Saturday, November 7, 2009

Statewide Emergency Pest Alert

This pest alert came to my email today:

By Sharon Dowdy
University of Georgia
Researchers from the University of Georgia and Dow AgroSciences have identified a kudzu-eating pest in northeast Georgia that has never been found in the Western Hemisphere. Unfortunately, the bug also eats legume crops, especially soybeans.

The bug has tentatively been identified as the bean plataspid (Megacopta cribraria), a native to India and China. It is pea-sized and brownish in color with a wide posterior, said Dan Suiter, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences....

"We have no idea what the long-term impact on kudzu will be, but we also have to consider the fact that it feeds on crops, too," he said. "It´s kind of a double-edged sword. It eats kudzu, which is good, but it also stinks and gets on homes. And the ominous threat is that it eats soybeans and other legume crops."...

Homeowners who find the pest should call their local Extension office at 1-800- ASK-UGA1.

"We´re still trying to get a handle on what its distribution is in the state," Suiter said. How to control the pest in Georgia is a mystery that scientists will have to solve, Eger said. In India and China, manually removing them is the most common way.

"Kudzu is its preferred host. So, it might be helpful by controlling kudzu," Eger said. "It is a significant pest of soybeans and other types of beans in its native countries. My guess is that it has the potential to be an important pest of all types of beans."

The complete article, which includes photos of the pest, is available through the link up top. Although the pest seems to be limited to the northeastern part of the state, I am going to check the kudzu patch at the local park tomorrow to see if it is infested.

I would be very sad if these insects become abundant in this area, because green beans are one of my most reliable crops. The only real pest on my beans so far is the Mexican bean beetle, and when it does become a problem (not even every summer!), it is usually after I've already harvested plenty of beans.

This new pest, which eats all kinds of bean plants, could change my beans' status as one of the most pest-free crops in the yard (okra wins the "most pest free" title).

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