Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Peppervine Fruit, Watergrass, Juvenile Stinkbug, Velvet Bean & Woolly Bears


Peppervine with fruit.
Photo: Chaery Knight

Even though it is harder for gardeners to work in their gardens and yards because of the oppressive August heat, they're still sending their questions and pictures faithfully.

Chaery sent an email and image during this past weekend and asked, “My niece would like to know what this is.”

Area Horticulture Agent consulted with a Horticulture Agent who said, “[It’s] Peppervine [and it’s] in the grape family. A lot of people mistake it for poison ivy, [and] other than being an aggressive grower, it’s harmless.”


Southern watergrass, a water-loving plant.
Photo Melissa Jeane

David… came into the [Leesville] office today wanting to know what kind of weed this is and how to get rid of it. He said he has tried multiple pesticides with no luck.”

Dr. Ron Strahan helped to identify this plant and made a recommendation on treating it, “Southern watergrass…has to be in a damp area. There’s no selective removal…. Spray glyphosate and re-sod after fixing drainage (if possible).


Juvenile forms of the southern green stinkbug.
Photo: Brenda Laurence

Brenda sent a question and a very good image of a pest, “What kind of bug is this? Kind of looks like some sort of beetle. It's on my purple hull peas.”

Area Horticulture Agent suspects these bugs to be juveniles of some type of stinkbug. According to an insect specialist, these insects are young southern green stinkbugs (GSB). Horticulture Agent suggested to Brenda to treat her purple hull peas with Sevin or Malathion as soon as possible to prevent sustained damage from GSB.


Velvet beans in the pod.
Photo: Lisa Johnson

A gardener came by to play “stump the county agent” with this specimen.

The Horticulture Agent knew this sample is a legume, but was he unable to identify the pod. The gardener won this round and stumped the county agent with his velvet beans. Agent had seen the bean before, but not in the pod. The fuzzy is an irritant so the beans were scanned in a plastic sack. Also, these bean are good forage for livestock, but are unsuitable for people to eat.


Possible cocoon of a wooly bear caterpillar.
Photo: Janis Lamartiniere

Most emails are direct and to the point. “Do you know what this is?” asks Janis, and here is her image to the left.

Again, Horticulture Agent sent the image to Baton Rouge for identification. The specialist was unsure and said, “I’m not real sure but it looks like the beginning of the cocoon of one of the woolly bear caterpillars.” Agent consulted, and this website shared this information, “Very hairy caterpillars known as woolly bears make their appearance in late summer and autumn. Their name comes from their hairy appearance, their wandering habits and the fact that they feed on a variety of plants--similar to bears. The caterpillars rarely cause concern because the damage they do occurs so late in the growing season.”

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent, 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the email address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

8/22/2019 6:57:20 PM
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