Archive for the ‘Bugs’ Category

Lady Bug Look-alike but it’s a Colorado Potato Beetle

June 7, 2011

I was out in the garden and noticed this bug on my tomato plants.  At first, I thought it was a Lady Bug metamorphasizing.

But it’s not.

I’m not sure what it is actually.

They remind me of a tick when it’s swelled up and they’re very messy – yep, a lot of poop and whatever that liquid is 😦

The front end looks like some sort of a beetle…

They have a neck…

and really squishy looking bodies with lots of dots on the side.

The “tail” reminds me of the back two “legs” of a caterpillar.

And the spots…

The more these bugs ate, the bigger they got – all puffed up.

Don’t they sorta look like a Lady Bug??

But they’re not.

Anyone know what this is?  Would love the info so I can know too!


Garden Walk – May 13, 2011

May 13, 2011

This year I tried something new with my cucumbers.  I’d seen in a book where the person had used a bed frame as a trellis.  Only it was a horizontal trellis.  This is a left-over bunk bed frame.

The idea is to get the plants to grow on top of the frame and the cucumbers, or whatever else you grow, will hang under the frame.  This will help with air circulation, mildew problems and keeping the fruit or vegetables cleaner.  And maybe I’ll see the cucumbers before they become baseball bat size!

I have lots of these on my plants…

And these…

But this is my favorite!!!

Ever grown Tomatillos?  They’re a staple in Mexican cuisine and wonderful in salsa!

The flowers remind me of Spanish dancers…

And the fruit or tomato comes wrapped in a paper sack.  They’re  wonderful to grow and by the looks of mine – we’re going to have an abundance this year 🙂

And here’s the baby tomato we’re all familiar with.

Was glad to see this on the underside of one of the tomato leaves.  Know what it is?

It’s the egg of a Lacewing – a beneficial insect for the garden.  I love how they look like little balloons on the end of a string…

And I saw these on my tomato plants too.

This one plant has more than I like to see…

But between this Lady Bug and the Lacewing, they won’t be there long!

On the same leaf as the Lacewing egg, I also saw these…

And these…

Three different types of eggs on this one leaf.  I feel like there’s a major battle about to begin.  I know that insects lay eggs where they know there will be food.  I just want to know if these two are beneficials or not.  I left them on the leaf so I can check on them to see what emerges.

Okay, I’m thinking Sci-Fi….

And the alien is born!!!!   (the flower of a wild onion)

Did I tell you that one of my Guineas is setting?  I’m so excited, although I’ve heard they’re not great mothers…

She sure is beautiful and so far, very committed!  Hmmm- shouldn’t that one egg be tucked up underneath, Momma Guinea?

These were everywhere today in one part of my flower garden.

I believe this is the American Hover Fly and they are hugely beneficial!

Adult drinks nectar. The larva preys on aphids and larvae of scale insects.

Ahh, and the jury is out on this one!  Stink bug or Soldier bug?  One is good, the other is not…

It was on my Rue plant and I found it interesting that it was yellow underneath.  Don’t remember noticing this before…

The flowers on this plant are yellow and about the same size as this insect.

And one of my favorites!!  Found this Praying Mantis on the Lambs Ear.  Must feel like a giant feather bed!

This little guy was only about a 1/2″ long…

Ever look closely at all the little tiny flowers of the Yarrow plant?  They’re beautiful….

Thanks for sharing my walk with me 🙂

All Day Garden Workshop – April 2, 2011

January 4, 2011

Class fee:

Early registration – $50 per person

After March 1st – $60 per person

**There is a class limit of 30

Please contact to register for this workshop or call 770-289-2301

This workshop is designed to cover all the basics for a successful gardening season.  There will be door prizes and drawings throughout the day, adding to the assortment of tools needed for starting your own garden.  A packet of information will be available for each workshop.

Lunch will be provided by the Lazy B Farm “chefs” using items from our own gardens.

Workshop Schedule:

7:45 am: Meet and Greet

8am – 10: Square Foot Gardening

10:15 – 12:00 pm:  Herbs

12:00 – 1:00:  Lunch    Guest Speaker – Salina from Remedy (herbal shop) in Athens

1 – 2:45:  Beneficial Insects     Guest Speaker – Amanda Tedrow

3 – 5:00:  Hoop Houses

Class Description

Square Foot Gardening

We’ll gather in the classroom and cover the basics of gardening, soil preparation and the technique of Square Foot Gardening.  Together, we’ll construct a square foot garden, complete with plants.


