New form of stink bug expected to invade Pa.

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PITTSBURGH - A form of stink bug that has already invaded the south is expected to begin appearing in Pennsylvania.

According to Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, “the region is about to get to know another invasive stink bug species. The new beast is known as bean platasipid (Megacopta cribraria), but is commonly referred to as kudzu bug for its tendency to feed upon kudzu, an exotic invasive weed common in the southern U.S.”

This species of stink bug is smaller than the stink bug Pennsylvania residents have become familiar with over the past few years and is a different shape, Penn State Extension specialist John Tooker wrote in a news release this past summer.

“Most recently it has been discovered in Sussex County, Del., and four counties in Maryland (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, and Prince George’s counties). We fear it will be discovered in Pennsylvania soon and are asking folks to keep a watchful eye and let us know if you find something that looks like it. We need to document its presence and let Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture confirm its identity,” Tooker said.

Channel 11’s sister station in Charlotte (WSOC-TV) reported in 2011 about the kudzu invasion in their area.

“We absolutely, totally anticipate they will get here,” Carnegie Museum entomologist Dr. John Rawlins said.

Rawlins said he’s been tracking the kudzu bug’s march north, and right now, they’ve reached Maryland.

“It will be another of these invasions, coming in huge numbers to people’s homes,” Rawlins said.

First discovered outside Atlanta in October 2009, the bugs were first thought to be beneficial because they could wipe out the rapidly-growing kudzu. Now, it appears they are damaging valuable bean crops.

According to kudzubug.org, the bugs are most active in the spring, but are also active in the fall.

“The second peak of nuisance activity occurs in the fall. Based on what is known about other insects, a combination of day length, change in kudzu physiology, dying host plants, and declining temperatures is thought to be responsible for the second peak of nuisance activity occurring in the fall. In recent years, the kudzu bugs' migration from host plants to overwintering sites has consistently began in mid-October and persisted until late November or early December,” kudzuburg.org states.

Kudzu bugs love cracks and crevices outdoors; indoors, they leave behind odors and stains, experts said. Additionally the bugs can cause an allergic reaction in some people when crushed. 

“(The odor) is potentially damaging to skin tissue, and can cause swelling or red welts,” Rawlins said. “They can’t be taken lightly. They need to be looked at very carefully.”

Rawlins said he predicts that the bugs will arrive locally sometime next year.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE will have more in Thursday's edition.