How to Kill Cucumber Beetles

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Cucumber beetles are often devastating to cucumber crops.
Cucumber beetles are often devastating to cucumber crops. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The cucumber beetle is a garden foe. Not only will it attack your cucumbers, but it will also wreak havoc on your squash, pumpkins and melons. The cucumber beetle likes to eat your cucumber’s leaves and lay eggs near the plants. Larvae will hatch from the eggs and eat the plants’ roots. Along with the destruction, cucumber beetles can also infect your crop with bacterial wilt. These garden pests typically show up in the spring and fall. They often blend into the crop which makes them difficult to detect. If these bugs are invading your garden, you’ll need to get them out before they take over.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Tweezers
  • Sealed containers
  • Row covers
  • Rocks or wood
  • Sticky traps
  • Insecticidal spray or soap

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Remove the beetles off of the plants with your gloved fingers or a pair of tweezers. Although this technique is fairly time-consuming, it is quite effective. Additionally, it is free and doesn’t force you to use chemicals to control the beetle issue. Place the beetles into sealed containers upon collection, then pour boiling water over them to dispose.

Place row covers over the plants. Row covers are essentially thin pieces of fabric that cover the plant, making it impossible for the beetle to make contact. Simply lay the cover over the crop and place rocks or pieces of wood on each side of the plant to keep the fabric in place. All of the beetles must first be removed from the plants before you implement the covers. You will also need to remove the covers when the plants begin to flower, or else it will negatively affect their pollination.

Lay sticky traps on the soil around the plants. Sticky traps will trap any bug that steps on them, as their adhesive will hold the bug in place. Sticky traps can be useful in capturing cucumber beetles when they come down to lay their eggs and collect the larvae once the eggs hatch. Throw the trap in the trash after it has trapped a few beetles.

Spray the affected crop with insecticide that is safe to use on vegetables. Both insecticidal sprays and soaps are effective in the elimination of cucumber beetles; however, there’s always a risk of contaminating your vegetables with their chemicals when they are used. Although most insecticides are applied directly to the plant, read the directions on the label for best results.

Tips & Warnings

  • Row covers, sticky traps and insecticides are typically available at gardening centers.
  • Keep your garden weed-free to help keep cucumber beetles away.

References

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