Herbs are such versatile plants, although most people only use them for culinary purposes.  We’ll discuss the best way to grow herbs, how to incorporate them into your landscape, and the herbs that grow well here in the Southeast.  As a class, we’ll harvest herbs from the farm and learn how to preserve them for future use.  We ill also discuss the more “unconventional” uses for herbs like teas and tinctures.

Beneficial Insects

I love bugs and have realized how beneficial bugs can be for our garden…if you know the good ones from the bad ones.  During this class, we’ll scour the garden and find “specimens” to bring back to the classroom.  We’ll identify the bugs, whether they are beneficial or not, and how to “organically” get rid of the bad ones.

Our guest speaker will be Amanda Tedrow who has just completed her Master’s degree in Entomology – bugs!

Hoop Houses

You may have heard of hoop houses but what is the difference between a hoop house and a green house?  What’s the benefit of a hoop house?  How can I use them successfully in my yard?

We will discuss this and more in this session.  Time permitting, we will construct a hoop house that will be perfect for any backyard.

What to Bring:

*Notebook and writing utensil if you’re the kind who likes to take notes.  (There  will be handouts for each workshop.)

* Boots and gardening gloves – you will be playing in the dirt.

* Extra clothes if you really like to get into your work.

* Coffee mug if you’re a coffee or tea drinker – helps us in our efforts to be good stewards of the environment

* Containers to carry home plants

* Water and snacks – there will be light breakfast items available in the morning

If you’d like to attend this workshop, please contact to register or call 770-289-2301

Quick! Get a Jar!

October 13, 2010

A few weeks ago I was walking with a couple of families on a Homestead Tour here at the farm.  We were headed to the orchard when this wonderful creature was spotted meandering across our driveway.  The families were aware of my love for critters of the insect world and pointed him out to me.  How beautiful and so big!!  I’d not seen one of these caterpillars before.  My guests waited patiently while I ran back to the house to grab a jar with a lid.

I carried this caterpillar around with me for the rest of the Homestead Tour.  He was more than ready to be set free when I finally had time to grab my camera.

He’s enormous!  I used my cell phone to give some sort of perspective.  My cell phone is 4″ long.

I love the creative look of this caterpillar but I have to admit, my favorite part was….

….his back end!  It looked like a lobster tail to me.

But those 2 little “fins” are actually legs.  Just look at those tiny little black feet!

A whole bunch of tiny feet and this caterpillar used them efficiently – he moved constantly.

I love the color of his spots – the creativity of insects, from color schemes to anatomical parts is so fascinating to me.

And those bright yellow “horns” – they look like little flames!

All that hair!  I’ll never complain about my bad hair days again 🙂

See those little white eggs attached to the caterpillar?  My guess is that a parasite wasp has laid a few eggs – hopefully not enough to kill this massive caterpillar.

Wanna know what this beautiful creature will turn into when he emerges from his cocoon?

An Imperial Moth!!  I figured it had to be a huge butterfly or moth from the size of this caterpillar.  Ever read the book, Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter?  It’s a fabulous book and because the author was a naturalist, he weaves a great  deal about all kinds of butterflies and moths into his story.  That’s how I remembered the larger moths from this area.

Here’s what an Imperial Moth looks like and a few facts about this incredible caterpillar….

The imperial moth caterpillar is a solitary feeder. It may occur on any of the many host trees, and is usually encountered most commonly in late summer and fall. These large larvae individually can consume a lot of foliage, but are seldom present in sufficient numbers to cause serious damage. Large, colorful, and armed with horns and spines, the caterpillar may look fierce and dangerous; however, it is harmless and does not “sting” or stab man.

Narceus Americanus Millipede

September 2, 2010

Over the weekend, a friend and I went hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  The trail we took was covered with a canopy of trees and wound its way along the river.  We each had a camera so it was definitely a “stop/start” kind of hike.  I love looking for the unusual and we were not disappointed…

We came upon this bug as the sun was beginning to set.  It was about 4″ long and moving rather slowly in the the leaves and underbrush.

Apparently, they’re forest foragers and help with the decomposing process.

The outside…so beautiful in its striped coat.

So many legs!!!  We both laughed as we joked about having to cut the toenails of all those feet or having to put socks on in the winter 🙂

We tried to touch it and it curled up into a little ball, head in first for protection.

After a bit, he uncurled and went on his way, doing what millipedes do in the middle of the forest – an integral part of the ecosystem.

