The Time I Defeated All The Cucumber Beetles



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.


  •  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!






The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

My kind friend Maxie watered my garden for a week while I was away. Thanks to her help, my garden survived that Stage 2 drought. But even Maxie’s sweet sweet Garden Whispering couldn’t save it from a barrage of pest ridiculousness. As I surveyed the damage, I wanted to hammer out a little Ball of Rage post about how stupid Nature is being. But then I realized that no one’s going to read this thing if I always sound like some kind of sullen pre-teen. After all, if I had a penny for every time I de-friended someone on Facebook for posting status updates that make me want to call the Waa Waa Waambulance, I’d have enough money to buy a box of Pop Tarts.

So here it is: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…



My Sweet Peas look like a bunch of hippies

After weeks of exposure and extreme gross negligence, my 10 asparagus roots got planted. I had assumed they were way past dead. SURPRISE SURVIVAL! These beauties keep popping up like little presents. I’m trying not to step on them, but I am bad at sports (i.e. most forms of coordination), so no promises.

No new cases of wilting tomatoes! Plus, the wilted one that I left is miraculously still making a delicious tomato. Thanks, Wilty.


We had abandoned all hope of enjoying our summer squash after the invasion of the vine borers, but we came home to 3 chewable-sized treats.

Would you believe it?! The zucchini survived the squash vine borer and subsequent borer-removal surgery (on the left). What resilient and forgiving plants.


RETURN OF THE VINE BORERS. While one of my zucchini plants is thriving post-surgery, its buddies were looking a little bit sucky (see the previous picture, right). Closer inspection showed that the little buggers were back… or were missed the first time. Since they were already damaged, this second shot at cutting open the stem to pluck out the grubs severed the plants from their main root systems. I buried the stumps in compost and crossed my fingers. LESSON LEARNED: If you’re cutting open to get at squash vine borer, you might as well be thorough the first time even if it means risking unnecessary damage to the plant. Likely, more borers than you think are hiding in the stem and you will only have to cut it open again later.

The dreaded cucumber beetle is all up in my grill. Don’t be fooled by the fancy stripes, this guy is NOT cool or fun. More on this later.

(THIS JUST IN: I now reign victorious over the cucumber beetles! Click here for the update)

Now, I’m no food critic, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to eat these tomatoes. They look like they got into a laser fight while I was gone. Since I left, they’ve developed open, black-rimmed scars on their undersides. More on this later, too.

(THIS JUST IN: the laser-tomato problem is called Catfacing! Click here for the update)