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 .
Not only know the signs of an infestation but how to best naturally get rid of this pest from off 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.
The female striped cucumber beetles can lay up to 1500 eggs, and the spotted cucumber beetle 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, squashes, and melons are, by far, their favorite victims.
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 striped sticks to cucumbers, squash, and the like. In contrast, spotted will migrate to other plants.
The striped features long black stripes on a yellow body, and the spotted feature the same coloring but with spots.
Both feed mostly on the roots and stems of plants, while the spotted also is 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 compound is natural and safe for use in organic gardening. It is derived from fossilized shells of tiny aquatic organisms known as diatoms.
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 in a gallon of water. Spray on 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 ability of an outbreak.
If you purchase them, you do want to ensure you cool them in a refrigerator and release them in the evening. These two steps help slow the ladybugs and ensure they remain in your designated area of need.
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 other helpful insects for your garden.
Other cucumber beetle predators include lacewings, tachinid fly, the spined soldier bug, braconid parasitoid wasp, 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 from overwintering or preparing for such a state.
Also, in spring, just before planting, tilling will ensure any larvae that survived fall tilling are eradicated.
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.
It also acts as a great monitoring tool for the overall health of your garden, catching all sorts of bad insects.
Obviously, if it becomes readily loaded down with insects upon placement, you might need to formulate a better control plan.
5. Use Transplants
Transplanting mature cucumber plants, versus planting seeds can help deter these yellow and black striped bugs.
Early sprouts are much more susceptible to being permanently damaged by beetles than mature transplants. This inside planting also serves to ensure you get them in the ground after the last frost of the season.
Remember, these are delicate vegetables that won’t tolerate even the lightest of cold.
6. Shake Them Off
Another hand method of dealing with cucumber bugs is the knock and drag method.
Place cardboard around 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 them in a bucket of soapy water to smother and kill them.
7. Plant Late
If you live in cold regions, by planting cucurbits families of vegetables later in the season, other gardens will attract these pests, leaving your next crops, hopefully undamaged.
After June 15th, it is recommended to plant, as overwintered pests should have dispersed by then.
For those seeking an all-round solution to control beetles naturally, straw mulch applied around plants helps deter all types of beetles.
Another added benefit of this natural deterrent is that wolf spiders love straw and will nest.
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 this mulch a few inches back from the plants – never directly on top of the seedlings or plants, for best results.
Yep, you read that correctly. Handpicking, mentioned above, is a tedious task, but with care, vacuuming these pests off of your plants is possible.
Ensure you empty the vacuum into a seal about the bag for disposal.
It is essential to not just clean what is immediately visible but check under the plants and around the root system.
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, serving as a hormone disruptor to affected pests.
To use neem oil for cucumber beetles, combine 5ml of the oil with 2ml of organic liquid soap in a liter of water. Shake well and spray on affected 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 treat for those critters?
Mix 6 cloves of crushed garlic, a tablespoon of hot pepper (dried), and a tablespoon of organic liquid soap.
Put this organic mixture in a gallon of hot water and let it sit for at least a day. Strain and put into a spray bottle for application.
The smell will clear out the beetles with the decidedly unpleasant odor and tastes that are sure to be staunch.
13. Remove Eggs
Cucumber beetle eggs are easy to spot on your garden plants; however, removing them is crucial.
Picking or cutting the clusters from the leaves they are on will ensure they don’t hatch and further the infestation.
Remember to look under leaves and dawn the stalk of the plant and remove everything possible.
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 the cotton swab at the bottom of the cup. Next, add a few drops of clove oil to the cotton swab.
You’ll then plant a wood post into the ground and fasten the cup horizontally on 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 in a gallon of water. Insecticidal soap will kill cucumber beetles and other insect pests on contact.
16. Companion Planting
Another great way of getting rid of the critters organically is by planting different crops together in close proximity.
Corn, onions, or broccoli planted interspersed or in between rows of cucumbers have been shown to keep away this pest.
Additional plants that repel cucumber beetles or attract their enemies include clover, nasturtiums, marigolds, tansy, buckwheat, and radishes.
17. Row Covers
The first line of defense is cones, floating row covers, and other barriers to these pests.
These barriers act as mini-greenhouses, allowing the benefits of soil, light, and water to seep into the plants while keeping pests at bay.
Cover the edges with dirt to prevent these crafty critters from gaining access to the plants inside. However, once flowers begin to appear, you need to remove these covers for the best cross-pollination results.
18. Trap Crops
This type of planting is precisely how it sounds, planting for the sake of tricking garden pests. By drawing pests to these plants, you will spare your principal crops.
A good trap crop for cucumber beetle is blue hubbard squash. It also attracts squash bugs and several varieties of cucumber pests.
A perimeter of it around your main crops can help isolate them from the beetles that wish to feed upon them.
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 the rotation of where you plant cucumbers, squash, and other cucurbits in the coming season.
Because these yellow beetle bugs overwinter in the soil, crop rotation will prevent larvae damage. This is for the reason that they won’t readily access their favorite plants when hatched.
20. Kaolin Clay
Mixing 3 cups of Surround WP Kaolin Clay to one 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.
Kaolin clay is safe to use on plants in your garden, but as always, remember to cleanse your produce thoroughly before eating.
This spray works on the nervous system of pests. It causes them to remain on plants looking active when they actually cannot move.
This multi-purpose natural repellent is heavy-lifting for many of your garden varieties. Thus, you can use this treatment for your entire garden versus 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 acts as a repellent. Spray or apply directly into the soil.
Once absorbed, the pests will digest and slowly die off. This product also has properties that inhibit future hatching of eggs, and best of all leaves no residues on the plants in your garden.
Molt-X can be purchased at numerous places online or at local gardening stores.
23. Beauveria bassiana
This is a naturally occurring fungus that you can use on many beetles and soft-bodied pests in your garden. It will appear whitish at first when applied and stick to the insect’s bodies, killing them days later.
This is generally used after a significant infiltration of the garden has occurred as it works on mature pests. The full effect of this product will be up to fourteen days.
BioCeres WP beauveria bassiana can be purchased at several vital 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 stems, roots, and the fruit of cucumber, squash, melons, and other cucurbits.
Even if those are not crops you have in your garden, remember 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. Be prepared and have a plan to naturally help defend and eradicate to the best of your ability these pests.
There will be no time to waste, and you must be decisive while still protecting yourself and the rest of the garden you have planted for harvest.
Hopefully, this fantastic list of natural pest deterrents to employ in your garden will show rewards in your battle against yellow cucumber bugs.