For more in depth info on this fascinating creature, check out this link.

Do You Know this Caterpillar??

August 25, 2010

Thanks to Sandi – this is the larva for  the Pandorus Sphinx Moth (Eumorpha pandorus)

Yesterday I was weeding in the garden and found this caterpillar on the Bee Balm plant.  I’d not seen this kind before and at first thought it was the Tomato Hornworm.  I looked in the books I have and he was not in them.  So I’m asking you if you know what he is.

He’s a fat one and fairly big…

He pulls his head back inside all these rolls when touched.

This is what he looks like on the move…

A dot on his back-end…sorry the picture’s a little fuzzy.

Oh!  And such pudgy little legs!

Pleading with me to please take the camera out of his face and let him go…

I love those little sucker feet.  Remind me of magnets when they hook together.

So, if anyone can send some info my way, I’d really appreciate it!  I know there are some avid bug enthusiasts out there 🙂

Saddleback Caterpillar

August 9, 2010

We had our first encounter with this menacing little caterpillar while we were picking Elderberries.  Lauren was reaching for a bunch of berries when all of a sudden she quickly pulled back her hand saying she had been stung.  I looked at her pinky finger and it was all red and welts were starting to show where she had been “hit”.

It didn’t take us long to find the culprits….

I cut the twig where we found these little caterpillars and put them in a bag to take home to photograph.

They’re very cute and quite beautiful but oh, do they hurt.

These are called Saddleback Caterpillars.  I had never seen them before and after watching Lauren and the pain she was feeling, was glad I had never encountered them before today.  After reading about them, I was quite intrigued about their natural defense mechanism.  Lauren was still dealing with the affect of the stings 2 days later – and these weren’t even adults!

Here’s what the experts say:

Saddleback Caterpillar

SIZE: 1 inch (25 mm)

COLOR: Purplish-brown body with a purplish saddle shape on its green back.

DESCRIPTION: The saddleback caterpillar is about an inch long, and has poisonous spines on four large projections (tubercles) and many smaller ones that stick out from the sides of its body. The “saddle” consists of an oval purplish-brown spot in the middle of a green patch on the back. Saddleback caterpillars feed on the leaves of basswood, chestnut, cherry, plum, oak, and other trees and shrubs.

HABITAT: The saddleback caterpillar is a general feeder and is generally found on shade trees and ornamental shrubs in late summer.

LIFE CYCLE: Adults tend to take flight in mid-summer.

TYPE OF DAMAGE: The poisonous hairs or spins are hollow and connected to underlying poison glands. Contact with them causes a burning sensation and inflammation that can be as painful as a bee sting. The irritation can last for a day or two and may be accompanied by nausea during the first few hours. Usually the site of contact reddens and swells much like a bee sting.

CONTROL: A person “stung” by a poisonous caterpillar should immediately wash the affected area to remove any insect hairs and poison that remain. An ice pack will help reduce swelling, and creams and lotions containing steroids will lessen the discomfort and promote healing. Persons known to be sensitive to insect stings should consult a physician. Stinging caterpillars rarely occur in sufficient numbers to be considered plant pests, but people who work with ornamental plants should learn to recognize them and avoid touching them.

Eric Day, Manager, Insect Identification Laboratory

For as beautifully striking as these caterpillars are, it would be a good idea to admire them from afar!

Cicada Killers!

July 8, 2010

Last year was my first encounter with these very large flying insects!  They’re a bit menacing and loud – like a B-52 bomber.  They were digging tunnels in my garden squares and I saw them flying with very large prey.

They’re called Cicada Killers and this year I have a bunch of them in the garden- flying and buzzing and dive bombing.  Only they’re not after me.  These male Cicada Killers are extremely territorial and they chase off anything that comes into their area, especially another Cicada Killer unless, of course, it’s a female ready to mate!  They remind me of humming birds the way they chase off one another 🙂

They seem to like my squares that have the squash in them.  So I have a question – will these males keep away the Squash Vine Borer also??!  I’m hoping so…

They’re rather fascinating and I don’t mind  having them in the garden, although for those who don’t like flying insects, they’re a bit unnerving.

