Cucumber beetles can be a pesky nuisance in the garden, ruining many different types of plants, including cucumbers, melons, squash, corn and pumpkins. Here are some tips for permanently avoiding a cucumber beetle garden.
Get a Head Start
It’s very important to start your plants out with insecticide treatments from the very beginning. Look for organic insecticides, because they are safer and less harsh. One easy way to repel cucumber beetles is to mix 1 cup of wood ash with 1 cup of lime juice and 2 gallons of water, and spray the mixture onto plant leaves.
Additionally, the earlier you are able to plant seedlings in the garden, the better. Beetles like to consume seedlings, so giving your plants as much growing time as possible will help protect them when beetles arrive in the summer.
Spotting Cucumber Beetles
Cucumber beetle eggs appear as yellow or orange tinted ovals, while the larvae are between ¼ and ½ inches long and are beige or white with a brown head. The beetles have black heads and green or yellow bodies.
Conduct a Morning Beetle Check
Cucumber beetles tend to feast on your plants in the morning, so observe your plants early in the day and remove any cucumber beetles you see. For best results, search your plants at least 2 times per week. Cucumber beetles enjoy the shade, so be sure to turn over leaves to inspect for hidden pests. Pay special attention to any plants that are small and have fewer than 5 leaves.
Keep Your Garden Area Clean
Cucumber beetles may live and thrive in piles of weeds, old vines, or dead leaves and plants near your garden. Make sure the garden area is clean and clear of anything that might encourage cucumber beetles to stay nearby. Continue to clear the garden and surrounding area of dead plants and debris in the fall so the beetles will not winter in these areas and return the next season.
Transparent garden plant covers are available from stores, and these can help cucumbers receive sunlight while keeping the beetles away. Cheesecloth can also serve the same purpose.
Cucumber beetles do not like marigolds, geraniums, nasturtiums, castor beans or radishes. Growing these three plants among your cucumbers will drive away beetles.
Bats enjoy feasting on cucumber beetles, so some gardeners make efforts to keep bats near their property. Bat houses are an excellent way to attract bats and cut down on the cucumber beetle population. Ladybugs also eat the cucumber beetle's eggs. Ladybugs and cucumber beetles can look similar at first glance, so it is important to know the difference. Besides keeping natural predators in their area, some people purchase nematodes and place them in their gardens, because these parasites will consume cucumber beetles.