Last Updated on October 29, 2022 by Cinthia
If you have a farm or a garden, chances are you’ve probably faced a cucumber beetle already. They are, after all, some of the peskiest insects that you can find nibbling on your plants and are some of the most destructive ones as well.
If you want to know how to get rid of cucumber beetles organically as you’re not a fan of chemical-filled pesticides, there are, luckily, a lot of simple yet effective methods to do so, and some of them are provided below:
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First, let’s identify what cucumber beetles are. It’s not enough that you only base your conclusions from the nibbled and yellowing plants that you have. Of course, you also have to identify if the real culprits are really cucumber beetles.
You wouldn’t want to end up killing the beneficial insects, right? So, do know that cucumber beetles are real suckers for cucurbits like cucumbers, pumpkins, squashes, watermelons, and the like. These are often the plants that they eat, so if your pumpkin patch is thinning, chances are it’s the cucumber beetles’ doing.
Cucumber beetles are easy to spot. They are usually ¼ inch long and have yellow-and-black stripes and dark-colored antennae and head. There are also spotted cucumber plants, which have 12 dark spots instead of stripes.
Their larva looks like the typical worm, white but has a dark head and 3 pairs of legs located on the thorax region.
Ways to Get Rid of Them Organically
Because cucumber can drastically affect your plants’ growth, getting rid of them is necessary. However, as chemical-filled in pesticides are harmful, following organic ways to eliminate these pesky insects are much more ideal.
Adding a Companion Plants
Did you know that actually adding companion plants with your cucurbits is helpful? This is because some plants can actually repel the cucumber beetle. If you have a cucumber patch, flowers such as marigolds and nasturtiums and vegetables like corns and radishes can effectively repel cucumber beetles right away.
You can alternate these flowering plants and vegetables in between your cucurbit patches so that you’re sure that they’re well protected.
Taking Advantage of the Season
Note that seasons play a crucial role not just in taking care of your plants but also in getting rid of certain pests like the cucumber beetle. That’s why it’s important that you take note of their lifecycle so as to pick the ideal time to plant your cucurbits.
It’s been noted that seeds that are planted in during spring and fall do well compared to those were planted in the growing season. So, even this tiny detail can already go a long way when you want to let your cucurbits survive.
So, your cucumber seedlings are much more protected when you just transplant them outside once they become stronger.
Taking Care of Beneficial Insects
As mentioned above, you wouldn’t want to kill these beneficial insects; instead, you’d want to protect them as they can help eliminate cucumber beetles naturally. These are some beneficial insects that you shouldn’t kill:
braconid parasitoid wasps
Taking care of these beneficial insects will not only eliminate the cucumber beetles, but they’ll also get rid of other pests. Just be sure to know how to take care of each beneficial insects. In time, you’ll see that your garden will become healthier.
Another effective way to get rid of cucumber beetles is to use this yellow, sticky trap from Amazon. Make sure that you only hang yellow-colored traps as cucumber beetles are drawn to this color. However, there’s also a likelihood that you’ll get other beneficial insects, so it’s up to you if you’re going to use this trap, though you can always place these traps near your cucurbits where cucumber beetles are likely to be found.
If you don’t like the idea of these sticky traps, you can always handpick them. However, this would take time, and they’re really fast flyers, so you can opt to use a vacuum instead.
Installing Row Covers
The last organic method that you can do is to install row covers in your cucurbit patches. You can add this floating row cover from Amazon, especially on your young plants. You can use row covers until your plants start blossoming, giving them a head start and making them stronger to fight off any attacking cucumber beetles.
Additional Tips to Handle the Cucumber Beetle
The suggested organic ways above are simple yet effective in getting rid of cucumber beetles. To totally quicken the removal of these pesky insects, you can also follow these additional steps that are also organic and effective:
- Use Diatomaceous Earth – this non-toxic powder can be used as a pest control. You can try this Diatomaceous Earth from Amazon and sprinkle some on your cucurbit patches.
- Practice Mulching – when you mulch, you’ll make more living spaces for wolf spiders, which are beneficial insects that help kill cucumber beetles.
- Use Resistant Seeds – you can also use resistant cucurbits such as burpless cucumbers and the like as cucumber beetles don’t like the taste of them that much.
- Rotate Your Crops – lastly, you can also rotate your crops. In this way, once the larvae will hatch, they’ll have to take time transferring from the hatching ground to the cucurbits. Although they can still fly towards the cucurbits, crop rotation can certainly reduce the damage cucumber beetles give in general.
Are controlling cucumber beetles a challenge?
It can be hard, unfortunately. Cucumbers are in the same family as melons and pumpkins, and they are susceptible to the same diseases and pests. Cucumber beetles, when fed upon cucumbers, produce eggs that hatch into larvae that burrow into the fruit. These larvae eat through the fruit, leaving a hole, which is a sign of damage.
Cucumber beetles are a very annoying pest. They can destroy an entire crop of cucumbers and other cucurbit crops in a matter of days. In fact, they are the most destructive insect pest to cucurbits. Cucumber beetles can eat their way through all parts of the plant including the fruit. If you are growing cucumbers for food, you have to control the cucumber beetles.
Do they have natural predators?
The cucumber beetle is an invasive pest that is a major pest of cucumbers and other plants. It has been in the United States since the 1970s and has been spreading rapidly since then. The problem is, it has no natural predators here. Cucumber beetles eat both the leaves and the fruit. In the case of the fruit, they are bad for the plant as they will stop the plant from growing and may even kill it.
What organic spray kills cucumber beetles?
I would use an organic spray that has Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) in it, but check your label before applying. The label should state Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis. The spray will kill the adult beetles as well as larvae. If you cannot find one with Bt on it, try spraying with pyrethrin or neem oil.
You can also spray them with an organic spray that says it's a mix of neem and pyrethrin. It is an oil-based product.
What are other ways of killing cucumber beetles?
Organic sprays can kill cucumber beetles, but they are not the only way to control them. Other methods include hand picking, traps and traps with sticky surfaces.
Will garlic spray deter cucumber beetles?
Yes it will as the beetles have a pretty strong sense of smell and will stay away from garlic. You can also add in hot peppers to make it even more effective.
What else can I use to repel them?
There are a number of things that work to repel them. This includes neem oil, peppermint and radishes. You can make a mixture with neem oil to apply around your cucumbers. As for the latter two you can grow them around your cucumbers as deterrents. Radishes in particular are very highly recommended as they do work exceptionally well in keeping cucumber beetles at bay.
Now that you’re aware of some simple and effective organic ways to get rid of cucumber beetles, you’ll now have a healthy and brimming garden.
If you have any questions about the cucumber beetles or have more organic ways on how to get rid of them, comment below and share your ideas.
Remember, if you have this problem in your garden, simply do the following:
- Identify if you have a cucumber beetle infestation.
- Use one or all of the suggested organic ways to get rid of them provided above.
- Repeat when necessary until you can see no signs of cucumber beetles anymore.