Here’s the general information:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Eastern Cicada Killer
Adult male (left) and female
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Suborder: Apocrita
Superfamily: Apoidea
Family: Crabronidae
Subfamily: Bembicinae
Tribe: Gorytini
Genus: Sphecius
Species: S. speciosus
Binomial name
Sphecius speciosus
(Drury, 1773)

Cicada killer wasps are large, solitary wasps in the family Crabronidae. The name may be applied to any species of Crabronid which uses cicadas as prey, though in North America it is typically applied to a single speciesSphecius speciosus, often simply referred to as “The cicada killer”. However, since there are multiple species of related wasps, it is more appropriate to call it the Eastern cicada killer. This species occurs in the eastern and midwest U.S. and southwards into Mexico and Central America. They are so named because they hunt cicadas and provision their nests with them. In North America they are sometimes called sand hornets, although they are not hornets, which belong to the family Vespidae.


Five female Eastern Cicada Killers,Sphecius speciosus (Orangedale, Florida, USA).

Adult Eastern cicada killer wasps are large, 1.5 to 5 cm (2/3 to 2 inches) long, robust wasps with hairy, reddish and black areas on the thorax (middle part), and are black to reddish brown marked with light yellow stripes on the abdominal (rear) segments. The wings are brownish. Coloration may superficially resemble that of yellowjackets orhornets. The females are somewhat larger than the males, and both are among the largest wasps seen in the Eastern United States, their unusual size giving them a uniquely fearsome appearance. European hornets (Vespa crabro) are often mistaken for Eastern cicada killers.

Life cycle and habits

A female Sphecius speciosus digging a burrow next to a driveway (Pennsylvania, USA).

This female cicada killer tired while carrying her cicada in flight and landed short of her burrow. She accepted a “lift”, walked up the observer’s arm carrying her cicada and flew off again. (Pennsylvania, USA).

Solitary wasps (such as the Eastern cicada killer) are very different in their behavior from the social wasps such as hornets,yellowjackets, and paper wasps. Cicada killer females use their sting to paralyze their prey (cicadas) rather than to defend their nests. Adults feed on flower nectar and other plant sap exudates. Adults emerge in summer, typically beginning around late June or early July and continuing throughout the summer months. They are present in a given area for 60 to 75 days, until mid-September. The large females are commonly seen in mid-to-late summer skimming around lawns seeking good sites to dig burrows and searching shrubs and trees for cicadas.

The males are more often seen in groups, vigorously challenging one another for position on the breeding aggregation from which they emerged, and generally pursuing anything that moves or flies within close proximity. It is not unusual to see two or three male wasps locked together in midair combat, the aggregate adopting an erratic and uncontrolled flight path until one of the wasps breaks away. The male wasp’s aggressive behavior is extremely similar to that of another robust insect of the area, the male carpenter bee. In both cases, while the males’ vigorous territorial defense can be extremely frightening and intimidating to human passersby, the males pose no danger whatsoever. They will only grapple with other insects, and cannot sting.

This ground-burrowing wasp may be found in well-drained, sandy soils to loose clay in bare or grass-covered banks, berms and hills as well as next to raised sidewalks, driveways and patio slabs. Females may share a burrow, digging their own nest cells off the main tunnel. A burrow is 15 to 25 cm (6 – 10 in.) deep and about 3 cm (1.5 in.) wide. The female dislodges the soil with her jaws and pushes loose soil behind her as she backs out of the burrow using her hind legs, which are equipped with special spines that help her push the dirt behind her. The excess soil pushed out of the burrow forms a mound with a trench through it at the burrow entrance. Cicada killers may nest in planters, window boxes, flower beds or under shrubs, ground cover, etc. Nests often are made in the full sun where vegetation is sparse.

After digging a nest chamber in the burrow, female cicada killers capture cicadas, paralyzing them with a sting; the cicadas then serve as food to rear their young. After paralyzing a cicada, the female wasp straddles it and takes off toward her burrow; this return flight to the burrow is difficult for the wasp because the cicada is often more than twice her weight. After putting the cicada in the nest cell, the female deposits an egg on the cicada and closes the cell with dirt. Male eggs are laid on a single cicada but female eggs are given two or sometimes three cicadas; this is because the female wasp is twice as large as the male and must have more food. New nest cells are dug as necessary off the main burrow tunnel and a single burrow may eventually have 10 to 20 cells. The egg hatches in one or two days, and the cicadas serve as food for the grub. The larvae complete their development in about 2 weeks. Overwintering occurs as a mature larva within an earth-coated cocoon. Pupation occurs in the nest cell in the spring and lasts 25 to 30 days. There is only one generation per year and no adults overwinter.

This wasp is frequently attacked by the parasiticvelvet ant” wasp, Dasymutilla occidentalis, also known as the “cow-killer” wasp. It lays an egg in the nest cell of the cicada killer, and when the cicada killer larva pupates, the parasitoid larva consumes the pupa.

