The Q&A Archives: Organic Control For Cucumber Beetles

Question: I just about throw in the towel on ever growing cucumbers! My nice plants get killed by cucumber beetles year after year. I never get cukes. I have tried marigold, rotenone, radishes, moonflower, and lime to repel them all to no avail. Do you have any organic solutions? What varieties will resist this bug?

Answer: Cucumber beetles are truly a pest. As far as I know, there are cucumber varieties that are resistant to bacterial wilt, which the beetles transmit, but none resistent to the beetles themselves. Here are some suggestions: keep weeds in control early in the season, as the adults feed on pollen from weed seeds before cucumber plants emerge. Rotate your crops so that you there's at least a three-year interval between planting vine crops in the same location. Cover your plants with summer-weight fabric row covers in the summer to prevent beetles from reaching them. Most cucmbers need pollination by insects in order to bear fruit, so you'll need to pull back the cover when the plants blossom to allow bees in. Alternately, you can hand-pollinate the blossoms, or grow gynoecious cultivars that do not require pollination to set fruit. Better luck next year!

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