Know Your Farmer Monday @ ARTfarm. Open 3-6!

Q: Are centipedes good or bad?

A: Of all the creepy crawlies that quickly scurry under the bed at night, Virgin Islanders love to hate centipedes. But centipedes are top predators in the insect world. This makes them extremely beneficial for an organic vegetable farm. Centipedes take the night shift from wasps and birds, hunting and devouring slugs, caterpillars, cockroaches and countless other garden vegetable pests from dusk till dawn. In turn, centipedes themselves become a rich protein feast for birds and other omnivores further up the food chain.20140331-143745.jpg
It takes a year for the average centipede to reach sexual maturity. The mother will lay a small number of eggs and then protect them devotedly with her body until they hatch. If you pick up an object in the garden and find a centipede curled up in the soil underneath who doesn't immediately scurry away, it's probably a mother protecting her brood. Take the opportunity to look closely at her. Centipedes can have incredible rainbows of color from red to yellow to bright blue and purple in their exoskeletons, with delicate little legs perfectly aligned in a celebration of fractal beauty.

A centipede delivers a venomous bite through specially modified front legs near their head. A centipede bite is not typically deadly for humans or pets, but can give a strong reaction like a bee or wasp sting and should be treated as such.

Centipedes have terrible vision and can only see light and shadow. This is why, when you switch on the light in a dark room, a centipede may scurry toward you. They are not attacking you, but are simply trying to get out of the light, and your shadow is appealing to them.

If you have a lot of centipedes in and around your home, one of the most effective ways to get rid of them is to keep a chicken loose around in your yard. Laugh if you will, but integrated pest management is an important part of managing pest loads on an organic farm, and the delicious eggs are a big plus.

Monday's stand, open 3–6 p.m., Transfer Day 2014: Freshly made sweet salad mix, spicy salad mix, arugula, beautiful carrots, Bodhi beans, chili peppers, cherry, plum, heirloom and slicer tomatoes, and passionfruit. Raw local honey from Errol, and Wanda's fantastic honey mustard dressing and honey mead sampler gift boxes, as well.

A lovable animated centipede stars in this family movie from the Roald Dahl book, James and the Giant Peach!

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