The biology and preliminary host range of Megacopta cribraria (Heteroptera: Plataspidae) and its impact on kudzu growth
The bean plataspid, Megacopta cribraria (F.), recently was discovered in the United States feeding on kudzu, Pueraria montana Lour. (Merr.) variety lobata (Willd.), an economically important invasive vine. We studied its biology on kudzu and its impact on kudzu growth. We also tested its ability to use other common forest legumes for oviposition and development. Flight intercept traps operated from 17 May 2010 to 31 May 2011 in a kudzu field near Athens, GA showed three peaks of adult flight activity suggesting there are two generations per year on kudzu. Vine samples examined for eggs from April 2010 to April 2011 and June to October 2011 showed two periods of oviposition activity in 2010, which coincided with the peaks in adult activity. In 2011, the second period of oviposition began on or before 24 June and then egg abundance declined gradually thereafter until late August when we recovered <2 eggs/0.5 m of vine. Samples of the five nymphal instars and adults on vines did not show similar trends in abundance. Adults did not lay eggs on the various legume species tested in 2010 in a no-choice test possibly because the cages were too small. In the 2011 field host range experiments conducted in a kudzu field by using 12 legume species, M. cribraria preferentially oviposited on kudzu over soybean, Glycine max Merrill., but they still laid 320 eggs per plant on soybean. Lespedeza hirta (L.) Hornem. and Lespedeza cuneata (Dum. Cours.) G. Don had 122.2 and 108.4 eggs per plant, respectively. Kudzu and soybean were the only species M. cribraria completed development on. Plots protected from M. cribraria feeding by biweekly insecticide applications had 32.8% more kudzu biomass than unprotected plots. Our results show that M. cribraria has a significant impact on kudzu growth and could help suppress this pest weed.