well as insatiable.


August 29th, 2011
10:40 pm

Goats love kudzu!! =D


August 30th, 2011
6:10 am

So the Gubment gave us kudzu. Now we have a bug that eats legumes without discriminating the good from the bad. courtesy of UGA? Gubment at work.


August 30th, 2011
6:17 am

Gubment didn’t “give you” Bean Plataspids. You , and your demand for cheap crap from China are to blame.
Next time you are in Walmart, thank your greeter for Bean Plataspids.

Chuck Allison

August 30th, 2011
6:31 am

Wisteria? We really don’t want them to eliminate Wisteria!

Chuck Allison

August 30th, 2011
6:34 am

I had rather put up with kudzu than to lose okra and green beans. Somebody better come up with a good pesticide right away.


August 30th, 2011
7:33 am

Two bad things do not equal a good thing… You can control kudzu if you keep it killed for three years or so, but these bugs could be much worse.


August 30th, 2011
8:30 am

A country guy was asked many years ago on a tv show what he thought about Jimmy Carter. He said, “There are only tow things of significance that ever came out of Georgia, Jimmy Carter and Kudzu”. He reckoned he liked the kudzu better.


August 30th, 2011
8:41 am

WDIK: You are the government. remember “for the people, OF the people and BY the people.” If there is a problem, it’s you and the people you elect.


August 30th, 2011
8:46 am

I was not particularly fond of Carter as President, but the revisionist blathering is annoying. He was not a horrible president. Not a great president, but not that bad, either. It was a difficult time and he never won the confidence of his own party, partly due to Ted Kennedy.

Some accomplishments as president:

Panama Canal treaties
Camp David Accords
treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel
the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union
establishment of U.S. diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China
comprehensive energy program conducted by a new Department of Energy
deregulation in energy, transportation, communications, and finance
educational programs under a new Department of Education
environmental protection legislation, including the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.


August 30th, 2011
8:47 am

Enter your comments here

The Big Bopper

August 30th, 2011
8:52 am

First, even beat the Bean Plataspids!!!

No one cares.


August 30th, 2011
8:55 am

If Carter’s successor hadn’t repealed the policy requiring more fuel efficient vehicles, we might be 30 years farther along toward energy independence — and maybe there would never have been such a thing as a street ready Hummer or an Escalade or Excursion.


August 30th, 2011
9:22 am

So I guess Rabbit would rather eliminate free market choices and force us to drive compact, pieces-o-crap…like VW RABBITs. Move to SF if you don’t like it. If our current leader would authorize drilling here at home, we wouldn’t have to pay $3.50+ per gallon and support islamic nations in the process who are dead set on killing us. Carter was the 2nd worst president of all time, right behind our current socialist-in-chief.


August 30th, 2011
9:27 am

Federal government departments are like kudzu. They grow and grow and creep along and are essentially indestructible and turn into a monstrosity with no repeal or repair in site and are now just big weed jobs program run amok in the yard.


August 30th, 2011
9:28 am

Alex: why are you spewing your liberal B.S on a blog about horticulture and insects? (giving away the Panama Canal is not something to brag about) And why are other people talking about China and how evil the U.S is for buying materials overseas? Are you afraid of competition? the days of secular and micro economies are over. Get used to being competitive or get out of the way and be poor. I imagine you are.
As for Kudzu, introducing another evasive species is probably not a great idea without extensive research.


August 30th, 2011
9:29 am

Sam: love the analogy!

Kent Brockman

August 30th, 2011
9:52 am

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.


August 30th, 2011
2:28 pm

“Kudzu…became widespread in the ’30s and ’40s when the U.S. government planted it far and wide to reduce soil erosion.”

If memory serves it was first introduced in Georgia, to control wash outs along roadsides. A cautionary tale about government central planning perhaps. Will ObamaCare eventually turn out to be like kudzu?


August 30th, 2011
9:08 pm

So, Joe. You think automobile choices are “free market?” Try almost free good. According to a 1980s study, government subsidies for highways and parking alone amount to between 8 and 10 percent of our gross national product, the equivalent of a fuel tax of approximately $3.50 per gallon.
AND spending on transit creates twice as many new jobs as spending on highways.


September 9th, 2011
8:34 pm

Let’s hope these bugs are satisfied with eating kudzu. Lord knows there’s plenty of it in the South, but now it’s spread clean up to New York City and Long Island. Then again, people are planting Chinese fan palms in the New York metropolitan area – and even as far north as Seattle and Vancouver – and they’re doing just fine. They’re even growing in London (52.5 degrees North latitude). But, of course, there’s no such thing as global warming. And, by the way, I’m really a kangaroo.


September 12th, 2011
1:06 pm

What about the helium? CNN reported earlier this year a kid in Valdosta discovered if you inject Kudzu with a little helium, it will kill the entire plant down to the root (and none around it). I know it would be hard to stop the spread of this bug naturally now, just like the kudzu, i think injecting an invasive plant with helium is a much better alternative than introducing something that will ruin our peanut and other crops.


September 12th, 2011
8:38 pm

You can’t blame them for avoiding Mississippi? Wow, classy there george, just classy.


September 13th, 2011
7:21 am

Goats will decimate your kudzu in short order. No need for these nasty sounding bugs that will eventually attack our crops.


April 18th, 2012
1:57 pm

Try not to let these bugs get around your eyes. Got one on my eyelid last year, and it burned like crazy. Stayed swollen for 3 days, then scabby for 2 more days. Turns out the stink compound is an irritant to sensitive skin.
If the kudzu bugs didn’t threaten soybeans and peanuts, then I wouldn’t mind them so much. Sure, they smell funny, and they hang around for weeks in the spring, and they can be an irritant, but THEY EAT KUDZU. There are those who would say “well, hell, that sounds like my cousin, except my cousin doesn’t eat kudzu.”