Interaction with humans

A male Eastern Cicada Killer guarding its territory and looking for females with which to mate.

Although cicada killers are large, female cicada killer wasps are not aggressive and rarely sting unless they are grasped roughly, stepped upon with bare feet, or caught in clothing, etc. One author who has been stung indicates that, for him, the stings are not much more than a “pinprick”[2]. Males aggressively defend their perching areas on nesting sites against rival males but they have no sting. Although they appear to attack anything which moves near their territories, male cicada killers are actually investigating anything which might be a female cicada killer ready to mate. Such close inspection appears to many people to be an attack, but male and female cicada killers don’t land on people and attempt to sting. If handled roughly females will sting, and males will jab with a sharp spine on the tip of their abdomen. Both sexes are well equipped to bite, as they have large jaws; however, they don’t appear to grasp human skin and bite. They are non-aggressive towards humans and usually fly away when swatted at, instead of attacking. Cicada killers exert a natural control on cicada populations and thus may directly benefit the deciduous trees upon which their cicada prey feed.

Being bumped by a male feels like a pinprick, being stung by a female feels like a hot nail being driven into your flesh for hours, leaves bruising and burning for days.

Mystery Bug- Bean Plataspid, Megacopta cribraria

July 7, 2010

**Since posting this blog, I’ve learned that the smaller beetle is the Plataspid Beetle, native to China and discovered here in the US last October.  The larger bug is the Florida Predatory Stink Bug.**

I headed to the garden today with my camera because I have a beetle on my bean plants that I’ve not seen before.  I wanted to take pictures to post to see if you all could help me out in the identification of this bug.  I can’t tell if it’s doing any damage to my plants and there are bunches of them.

This is the first I’ve seen a single one by itself.  They’re in clusters on the bean vines.

And then I saw the most wonderful sight!

I wasn’t sure if what I was seeing was accurate.  It looked as if this bigger bug was piercing the little beetle and sucking out the insides.

So I got closer with the camera.  The orange and black bug didn’t move much but kept trying to back out of the sunlight.  Guess it prefers to eat in solitude 🙂

I found 2 dead little beetles on the trellis.  The longer the big bug sucked, the closer his “straw” drew back toward himself.

I can’t tell if there’s a second “rod” inserted in the little beetle.  I was fascinated with this whole process.  And the big bug was pretty fat towards the end of this little beetle.

I’ve seen this orange and black bug around the garden.  In fact, I squashed one thinking it was a Squash Vine Borer moth.  But I don’t know what it is!  My friend and I looked in books and the internet trying to identify it.  The closest we came to was a Milkweed Beetle but they’re not predacious according to the book.

But if this orange and black bug eats these little beetles, it can certainly stay.  Only, if it’s full after just 3 beetles….

I wish he’d call his friends and relatives in for a party!!!!

Swallowtail Caterpillars

June 30, 2010

I love going out to garden and finding my dill, parsley, and rue plants full of the Swallowtail caterpillars.  Yep, they pretty much demolish some of my plants but I don’t mind at all.  When they go floating by me while I’m working, or when my children carry them to me on their hands, I am determined to feed these caterpillars even more.

Today I had the kids in my homestead tour group come over to look at the dill plant.  I asked them, “What do you see?”

It took them a little bit but eventually they noticed the caterpillars… and we talked about camouflage  and how it helped the caterpillars.  And then I had them poke the caterpillar and sniff the air…

I love taking pictures of these guys, they don’t move very fast and that’s extremely helpful to a person like me with a camera 🙂

They’re beautiful….

Here’s what the experts say about them.

Swallowtail butterflies are large, colorful butterflies that form the family Papilionidae. There are at least 550 species, and though the majority are tropical, members of the family are found on all continents except Antarctica. The family includes the largest butterflies in the world, the birdwing butterflies of Australia (genus Ornithoptera).[1]

Swallowtails differ from all other butterflies in a number of anatomical traits.

Many swallowtail butterfly caterpillars have attractive colors and patterns, and most of them have a bad-smelling, orange-colored, y-shaped “osmetrium” just behind the head which is turned inside out when the caterpillar feels threatened.

We’ve also collected the chrysalises and put them in a jar and waited for the butterflies to emerge.  It’s a fascinating project and the kids love it.

Butterflies are great pollinators so it’s worth the sacrifice of a few plants!