As any good farmer knows, a successful harvest is dependent on knowing the enemies of your crops. One such formidable pest is the cucumber beetle.
They are a killer of cucurbits (melons, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, etc.), among other plants such as corn.
Cucumber beetles not only chew on leaves, which wouldn’t be so bad, but also transmit bacterial wilt, which kills .
Know not only the signs of an infestation but also how to best naturally get rid of this pest from your plants.
The full lifecycle is four to eight weeks, and they can overwinter in places like compost and trash heaps and emerge in warming spring climates.
A female striped cucumber beetle can lay up to 1500 eggs, and a spotted cucumber beetle can lay 200 to 300 .
As soon as they hatch, they begin lunching on the leaves of the plants, and within two weeks of starting to feed, the beetles will evolve into pupae.
Obviously, this can become a significant infestation quickly if not resolved and monitored closely in your garden.
The signs of cucumber beetle damage in your garden are apparent first in the scarring of leaves and plants. Cucumbers, squash, and melons are, by far, their favorites.
Still, if the population is too large or their favorite crops are not available, they can attack tomatoes, corn, and other crops.
As they eat, bacteria from their stomachs spread on the plants, and soon wilting and death of the plants occur.
Striped Cucumber Beetle vs. Spotted Cucumber Beetle
One of the main differences between the two types of cucumber beetles, also called corn rootworm beetles, is that the striped one sticks to cucumbers, squash, and the like. In contrast, the spotted cucumber beetle will migrate to other plants.
The striped version features long black stripes on a yellow body, and the spotted version features the same coloring but with spots.
Both feed mostly on the roots and stems of plants, while the spotted is also known for attacking the fruit.
How to Get Rid of Cucumber Beetles Naturally
Below are some of the best organic control methods and home remedies for cucumber beetles!
1. Diatomaceous Earth
Much like Sevin dust, this non-toxic powder is a tremendous organic beetle control remedy.
When spread around young plants, diatomaceous earth will kill existing cucumber beetles. It will also prevent the hatching of new ones, getting rid of them for good.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural and safe compound for use in organic gardening. However, when applying, be sure to wear a mask so the dust doesn’t get into your nostrils.
You can also make a homemade cucumber beetle spray by mixing half a cup of food-grade DE with a gallon of water. Spray the plants where the problem is.
2. Beneficial Insects
Ladybugs are one of the best natural predators of harmful garden insects. They will eat the beetle’s eggs and immediately start diminishing the chance of an outbreak.
If you purchase ladybugs, put the bag in a cool place (a refrigerator) and release them early in the morning or late in the evening. Doing this helps them live longer.
Approximately 2,000 ladybugs are the recommended amount for a small home garden. You can purchase them at many organic nurseries for just this purpose, along with some other helpful insects for your garden.
Other cucumber beetle predators include lacewings, the tachinid fly, soldier beetles, braconid wasps, and ground beetles.
3. Till the Ground
One early prevention for the critters is tilling up the ground in late fall. This can help eradicate any cucumber beetle larvae in the soil.
Also, in spring, just before planting, tilling will ensure any larvae that survived fall tilling are exposed to predators.
4. Yellow Sticky Trap
The yellow sticky trap is a great method to catch cucumber beetles because they are attracted to the color yellow. As soon as you see a sign of this pest, get your sticky tape ready and border your garden.
Sticky traps also act as a great monitoring tool for the overall health of your garden, catching all sorts of bad insects. Lures will help draw in these pests, and the sticky traps will hold them for disposal.
5. Use Transplants
Transplanting mature cucumber plants versus planting seeds can help deter these yellow and black-striped bugs. Early sprouts are also more susceptible to bacterial wilt than bigger plants.
Furthermore, transplanting serves to ensure you get them in the ground after the last frost of the season.
6. Shake Them Off
Another method of dealing with cucumber bugs is the knock-and-drag method.
Place cardboard under the plant that you have seen containing beetles. Once the cardboard is in place, shake the plant lightly to displace the beetles and drag the cardboard out.
Next, place the critters into a sealable bag and dispose of the bag. Replace the cardboard and do this again. You can also drop the pests in a bucket of soapy water to smother and kill them.
7. Plant Late
By planting your cucumber plants later in the season, other gardens will attract these pests, leaving your crops, hopefully, undamaged.
Straw mulch applied around plants is another simple solution to controlling beetles naturally.
An added benefit of this natural deterrent is that wolf spiders love straw and may nest there. When the beetles attempt to make it through the straw, the spiders will consume them, creating a line of defense for your plants.
Add a one-inch layer of straw mulch a few inches back from the plants, keeping it away from the stems and leaves.
Handpicking is a tedious task, but with care, vacuuming these pests off of your plants may be easier. However, ensure you empty the vacuum into a sealable bag for disposal.
10. Lime and Wood Ash
Using mixtures of wood ash and powdered hydrated lime is an excellent natural deterrent for cucumber beetles.
Add 1 ounce each of ash and lime to one gallon of water and mix. This dissolved solution can then be mobilized in spray bottles and applied to the impacted plants.
11. Neem Oil
This oil from the seeds of the neem tree has been proven to be an excellent natural insecticide.
To use neem oil for cucumber beetles, combine 2 ml of organic liquid soap with 5 ml of neem oil and a liter of water. Shake well and spray the affected plants.
Neem oil repels many insects and prevents some fungal plant concerns. Additionally, it helps to stop some viruses and other diseases that can kill plants.
