Recently, I was just sitting on the floor, shelling a nice late harvest of black eyed peas from the community children’s garden, when I began to notice some powder coming from some of the more dried pods. I didn’t pay much attention at first and just brushed it away. No biggie.


Then when it kept coming out of the pods I thought this is weird and took a closer look, only to find… you guessed it… bugs in the beans!!! Grubs technically. Ugh!!!!!!! My heart dropped. These little grubs were eating the beans from the inside out!! They squirmed in the sunlight as I opened pod after pod to find them popping out of dried beans in dried pods. Is that what I get for being a lazy harvester? I should have gotten out there faster and gotten the pods off the vine!! Bad gardener!


After a little research, I have deduced that these critters are the larva stage of the cowpea curculio. A nasty little insect that is the prime destroyer of legumes in the south from Virginia to Florida.

A key sign of the presence of this pest is brown wart-ish/blister like spots on the hulls. I can’t say I remember seeing these at the time, but then again, the pods that had the powder and worms were much more dried, so the spots may not have been as noticeable.


Upon second look, the brown spot in the hull just to the right of my middle finger could be the spot, and I definitely see one in that bean. Maybe the adults inserted the egg through the hull spot and right into the bean.

According to the Florida and South Carolina Extension agencies, the best method of dealing with these rascals is prevention. They don’t fly, so crop rotation works well, as does keeping soil flora healthy, weeds down, and destroying weeds and crop residues of infected crops. My infested pods were planted on an outer edge of the garden by weedy grass. Next year I won’t be planting there!


UGH!!! The adult is more evil looking than the grubs! I should have posted this to scare you on Halloween! (Photo Credit: UF/IFAS)

Have you ever had these rascals invade your garden?

Share your solution in the comments below, please!

Let me see your garden pest pics! Share on Instagram #wingswormsandwonder

Seeds to Sprout:

Get more info on cowpea curculio from the University of Florida IFAS

See what Clemson Cooperative Extension has to say on cowpea curculio as well as a host of other southern garden invaders!

Thursday is the November full moon! This month’s moon was called the full beaver moon because it was the time to set traps before the swamps froze or the frost moon. I’m going with this name because it’s animal friendly and after last weekend’s cold snap I bet you can guess why!!

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You can run grub, but you can’t hide! Or, I guess you can hide in the pod… 

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  1. Hey there, I’m in CO, but I have (probably) a similar situation in my Old Mother Stallards. I say probably because the links to this photos are all broken. I’m assuming this is an old post, but I don’t see a date. Any chance you still have the pictures? I didn’t find a lot anywhere else.

    1. Sorry about that James. I’ve just gotten a brand new website and the designer is still working out the kink as to why not all the photos transferred over yet. Hopefully they will be there very soon!

  2. I ordered black beans, rice and chicken fingers from WAWA. Actually found what looked like tiny white worms coming out of the black beans. They were even moving. When I went to touch one of the worms that were sticking out. The worm moved back into the bean.

    This of course was after I had eaten most of the rice and black beans.

    You don’t think this will cause me any problems?

    Also, I know this wasn’t in my head. First ! saw what looked like strange shaped stuff in the bottom of the bowl. Allot of small, tiny white worms. Some moving, some not it was sickening. Is it true that black beans an have worms? And what will happen to me for eating about a cup of them?

    1. YIKES!!!! I totally believe you, totally sickening. I am assuming that the beans were cooked, right? Which is more disturbing because if the worms were in the beans pre cooking they would have been killed in the cooking process, which leads me to think that these worms hatched in the time between the cooking and your buying and eating. The worms in my beans were not cooked, and fresh harvested off the plant. I can’t say if they will cause you problems, but I sure would at least try to get my $ back on that food!! And at the risk of really freaking you out, if there was meat in with the beans there is a good chance that those worms were maggots. AHHH! It freaks me out for you just saying it! I’d say call a Dr. just to make sure? Maybe the best case scenario would be extra protein? EW!!! So sorry for you!

      1. As long as you feel fine I wouldn’t worry about it. Insects are part of most cultures diets. Americans just tend to be more finicky about it. The vast majority of insects are edible even if they don’t necessarily taste great.

        1. Benjamin, yep. I’ve eaten ants and crickets in Mexico. I didn’t eat them because I wasn’t sure what they were and they had eaten most of the bean themselves!

  3. Help! I have either these or regular, ole, bean maggots in some of my peas that were dried in the pod on the vine. Most of the beans are fine but in shelling, I am seeing a few tiny white worms. So how can I get rid of them before storing? The beans are already dried. I read that you can put them in cold water (the worms will come out) and then rinse and oven dry the beans but the temp recommended was lower than my oven even goes. I really don't want to throw out a massive crop because of a few worms, nor do I want to ingest worms! Ugh. Any advice?

    1. Dear Lily, I’m so sorry for your bean bugs! Sadly, I don’t know any other way to deal with it than boil and eat them all right away (with worms) or to throw them in the compost. I had the similar issue and my only solution was to compost the whole lot. If you want to try the cold water method you discovered, you could perhaps buy or borrow a dehydrator from someone. That will dry the beans out at a low temp, or maybe just cook the beans and freeze them? Good luck!

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