Organic Cucumber Beetle Control

As soon as cucumber-family crops become available, cucumber beetles find them and begin to feed. This is your cue to bring out the artillery; row covers and kaolin clay should be your first line of defense.

| April 16, 2013

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.

Cucumber Beetles

The most common of cucumber pests are black and yellow cucumber beetles, including striped cucumber beetles, spotted cucumber beetles, and similar species. In addition to chewing on leaves, flowers and fruit of cucumber, melon and squash, cucumber beetles transmit a disease called bacterial wilt, which causes plants to wilt and die, and may spread several viruses.

Organic controls for cucumber beetles include handpicking, excluding them with row cover barriers, or using kaolin clay to disguise plants. You also can make cucumber beetle traps and use companion planting to deter these cucumber pests. Cucumber beetles are found throughout North America, and more than one species may be found in the same garden.

What Are Cucumber Beetles?

These two types of cucumber beetles are frequent pests of cucumber family crops:

Striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum) are less than a quarter inch long, with three black stripes down their wing covers. The slightly larger Western striped cucumber beetle (A. trivittatum) is more common west of the Mississippi River. The little beetles fly away when disturbed, and are common visitors to all members of the cucumber family, including cucumbers, melons, gourd and squash.

The spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) is about one-third inch long, and is bright greenish-yellow with 12 black spots on its wing covers. The slightly smaller Western spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata undecimpunctata) is found in the far West, from Oregon to Arizona. Spotted cucumber beetles emerge later in spring than striped cucumber beetles.

7/23/2014 2:17:45 PM

Sticky traps can trap benificial insects. Is there a net size that will allow beetles but keep out beneficials? You could put the net over the tops of yellow cups with sticky inside the cups.

7/23/2014 2:14:35 PM

re; Coat the fingertips of a yellow rubber glove with petroleum jelly Petroleum jelly is a petroleum product, that is familiar and so might be thought of as "safe", but is not "organic"

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