At Long Last, A Safer School for Marsh Fork | Inside the Kudzu Bug

On Jan. 7, more than 200 students of Marsh Fork Elementary began classes at a new facility a few miles from the old school in Raleigh County, W.Va. Because of health concerns brought on by a coal processing plant and a high-hazard coal slurry impoundment located adjacent to and above the original building, Marsh Fork was the center of a controversy that led to protests, arrests and nationwide publicity. Equipped with smart board presentation stations and computer labs with the fastest internet connection in the area, local officials say the new Marsh Fork Elementary is one of the state’s most advanced schools.

Inside the Kudzu Bug

Researchers are looking closely at the invasive kudzu bug, hoping that biological clues will give them an edge in their fight against this troublesome insect. Like the aggressive vine it dines on, the kudzu bug is spreading rapidly. According to The Macon Telegraph, it arrived in Atlanta, Ga., in 2009 and is now found in eight states. Tracie Jenkins, an assistant professor at University of Georgia, discovered the bug’s Japanese origins through DNA research. She also found that the kudzu bug relies on three specific bacteria to maintain basic functions. By studying the bacteria, Jenkins and her colleagues hope to find a way to exploit the bug’s weaknesses. Having the insect devour large patches of the invasive kudzu may be good news for native species, but the kudzu bug also inflicts similar damage on soybeans and other native and garden plants.

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