The Q&A Archives: Mexican Bean Beetles

Question: I am an Organic Gardener and I try not to use any "store bought" pesticides. I am trying to find a natural or organic insecticide for Mexican Bean Beetles. In my part of Ohio, it is almost impossible to grow green beans without experiencing a lot of damage by these beetles. The only thing I have been able to control them with is Malathion, and I really don't want to use that with the idea that I want to maintain my gardening in a organic state. Is there an organic or natural insecticide that would equal the effectiveness of Malathion and other insecticides?

Answer: Mexican Bean Beetles can be formidable foes. There are from one to three generations per year, so destroying egg clusters during the growing season will help reduce subsequent populations. Organic solutions include interplanting beans with potatoes (which repel the beetles), or planting nasturtiums, garlic, marigolds or rosemary along with your beans. Be sure to clean up bean debris right after harvest so adults won't have a place to hide. Plant beans early to avoid attack, and try growing a variety of plants to attract predacious wasps and Assassin bugs, who dine on Mexican Bean Beetles. As a last resort, use rotenone or pyrethrum to wipe out a serious infestation.

Hope next year's crop of beans is bountiful!

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