Insects Seen at the Farm

Listing of Insects… both Good and Bad… seen at Skidaway Farms 

Unwanted Insects:

Army Worms:

The Army Worm

Army Worms have infested several tomatoes in the Farm…they bore into the fruit and lay their eggs inside…en route to killing the harvest.  One (non-local) gardener used Trichogramma Wasps to dispel the worms which worked well for years.  Hatch the wasps in the shade so the eggs won’t be destroyed by the hot sun.  You’ll need to hurry before it gets too hot for the parasitic wasps.

Eggs are attached to underside of leaves
Look for the baby worms, newly hatched on the underside of leaves and kill them for an immediate reduction in the infestation. Lacewings work well too. You can buy them online at ABRICO Organics at

For more info: Google “organic control of army worms” to find numerous treatments. If you cover your tomatoes with sheer material – like old nylon stockings tied to each branch -the worms can’t infest the tomatoes, but make sure there are no worms on the tomatoes before you cover them. These material bags will also keep out the dreaded leaf-footed bug.

Black Widow Spiders:    (sometimes called the southern black widow)

These insects can be considered beneficial in that they prey on several insects that damaged plants such as beetles.  However, their bite is enormously painful so most humans aren’t happy to find them in their garden.

This spider’s bite is much feared because its venom is reported to be 15 times stronger than a rattlesnake’s.  In humans, bites produce muscle aches, nausea, and a paralysis of the diaphragm that can make breathing difficult; however, contrary to popular belief, most people who are bitten suffer no serious damage—let alone death. But bites can be fatal—usually to small children and the elderly.

Fortunately, fatalities are fairly rare; these spiders are nonaggressive and bite only in self-defense, such as when someone accidentally sits on them or to defend their egg sac.

Notorious for their bloodthirsty courtship, black widow spiders are identified by the colored markings on their black bodies.  The female’s venom is at least three times more potent than that of the males making a male’s self defense bite ineffective. Research at the at the Univeristy of Hamburg, Germany suggests that this ultimate sacrifice strategy has evolved to promote the survival odds of the offspring.

The female is usually around 1.5 inches in length.  The male is much smaller with a ¼ inch body – either black or closer to the appearance of a juvenile in color (grayish to black with white stripes running across it with yellow and orange spots).

Male Black Widow

A female black widow spider can produce four to nine egg sacs in one summer, each containing about 100-400 eggs. Usually, eggs incubate for twenty to thirty days. Rarely no more than a hundred survive through this process. On average, thirty will survive through the first molting and cannibalism, lack of food, or lack of proper shelter. It takes two to four months for black widow spiders to mature enough to breed, however full maturation typically takes six to nine months. The females can live for up to five years, while a male’s lifespan is much shorter.  Not all males succumb to the female’s murderous ways after mating.  Some males may go on to mate with other females several times over.

Black widow spiders use their webs to attach their egg sacs and to ensnare their prey, which consists of flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, beetles, and caterpillars.

Black Widow Web and Egg Sac


Fire Ants:

Red Fire Ants

These voracious diggers bite humans and animals with a painful sting that leaves a lingering itch and… for many… a nasty welt that takes weeks to completely heal.  While Fire Ants do loosen the soil with their non-stop tunneling, their presence in the Farm is not wanted at all.  For more information, refer to our full article on theFarm’s Education page at  for several suggestions on getting rid of these ants.

Check out this website for further information on an organic Spinosad product that kills fire ants:


Harlequin Bugs:

The Harlequin Bug is a black stinkbug brilliantly marked with red, orange and yellow.  Adult bugs are 3/8 inch long.  It is destructive to cabbage broccoli, cauliflower and radishes.  In the South, the bug can achieve three generations a year.  In the North, there is only one generation annually and the insects overwinter as adults.

Harlequin Adult (left) and Nymph (right)

Harlequin bugs suck fluids from plant tissue. They leave yellow or white blotches on areas of leaves where they have been feeding; heavy infestations can cause plants to wilt, turn brown, and die.

The best and easiest way to kill them is while in the larvae or egg stage.

Eggs are layed in rows of up to 12 eggs


Kudzu Bugs:

Kudzu Bugs love legume plants


Kudzu eggs hatching


The dreaded Kudzu (sometimes called a Stinkbug) is an infester and unwanted inhabitant for the legume family.  Pole beans, peas and bush beans are this bug’s favorite choice of meal.  It sucks the life-juices of the plants by attaching to the vines and stalks then piercing the skin and drinking to abandon…death of the plant occurs soon after. 

Any insecticide will kill them, but being rapid multipliers, these bugs may take several applications to completely eradicate from your plot.  One Farmer has used repeated sprayings of a diluted soapy water recipe which has had a noticeable positive effect.  Here are two links for further information:

Leaf-footed Bugs:

Sometimes called “stink bugs” because of the foul odor they emit when crushed.  Leaf-footed bugs feed on a wide variety of developing fruit, including cotton, peaches, and tomatoes, and seeds such as beans, black-eyed peas, and sorghum. They also feed on the stems and tender leaves of plants such as potatoes.  Adults and nymphs like to suck the juice from leaves, shoots, fruits, buds, and seeds.

They are slow moving so they are easy to catch and kill.  Citrus oil products will eliminate a heavy infestation.

Here’s a link for additional pictures and information:

Squash Borers

Beginning in late June or early July, squash vine borer adults emerge from cocoons in the ground. Squash vine borer adults are good fliers for moths and resemble wasps in flight. These moths are unusual because they fly during the day while nearly all other moths fly at night.

