Control Cucumber Beetles Without Poisons



Cucumber beetles can devastate an entire crop of cucumbers. Fortunately, they can be controlled without dangerous pesticides.

Cucumber beetles are about one-third inch long and have either a greenish yellow background with black spots or alternating black and yellow stripes.

Cucumber beetles overwinter as adults. Dead cucumber plants and other plants and weeds should all be cleared from the garden in the autumn. In the spring cucumber beetles lay eggs at the base of plants. The larvae feed on the roots and the adults on the leaves. Feces from the beetles harboring the bacterial wilt disease infect the cucumber plant with the bacterium that causes the plants to wither and die. Cucumber beetles are most prevalent May to early July with three generations a year.

Attract beneficial insects such as braconids, ichneumonids, chalcids, ladybird beetles, spiders, ground beetles, bees, and lacewings to the garden. Birds, toads, frogs and bats eat thousands of insects a day. Create a welcome habitat for them in your garden.

Add nematodes to your garden. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic roundworms that enter the body of pest insects and release bacteria which kills the pest.

Plant onions, chives, nasturtiums, tansy, marigolds, and radishes around the cucumber plants. They are excellent cucumber beetle repellents.

Cucumber beetles are highly attracted to blue hubbard squash plants. Trap crops planted around the cucumber bed can reduce infestation by up to 95%. Plant the trap crop a week or two before the cucumber seedlings emerge.

Diatomaceous earth can be placed around or dusted on each plant to discourage cucumber beetles.

Neem Oil Soap, hot pepper wax, onion, and garlic sprays make excellent natural repellents.

Cover young plants with floating row covers until just before bloom. If growing parthenocarpic varieties of cucumbers the covers can remain on the plants throughout the season.

Control weeds in the garden. Some weeds are host plants for the bacterial wilt disease.

Make yellow sticky traps by painting a piece of plywood or cardboard with Tanglefoot (TM).

Make cucumber beetle traps by soaking cotton wicks in allspice, clove or bay oil. These oils contain eugenol, the pheromone that attracts female beetles.

Be vigilant. Handpick any cucumber beetles seen on or around plants in the early morning or evening.

Lastly, beetles can be gathered in a small quantity, ground in a blender and strained. This liquid can be sprayed on the plants and will repel live cucumber beetles.

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Author: Marilyn Pokorney
Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment.
Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading.
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