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Soybean-sucking kudzu bugs head west

3 years ago August 07, 2012 Aug 7, 2012 Tuesday, August 07 2012 Tuesday, August 07, 2012 9:48:50 AM CDT in News
Source: Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS - Kudzu bugs, pea-sized Asian insects with hearty appetites for soybeans as well as the weed they're named after, have hitchhiked from Alabama to western Mississippi.

Entomologists and farmers in Arkansas and Louisiana are keeping a wary eye out for an invasion.

The bugs were found near Vicksburg, Miss., in July.

That's about 270 miles west of the nearest Alabama county where they'd been seen.

Since first spotted near Atlanta in 2009, kudzu bugs have spread to southern Virginia, northern Florida, Alabama and east Tennessee. They are strong flyers, but also are known to hitchhike on trucks and other vehicles.

Kudzu - also an Asian import - is their favorite food but they're happy to dine on soybeans, jabbing needle-like beaks into stems and veins and sucking out nutrients.

IMAGE: Univ. of Georgia Extension

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