Ben here with Tuesday's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with Tuesday's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

Ben here with Tuesday's edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

This tiny little guy is Megacopta cribraria, better known as the kudzu bug! This species is, unfortunately, one of the newer invasive species to pop up in the United States, having spread aggressively across a large portion of the southeastern U.S. since first appearing in northern Georgia in 2009.

The kudzu bug is native to India and China, and it's a shield bug (Pentatomoidea) in the same superfamily as stink bugs. Much like its brethren, it also releases a foul-smelling pheromone as a defense mechanism, and if you have sensitive skin, this liquid can even cause red welts to form if you touch it.

The kudzu bug sucks juices from the stems of a wide variety of plants. The good news is, if this species infests a kudzu plant (also an invasive species), it will reduce the growth of the kudzu plant. The bad news is, it also enjoys legumes, green beans, and soybeans, so it could potentially become a pretty terrible agricultural pest.

Invasive or not, the kudzu bug holds a special place in my heart for one reason: several years ago, before I was an employee of the Virginia Museum of Natural History, I donated several kudzu bugs to Dr. Kal Ivanov's bug lab and they turned out to be the very first kudzu bugs ever added to the VMNH collections! Hopefully one day I'll add the first example of something else to the collections (preferably something that isn't invasive, destructive, and stinky).

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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