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Releasing wasp to control Kudzu bugs

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Scientists propose releasing wasp to control Kudzu bugs

By Jeff Chirico

Mar 26, 2012 11:00 p.m.

TIFTON, GA (CBS ATLANTA) – University of Georgia entomologist, John Ruberson, said releasing a tiny wasp may be the best way to control the spread of the Kudzu bug in United State’s southeastern region.

The Kudzu bug, which is native to Japan, was first discovered in Georgia in 2009. Within two years the fast-spreading insect, which feeds and breeds on Kudzu vines, had been found in four southeastern states, including South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.

The bugs have also frustrated homeowners who find the stinky insects in and around their homes and have destroyed soybean crops in Georgia.

Dr. Ruberson said researchers plan to file a permit application with the United States Department of Agriculture to release a tiny wasp called Paratelenomus saccharalis. The wasp is the Kudzu bug’s natural predator in Japan, but is not present in the United States.

Ruberson said the wasp, which is the size of a dust particle, inserts its eggs inside Kudzu bug eggs. The developing wasp eats the inside of the Kudzu bug egg, then flies away.

Ruberson and other scientists believe the wasp is safe to release in Georgia because research shows the wasp doesn’t attack other species.

“Its whole life is built around destroying Kudzu bug eggs,” said Ruberson. “The wasp puts one egg in each egg. They’ll pretty much wipe out an egg mass.”

Ruberson said the wasp does not sting.

There are risks involved in releasing a non-native insect into the environment. Ruberson said because of the concerns, the government will require researchers to follow a series of steps to demonstrate the insect will not endanger native plants or insects.

According to Ruberson, researchers plan to apply for the permit within two months.

Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


Written by vaphc

March 27, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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