How to Control Cucumber Beetles

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About Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber beetles are one of the more harmful insects in the vegetable garden. Controlling cucumber beetles is essential if this pest is in your area.

In the larva stage, these little grubs feed on plant roots, robbing valuable nutrients. The adult beetle feeds on plant foliage, flowers and pollen. In addition, the adult is notorious for transmitting plant disease, most notably bacterial wilt.

There are two kinds of cucumber beetles:

  • The Striped Cucumber Beetle is 1/4″ long. It has a yellow-green body with three black stripes.
  • The Spotted Cucumber Beetle is also 1/4″ long. It has a yellow-green body with 12 black spots.

These beetles are a real threat to cucumbers, pumpkins, and other members of the Cucurbit family (squash, melons, watermelons). They also affect a wide range of plants in the larva stage. 

Also, in the larva stage, it is known as the Southern Corn rootworm.

Cucumber Beetles Life Cycle

There are usually one (northern areas) or two (in the south) generations of beetles per year.

The adults emerge in the spring, after overwintering in plant debris, in fields and wooded areas. They arrive after the last frost. Adult females lay their orange eggs at the base of plants.

When the eggs hatch, the larva digs into the soil, in search of roots to feed upon.

Beetle Damage

As thee beetles go from plant to plant, adults can transmit bacterial wilt and aid in the spread of powdery mildew. Importantly, their diet includes pollen, which can result in poor pollination. For example, go out into your garden in mid-morning and you might find an absence of the pollen necessary for pollination to occur.

Larva feed on plant roots, robbing the plant of needed nutrients.

How to Control Cucumber Beetles

There are a variety of ways to control these pests:

  • Use pesticides with pyrethrum. Dusts and sprays work well.

  • Use floating row covers to keep insects off your plants.

  • Pick insects off the leaves of plants.

  • Beetles overwinter in plant debris. Remove plant debris in the fall.

Organic spray recipes – find out how to make a variety of organic sprays.

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