Mexican Bean Beetle: Organic Control Methods

Create a cozy habitat for beneficial insects such as spined soldier beetles, tachinid flies and several species of tiny parasitic wasps to help with organic Mexican bean beetle control.

  • Mexican bean beetles are especially problematic in the rainy areas of the East, and tend to pose fewer problems in dry climates.
    Illustration By Keith Ward

This article is part of our Organic Pest Control Series, which includes articles on attracting beneficial insects, controlling specific garden pests, and using organic pesticides.

Mexican Bean Beetles (Epilachna varivestis)

The most common problem encountered when growing beans, Mexican bean beetle (Epilachna varivestis) adults and larvae feed on the leaves and pods of all types of beans. Badly hit plants produce poorly because so many leaves are consumed; bean pods can also be seriously damaged. Organic controls for Mexican bean beetles include crop rotation, handpicking and maintaining good insect balance in the garden so that a wide variety of natural predators are present. For large plantings, imported predatory wasps or infectious fungi also can be used. 

What Are Mexican Bean Beetles?

Native to a moist region of southern Mexico, Mexican bean beetles are now found wherever beans are grown. They are especially problematic in the rainy areas of the East, and tend to pose fewer problems in dry climates. Emerging in mid to late spring, just as beans begin growing vigorously, Mexican bean beetle adults look like large brownish-orange lady beetles with black dots over their backs. Adults are often seen lurking in bean foliage, looking for mates. Much more visible are the yellow, soft-bodied larvae that appear a few weeks later on both sides of bean leaves.

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