Rabu, 22 Juni 2011

How my garden grows - We have met the enemy and he is . . . a bug

Cucumber beetles . . . harmless looking but devastating.  The larvae look like hairy horse snots, the juveniles are a longer yellow bug with racing stripes and the adults look like large rust colored ladybugs. They may look a bit like lady bugs but they are in no way beneficial to your garden . . . especially your cucumber and squash plants.     

I wrote about these evil critters when they appeared in my garden last year  . . . see this post and that post.  Yeah . . . they're back.  I am not going to allow them the pleasure of munching on my plants.  I will take whatever action necessary to eradicate these little buggers from my garden.

Spotted cucumber beetles do not overwinter in northern areas but migrate in from southern states each year, arriving around June.  Look for them every couple of days . . .  since cucumber beetles like shade, examine the undersides of cotyledons, young leaves, and stems.

The good news is that they have natural predators: Tachnid flies, soldier beetles, parasitic nematodes and braconid wasps. Lacewings and ladybugs eat the eggs.  And, bats.

Some effective cultural controls are spreading any type of onion skins on the soil around the planted areas and deep mulch of straw or other organic materials tohelp prevent the larvae from emerging from the soil and keep immature insects from walking from plant to plant.  

They don’t like radishes so, plant radish seeds right in the hills with the cucumber or squash plants. Also, any type of beans are a deterrent.

Since they like the shade, trick them!  Flatten a square of aluminum foil around the base of plants to bounce light on the undersides of leaves. This also helps the plants in giving them more light!

I am going to try my homemade insecticide against them; which is completely organic.  However, chemical insecticides are also effective against all stages of the cucumber beetle life cycle . . . but, obviously, not organic.

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