12. Hot Pepper and Garlic
This is a great home remedy to protect cucumbers from pests. Are you ready to mix up a spicy repellent for those critters?
Combine six cloves of crushed garlic, a tablespoon of dried hot pepper, and a tablespoon of organic liquid soap with a gallon of hot water.
Let the mixture sit for at least a day. Finally, strain it and put it in a spray bottle for application.
The unpleasant smell and taste of the solution will clear out the beetles.
13. Remove Eggs
Cucumber beetle eggs are easy to spot on your garden plants; however, removing them is crucial.
Picking or cutting egg clusters from the leaves will ensure they don’t hatch and further the infestation. Also, remember to look under the leaves, inspect the stalk of the plant, and remove any visible eggs.
14. DIY Trap
Make a DIY cucumber beetle trap using a yellow plastic cup, clove oil, and a sticky substance such as non-drying glue.
First, glue a piece of cotton to the bottom of the cup. Next, add a few drops of clove oil to the cotton.
Plant a wood post in the ground and fasten the cup horizontally to it. Afterward, paint the cup (inside and out) with the sticky substance.
The yellow cup will attract the pests, and the clove oil will lure them in, where they’ll get stuck to the glue.
15. Insecticidal Soap
Purchase a ready-to-use insecticidal soap, such as Bonide, that is approved for organic gardening. Following the package instructions, use it to spray the critters.
Alternatively, make your own mixture by combining 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil with a gallon of water. Insecticidal soap will kill cucumber beetles and other insect pests on contact.
16. Companion Planting
Another great method for getting rid of cucumber beetles organically is companion planting.
Corn, onions, or broccoli planted alongside or in between rows of cucumbers have been shown to keep away these pests.
Other plants that repel cucumber beetles include nasturtiums, tansy, marigolds, catnip, and radishes.
17. Row Covers
The first line of defense is covering your plants with row covers or other barriers to keep these pests out.
Row covers act as mini-greenhouses, allowing light and water to seep in for the benefit of the plants while keeping pests at bay.
Secure the edges to prevent these pests from gaining access to the plants inside. However, once flowers begin to appear, remove the covers for the best cross-pollination results.
18. Trap Crops
This method is exactly as it sounds: planting for the sake of tricking garden pests. By drawing pests to trap crops, you will spare your principal crops.
A good trap crop for cucumber beetles is blue hubbard squash. It also attracts squash bugs and other cucumber pests.
The blue hubbard squash planted at the garden corners can help isolate the beetles from your cash crop.
19. Crop Rotation
No matter how much prep work, tilling, and the like you do, some larvae may hatch.
One of the best ideas for prevention is to rotate where you plant cucumbers, squash, and other cucurbits in the coming season.
Because these yellow beetle bugs overwinter in the soil, crop rotation can prevent larval damage. This is for the reason that they won’t readily access their favorite plants when hatched.
A strong vinegar spray can kill these beetles; however, it may also kill your plants. Therefore, it’s best not to use it directly on plants.
Only use vinegar to spray cucumber beetles if they are not on your plants.
21. Baking Soda
You can also use baking soda spray on your cucumber plants as a natural treatment for cucumber beetles.
For the recipe, mix together one tablespoon of baking soda with a little dish soap in a gallon of water. Shake well and use it to coat your plants once a week.
This baking soda solution helps to control these pests while also keeping powdery mildew at bay.
22. Kaolin Clay
Mixing 3 cups of Surround WP Kaolin Clay with 1 gallon of water provides a sprayable solution.
This substance forms a white barrier surface on your plants that the beetles do not like, preventing them from feeding and laying their eggs.
Moreover, kaolin clay is safe to use on plants in your garden. However, you should always cleanse your produce thoroughly before eating.
Monterey Spinosad Insect Spray is a great natural pesticide to kill cucumber beetle larvae and many other pests of vegetable crops.
The treatment works on the nervous systems of pests. It causes them to remain on plants, looking active, when they actually cannot move.
This multi-purpose natural repellent is also versatile. Therefore, you can use it for your entire garden rather than just cucurbit patches.
Another great insecticide for cucumber beetle control, this product contains a very potent compound derived from the neem tree.
It serves to prevent the eating of vegetation by insects and also acts as a repellent. Spray or apply directly to the soil.
Once absorbed, the pests will digest and slowly die off. This product also has properties that inhibit the future hatching of eggs.
Purchase Molt-X online or possibly at your local gardening store.
25. Beauveria bassiana
This is a naturally occurring fungus that you can use on many beetles and soft-bodied pests in the garden. It will appear whitish at first when applied and stick to the pests’ bodies, killing them 7 to 14 days later.
BioCeres WP Beauveria bassiana can be purchased at various retailers for use alone or with other processes for ideal results.
See also: how to get rid of Japanese beetles naturally.
These beetles may look unassuming with their yellow and black bodies, but do not be fooled. Like squash bugs, these little pests like to munch on the stems, roots, and fruits of cucumbers, squash, melons, and other cucurbits.
Even if those are not crops you have in your garden, remember that the spotted beetle is not picky.
As soon as signs of stem and root damage appear, bacterial wilt from the insects is sure to follow. Therefore, be prepared and have a plan to help eradicate these pests naturally.
Hopefully, this fantastic list of natural pest deterrents to employ in your garden will pay off in your battle against yellow cucumber bugs.