Adult Squash Borer Moth
Adult Squash Borer Moth

Soon after emerging, squash vine borers lay eggs singly at the base of susceptible plants.

Squash Borer Eggs
Squash Borer Eggs

Approximately one week after they are laid, the eggs hatch and the resulting larvae bore into stems to feed.

Nymphs ready to attack vines!
Nymphs ready to attack vines!

The larvae feed through the center of the stems, blocking the flow of water to the rest of the plant. The larvae feed for four to six weeks, then exit the stems and burrow about one to two inches into the soil to pupate. They remain there until the following summer. There is one generation per year.

Evidence of Squash Borers
Evidence of Squash Borers

If you slit open a stem lengthwise with a fine, sharp knife, you will see the borer and eggs. The larva is a caterpillar with a fat, white, wrinkled body and brown head.  Manually remove the larvae. One plant can house several. Afterward, soil should be mounded over the stem to encourage re-rooting.

Yellow sticky traps and yellow-colored bowls of soapy water can be used to trap or drown the adult orange moths, which are attracted by the yellow squash blossom.

Beneficial Insects:


Our European Honey Bees are owned and maintained by Greg Stewart of the Coastal Empire Beekeepers Association.  These hives in the NW corner of the Farm – between the two deer fences – are home to thousands of bees that roam throughout the Farm and all of Skidaway island.  Bees are essential for the successful pollination of our plants…vegetables and flowers alike. 

A bee at work…pollen on its legs.

European Honey Bees are not normally aggressive BUT they will swarm and attack anything that approaches their hives….they are just protecting their homes!  So be careful if you must take a look…best to look from INSIDE the Farm…approach quietly and slowly  The green fabric on the inside of the fence is there to force the bees to return to the hives from above a human’s height…making it safer for one to approach the hives from inside the fence.

Here’s some quick facts about bees:

1. Bees don’t sleep.

2. Bees live for 6 weeks and work until they drop. Literally.

3. The honey bee has been around for millions of years.

4. Honey bees can see 300 frames per second—which means watching you swat your hand at one looks like a series of VERY slow moving images.

5. Bees can fly up to 20 miles per hour. Good luck outrunning one!

6. Egyptians used honey to embalm humans over 6,000 years ago.

7. The average bee can fly over 500 miles in its lifetime.

8. A single mature hive contains up to 50,000 bees!

9. Honey bees originate from Europe.

For more information, link to the Coastal Empire Beekeepers’ site:


Green Lacewing

Lacewings are the best all-purpose predator for your garden or greenhouse. About 10 of these Chrysoperla rufilabris lacewing eggs per plant or 1,000 eggs per 200 sq. ft. will control a moderate aphid population. For best results, we recommend three successive releases.   Lacewings control aphids, mealybugs, immature scales and whiteflies, thrips, spider mites and other plant pests.

You can get more information about these beneficials and also buy them online at ABRICO Organics at

Lady Bugs:

Several Farmers have ecstatically reported sighting of these beneficial in their plots!  A good sign for luck and a good harvest!

A Lady Bug at work

Ladybugs are not native to the United States. They were first imported from Australia to control aphids on orange trees. Since that time, hundreds of different kinds of ladybugs have been imported to control aphids on different crops.   Adult ladybugs can eat up to a 1000 aphids a day!   While aphids are the main course for a ladybug, they won’t pass up side dishes such as tomato hornworms, mealybugs, cabbage moths, whiteflies, and scales.

We’ve heard that wherever there are aphids, Lady Bugs will flock to that spot to eat them.  Buying Lady Bugs for your plot may prove frustrating because IF you don’t have any aphids to eat, the Ladies will fly to someone else’s plot where there are aphids…so best to let the Lady Bugs find you!


These may sting from time to time, BUT they are a beneficial insect for the Farm!  One wasp was seen recently eating an Army Worm in Section A! And a Red Wasp was devouring Kudzu bugs this week as well!

A Wasp at work…

There are close to 75,000 species of wasps including: Yellow Jackets, Mud Daubers, Pollen Wasps, Hornets, Spider-Hunter Wasps.

Almost every pest insect has at least one wasp species that preys upon it making wasps critically important in the natural control of these pests.  Parasitic wasps are increasingly used in commercial agricultural as they prey mostly on pest insects and have little impact on crops.  Yellow Jackets and Paper Wasps, for example, prey on caterpillars and other larvae that can destroy crops.  Some wasps feed on flower nectar and play a role in pollination.

One of our organic Farmers saw this on her tomatoes recently…

This tomatoes horn worm is about to die…

Those are Parasitic Wasp eggs that are eating their way from the inside out of the worm which will soon die. The wasps will then hatch, fly away, and lay eggs on another unfortunate worm and they are harmless to people.

Parasitic Wasps are very small, most less than 1/8 inch long, and usually not noticed.  They do not sting like other wasps.  They lay their eggs on or in the body of a host insect which eventually kills the host.   

Small but Powerful: the Parasitic Wasp

Many harmful insects such as aphids, whiteflies, scales, leafminers, and caterpillars are parasitized by these wasps.   Parasitic Wasps are an extremely important group of beneficial insects with about 16,000 species occurring in North America.

They are very prolific and can reproduce quickly, allowing for large populations which are very helpful in controlling insect pest infestations.  Adults are varied in their coloring, but larvae are usually cream colored.

One Farmer regularly releases parasitic wasp eggs into her garden to help in pest control.  These eggs can be bought at Arbico Organics on the web at:

Store them in your refrigerator until you are ready to distribute in the garden.

For more information on parasitic Wasps click on:

That’s a caterpillar about to be “parasitized”