Despite some insects’ beneficial purpose to the environment, they are generally disliked and viewed as pests. This sentiment is even more true regarding garden pests attacking your vegetables. Cucumber beetles are among the worst problems because they are vectors for bacteria which makes knowing how to get rid of cucumber beetles crucial for the health of your garden.
Adult cucumber beetles are small insects with black spots or black stripes that you’ll find wandering on the stem and leaves of your plants. Identify the damage they cause by sections of leaves being chewed through or leaves turning yellow and wilting.
Cucumber beetle refers to two genera of beetles, Acalymma vittatum and Diabrotica undecimpunctata. These beetles get their name from their tendency to target Cucurbit crops like watermelon, zucchini, and cucumber plants.
- Install Row Covers to Protect Cucurbit Crops
- Distract Cucumber Beetles with Trap Crops
- Natural Cucumber Beetle Control
- Protecting Plants with Kaolin Clay
- Does Neem Oil Kill Cucumber Beetles?
- Kill Corn Rootworms with Nematodes
- Cucumber Beetles Traps
- How to Get Rid of Cucumber Beetles with Homemade Insecticide
Cucumber Beetle Control
The feeding damage cucumber beetles cause may not stop an established plant from reaching maturity, but an infestation chewing on the leaves of new seedlings in the home garden can prevent the plant from taking in sunlight to grow. You will have to treat yellowing cucumber leaves quickly to keep the problem from taking over.
These pests threaten gardens at any stage of their life cycle as they lay eggs on the underside of leaves they feed on. Cucumber beetle larvae are called corn rootworms and tunnel into the soil around your plants, where the larvae feed on the roots.
Aside from feeding damage, cucumber beetles may carry overwintering bacteria, which may infect your plants with bacterial wilt or the mosaic virus through contact with your garden. These diseases on cucumber plants disrupt the flow of water inside the plant causing it to wilt and, in some cases, die.
Install Row Covers to Protect Cucurbit Crops
Floating row covers are among the most efficient ways to keep pests from damaging plants in your garden. These structures allow sunlight to reach your plants while protecting them from spotted and striped cucumber beetles.
The downside to using row covers with crops that do not self-pollinate is that pollinators like ladybugs and bees cannot visit the plants. For pollination to occur and for your plants to bear fruit, you’ll need to remove the covers for a few hours each day after the flowers bloom.
Monitor your crops for signs of striped or spotted cucumber beetles. Don a pair of yellow gloves and cover the fingers with petroleum jelly to handpick and kill any beetles you find.
Distract Cucumber Beetles with Trap Crops
One method of cucumber beetle control used for many years is companion plants that double as trap crops. Using trap crops takes care of getting rid of cucumber beetles naturally and doesn’t require much daily work.
Plant a few crops that cucumber beetles are more interested in than whatever crop you want to protect and allow it to act as a sacrifice. To take a more active role in reducing the beetle populations in your garden, use an insecticide on your trap crop to remove pests.
Blue Hubbard is a variety of squash plants that cucumber beetles enjoy feeding on and is often included in Cucurbit gardens to act as a beacon for harmful insects. Radishes are another crop that pests like to target to keep them away from more essential plants in your garden.
While not a trap crop, tansy is a companion plant that attracts beneficial insects like lacewings. Lacewings prey on common pests like aphids and cucumber beetles and do not harm your crops. Protect your plants by introducing prey insects to your garden through this form of natural and organic cucumber beetle control.
Natural Cucumber Beetle Control
Some of the best ways to get rid of pests in the garden are pesticides; however, many contain harmful chemicals alongside natural ingredients like pyrethrin.
To avoid introducing chemicals around your crops, make a homemade cucumber beetle spray with spinosad. Spinosad comes from soil bacteria that is toxic to insects and acts as a natural form of pest control. It’s a great way to get rid of zucchini bugs, cucumber beetles, aphids, and numerous other insects.
Combine the ingredients in a tank sprayer and spray the tops and bottoms of your plant’s leaves. Spray when the forecast is clear of rain for effective treatment. Spinosad doesn’t penetrate the cuticle layers of your plant’s leaves, so rainfall washes it away easily.
Protecting Plants with Kaolin Clay
Kaolin, a type of clay, is effective for pest control as it covers the plant in a clay mixture that deters insects from feeding on your plants. Apply the clay to your plants regularly until you’re ready to harvest them. After harvest, wash the clay off to make the crops safe to eat.
Mix your clay with water and dish soap and add it to a tank sprayer. Thoroughly coat your plants to create a white film over the leaves and crops.
Does Neem Oil Kill Cucumber Beetles?
When looking for natural options for cucumber beetle control, neem oil always proves effective in pest control. The foul-smelling oil comes from the pressed neem tree seeds and works by smothering insects. Neem oil will kill cucumber beetles and many other bugs without harming bees and butterflies that target the flowers.
After mixing the oil and water, thoroughly spray your plants and any visible insects you find. Because cucumber beetles like to lay eggs on the underside of leaves, check and spray both sides of the leaves.
Kill Corn Rootworms with Nematodes
If you find evidence of cucumber beetles feeding on your plants, you should assume they’ve already started to mate. Clear away any egg clusters you find on the underside of your Cucurbit leaves, but it may be too late to prevent larvae from feeding on your roots.
Nematodes are microscopic roundworms that naturally exist in the soil. These nematodes are available for purchase; you only have to add them to water to get started. Follow the package instructions and spread the mixture near your crops.
Once the nematodes contact other pests, they become infected with nematodes and slowly die. Treat your garden with beneficial nematodes to deal with the pests tunneling around your plants.
Cucumber Beetles Traps
One easy way to deal with a population of cucumber beetles is to place cucumber beetles traps around your garden. Commercial sticky traps are inexpensive and come equipped with enough sticky adhesive to trap dozens of insects before they need replacing.
Most beetle traps use bright yellow paper to draw insects in. This coloring mimics the color of yellow flowers that attracts these pests. Leave sticky traps among your crops and check them regularly.
How to Get Rid of Cucumber Beetles with Homemade Insecticide
If you can’t purchase any commercial items to help get rid of cucumber beetles, one of the simplest home remedies for cucumber beetles is making a soap spray. This spray is harmful to any insects you spray with it and helps keep future insects from targeting your plants.
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray the mixture over your plants. Target any visible insects to kill them on sight; however, be careful not to overspray as too much dish soap harms your plants.
Preventing Cucumber Beetles in the Garden
As the growing season for Cucurbits ends, you may start seeing fewer signs of cucumber beetle activity, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good because cucumber beetles overwinter in the garden.
After harvesting at the end of the season, go through your garden and clean up plant debris and mulch around your plants. Performing regular garden maintenance helps reduce the chance that you’ll deal with cucumber beetles the next growing season.
While cucumber beetles are not a fatal threat to your garden, an infestation may cause severe damage to young plants, and the threat of disease is the real problem.
An infection of bacterial wilt through your garden is serious, and it only takes one beetle carrying the bacteria to start the spread. Treat any signs of these pests seriously and implement one of our forms of control to deal with cucumber beetles.
If you learned how to get rid of cucumber beetles from our article, please share our pest control tips with your fellow gardeners and share the importance of cucumber beetles traps on Facebook and Pinterest.