AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - They are small, but they attack in numbers.
Now researchers at Auburn University are trying to figure out how to rid the kudzu bug of the southeast and its damage to the agricultural industry.
"Its primary host is kudzu, however it has been found to cause serious damage to soy beans and any other vegetable crops," explains Alabama Extension Specialist, Dr. Xing Ping Hu.
Native to Asia, the kudzu bug was discovered in two Georgia counties and 2009 and two Alabama counties in 2010.
Since then it has spread to 11 states in the southeast.
"It's a great increase in the population and serious damage has increased the pests status from merely an urban nuisance to an important agriculture pest," says Hu.
Hu and her team have received two grants to help understand the Kudzu bug.
One goal is to figure out if the bug has any natural enemies that can take care of the problem before having to use significant amounts of toxic pesticides.
Their research has already led to some discoveries.
"We have found native insects that take care of this insect both in its adult stage its egg. So there are two different strategies to control this insect," explains AU graduate student, Julian Golec.
Kudzu bugs can be damaging to any to farmer as well as homeowners with gardens in their backyard.
Hu's team believes some plants could be wiped out, if a solution is not found.
"There are pests in home gardens. They do affect long beans and green beans and they will kill these plants. They also maybe problem on horticultural landscape plants," says Golec.