Kudzu bug invasion has homeowners looking for answers

6:07 PM, Oct 17, 2011   |    comments
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Kudzu bugs invade a Cobb County home

ATLANTA -- They look something like ladybugs, but there is nothing ladylike about the way kudzu bugs are swarming all over metro-Atlanta homes.

"They cover the doors and windows," said homeowner Lamar Akers. "You have to run outside to keep them from getting inside. Every now and then one or two will get in and we have to kill them off."

The kudzu bug was first discovered in Georgia in 2009 in a handful of counties. Now, the bug is in nearly every Georgia county, all of South Carolina, and has spread through about half of North Carolina.

Homeowners have been emailing and messaging 11Alive on Facebook to ask how to get rid of the pests. Michele Wright is one of the people who reached out to us.

"My concern is that they will creep into the small crevices in the home and nest for the winter," said Wright. "That would just be horrible."

Wright used several applications of pesticides to kill off dozens of the multi-legged nuisances, but they were quickly replaced by dozens more.

"I couldn't sleep Saturday night," said Wright. "I had a few bug nightmares. It really does remind you of an Alfred Hitchcock movie."

UGA entomologist Wayne Gardner said pesticides will work on the kudzu bug, but there are so many of them in metro-Atlanta that replacements quickly fly in to replace their dead brethren.

The bugs feed on kudzu and are now busy looking for a place to hibernate for the winter.

"The more you spray an insecticide, the more exposure you're having," said Gardner.

Gardner suggests alternate ways of evicting the pests.

"You may get some sort of vacuum device and vacuum these things up and get rid of them that way," said Gardner. "We recommend to homeowners to seal up as many spaces you can, make sure that it's closed up so the bugs don't have access inside your house."

Gardner said if the bugs do get inside your home, at least they won't multiply there.

"The cold weather will slow them down," said Gardner. "We'll get a reprieve when we get a killing frost."

Eliminating kudzu around your home could help, but the bugs can fly long distances, so there are homes with infestations that aren't all that close to a kudzu patch.

On the plus side, the bugs have reduced the amount of kudzu in Georgia by one third.

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