The Time I Defeated All The Cucumber Beetles

BEFORE

AFTER

The first morning that I went out on a mission to rid my garden of these stripy pests, I spotted and killed 50 of them. At first I assumed that this was a hopeless endeavor, but three days of hunting-n-squishing later, I could only find ONE lone cucumber beetle. Success! Success! Finally 🙂

THEY LOOK LIKE: Thinner, yellow ladybugs with black spots or stripes.

WHERE TO FIND THEM: Hanging out on your melons, cucumber, zucchini and squash- especially around the flowers, but also check the leaves and the foliage/soil around the plant.

THEY SUCK BECAUSE: Adults attack the plants’ leaves and their larvae destroy the stems and roots. Even if the chewing damage is not significant, they are spreaders mosaic virus, which causes mottled leaves and often curled/stunted foliage- infected plants have to be immediately uprooted and destroyed.

HOW I DEFEATED THEM: Scoping for them in my plants and then squishing them by hand or knocking them into a bowl filled with soapy water.

TIPS:

  •  They are next to impossible to catch if they escape your Fingers of Death and fly away. The beetles are slower (and therefore easier to catch and kill) during the early morning and evening when it’s cooler. I do most of my beetle-hunting then, but if you’ve got a big problem I might suggest several trips throughout the entire day/evening for the first couple of days to bring the numbers down initially.
  • They are poor clingers and are easily knocked off plants, so I simply hold a bowl filled with water and dish soap and under a leaf/flower and I shake it so the critters fall to their doom. If I have to, I’ll pluck them by hand but I try to avoid this because they easily fall and get lost in the soil if you’re not careful.
  • Your soil may contain eggs from the adults- cultivate in the fall to expose and kill any eggs before winter sets in.
  • If you’re intensely serious about your melons/squash/cucumbers/zucchini, you might want to consider keeping them under floating row covers (a propped-up special blanket around the plants that still allows for sunlight and ventilation), especially early in the season. Once the plants start flowering, though, the covers need to be removed so that pollinating bugs can get to the plants.
  • While the thought of Jimmying up some kind of trap might be tempting (especially if you’ve got a serious cucumber beetle problem), it’s not recommended. This is because the features you’d use to lure your cucumber beetles would catch your Good Guy insects, too. Not worth it, and kind of a jerk move, besides.
  • There is lots more information at Garden Harvest Organics if you’re looking for ideas to get rid of these suckers without using harsh chemicals. Check it out!

I AM THE CHAMPION MY FRIENDSSSSSS / AND I’LL KEEP ON FIGHTING ‘TILL THE END

I AM THE CHAMPION! I AM THE CHAMPION! NO TIME FOR LOSERS (cucumber beetles) ‘CAUSE I AM THE CHAMPION

(DUNT DUNT DUNNNN)…

OF THE WORLD

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7 thoughts on “The Time I Defeated All The Cucumber Beetles

  1. How do you knock the beetles offo f the plant without knocking off theflowers? MIne seem to be effed royally and scaring me… dang cucumber beetles. P.s. you are the champion, my friend.

    • NOOOOOOOOOO! Luky, I am around today so give me a call if you want me to some over for a squishing party- you know I am bad at sports, but if beetle-destroying were an athletic event, I would be at the Olympic Games in London right now! I find that if I flick or shake at the cucumber’s vine, the bugs fall off. Sometimes the flowers fall off, but my flowers seem to shrivel up and fall off after about a day of blooming anyway so I don’t worry about it. But maybe I should? I have to pick the bugs out of the bigger flowers (squash, zucs) and sometimes that tears the flower a bit, but the bees still hit them up. I have actually found that despite the damaged/prematurely knocked off flowers, the plants still continue to produce. Every war has a few casualties!

  2. Pingback: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly | Gardening for Chumps

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