There are two types of cucumber beet belonging to the Diabrotica family. The striped or spotted cucumber beetle varieties are both considered harmful garden pests, and can do extensive damage not only to cucumber plants, but to many other vegetables and ornamental plants. They are yellow-green or orange in color with either black stripes or spots and are quite small – only 1/4 inch (6.4 mm) long. Cucumber beetles damage vegetation in the larvae stage by eating small, tender young plants as they emerge from the soil, and by digging into the ground and feeding on the roots. Adults eat flowers, leaves and stems of larger plants.
Although cucumbers are their preferred food, there are well over 200 different plants that these pests will eat. Other cucurbits like squash and melons are especially prone to damage from these beetles and larvae. Plants that have yellow flowers, including beans and tomato plants, which are most attractive to them. Eggplants, asparagus, cabbage and peas are frequently visited by these bugs as well.
The striped cucumber often overwinter in winters in northern climates and begins to attack plants in early spring when temperatures reach about 65 ° Fahrenheit (18 ° C). Spotted cucumber beetle is found all year in southern areas, but migrates north in early summer to do its damage. In the south, it also appears several weeks after the striped variety. Cucumber beetles often spend the winters in corn and compost piles, where they can spread bacterial wilt and mosaic diseases that live through cold winters in the gut. These diseases then spread to next season’s crops.
Cucumber beetles can be controlled by growing plants that repel them, including radishes, calendula, marigolds and catnip. These can help keep cucumber beetles from harming other nearby plants. These beetles also have many natural predators such as nematodes, soldier beetles, and braconid wasps. The ladybugs are also beneficial because they eat beetle eggs. These insects can be bought and introduced to an area with cucumber beetles.
There are many other ways to counter cucumber beetles without the use of harmful chemicals. Some gardeners and farmers scattered onion skins or three ashes on the ground near their plant. A spray that contains chili peppers and garlic can also help deter those beetles. It may be necessary to use chemicals such as rotenone or pyrethrum for serious infections, although they cannot be used on sensitive cucurbit plants.
- Cucumber beetles often attack asparagus.
- Marys eat cucumber beetle eggs.
- Growing marigolds can help keep cucumber beetles from harming other nearby plants.
- A cucumber.
- Peas are often attacked by cucumber beetles.