ATHENS - Researchers say a kudzu-eating bug first spotted in Georgia a couple of years ago has now spread to Alabama, South Carolina and North Carolina.
University of Georgia entomologist Wayne Gardner tells the Athens Banner-Herald (http://bit.ly/qK6p8o ) that the bugs have expanded their territory from seven Georgia counties to one several times larger that covers large parts of Georgia, the Carolinas and four Alabama counties.
Gardner said recent tornados and thunderstorms probably have helped sweep the bugs northward, and that Hurricane Irene could push them into other territories.
Authorities say the bug - known as the bean plataspid - has reduced kudzu growth by a third on test plots around Athens.
Kudzu is fast-growing vegetation that covers millions of acres in the South.