Organic Insect Control
Once the season gets underway and the cucumber beetle population begins to grow, there are some things you can do to help keep
their numbers down. Organic insect Control for cucumber beetles includes growing other plants like Radishes, grow some cucumbers,
these beetles love them and prefer cucumber over gourds. You can use insecticides, but we recommend against using chemicals as they weaken
your plants, hinder the soil, and they will kill your pollinators and your good insects as well as the cucumber beetles, however you can grow
cucumbers near by and use insecticides on them as they have a different group of pollinators. Some people find hot sauce tonics mixed with
a little liquid detergent to make it stick will send Cucumber beetles on a search for more tasty sources of food. There is stick trap stuff
you can buy, and put up little signs in your garden, (if you can keep your gourds from climbing on them), use a piece of plywood on a post, about
1 foot square, paint it white with a big yellow dot, and cover the board with the sticky trap product. Cucumber beetles will be attracted
to it, and once they land on it in investigation, they will be trapped. You can also collect your gourd dust from sanding and cleaning,
including the innards and treat this with Sevin then place it around your garden in pie tins. If it rains this must be brought in as the
rain will break down the poison. Rotenone is also a tremendous insecticide, it is all natural, and once it gets into the ground it
biodegrades, but it is expensive. Within two weeks it breaks down to it's natural elements without damaging the soil. Again we would
recommend treating gourd dust with this as opposed to indiscriminate spraying.
As an alternative to insecicide, an Organic insect control and Garden friendly way to inhibit the natural activity of the
Cucumber Beetle is use of home made sprays. One such spray is this:
There are many useful formula’s to deter cucumber beetles from biting your plants, most consist of a dish soap and water
combination, with added ingredients like Garlic, hot pepper juices, mints, and other ingredients. There are many such formula’s that can be found
on the Internet and in organic gardening books. Once again, do not spray where these will repel your pollinators, and spray during the closed
flower period of the day. One such formula is:
2 tablespoons red pepper (Red pepper spice will do.)
6 drops dish soap
1 gallon water
Mix all ingredients, let sit overnight and stir to dissolve as much of the pepper as possible. Spray the mixture weekly to repel insect
pests. there are many recipes for this, this is just one that we've used. Do not use these sprays while the flowers are open as
you do not want to repel your night time moths.
Cucumber beetles will go through 4 stages of plant attack.
Stage 1: During the beginning of the season before your gourd vines start running, (vining), they will eat
the baby leaves, and even potentially eat the center of the vine between these leave, leaving the vine unable to grow any further. Using
garden tillers in the early spring will usually eliminate the stage one problem.
Stage 2: Your gourd vines have begun running and are looking healthy, then suddenly one vine begins to look
weak or diseased. Close inspection of the vine normally from 1-3 feet from where it comes out of the ground, you may find a rather large
hole in the vine exposing it's hollow center, and you may witness a population of cucumber beetles crawling in and out and around this
area. (There could also be a hole in this area due to the presence of a vine borer, that is another problem.) For this, Sevin or Rotenone
applied locally to that specific area can stop the damage long enough to allow the vines to begin producing flowers, then they won't bother this
Stage 3: Your vines are flowering, now your cucumber beetles have another favorite treat, the flowers.
If you have a bad infestation, you can go out in the morning to late morning after the flowers are closing up, and pick one off and open it
up. It is not uncommon to find 2-3 or more cucumber beetles inside these flowers, or you may notice flowers that the petals have holes
eaten in them. Cucumber beetles will be satisfied with flowers for a few weeks in most cases, and don't seem to attack healthy young gourds
until they have reached a near mature level.
Stage 4: at this stage, especially with an over-run population of cucumber beetles, you will begin to find
those stomach sickening holes and surface scars on your gourds created by cucumber beetles. While this is discouraging, it is part of
nature, and our experience has shown us that you will still have a lot of gourds that won't be bothered. Different types of gourds seem to
hold more attraction to the beetles than others do, so growing a variety will help to reduce damage to some varieties. Before we learned
how to control the Cucumber population, we had one season we were so over run with them, we didn't think we would have any gourds or vines at the
end of the season. We had one gourd that had a hole in it about a half inch in diameter, and cucumber beetles were crawling in and out of
the hole like ants at an ant hill. Yet we gathered about 1500 good gourds from our 1/3 acre plot that year, most of which were unmarred by
the actions of the cucumber beetles.
In summary, using organic insect control, do the following - 1) Till the soil both Fall and Spring. 2) Plant radishes
early among your gourd vines. 3) find a plot or section of yard away from the gourds and grow cucumbers, use insecticides on them. 4) Put up a
few sticky signs, and before you spread the sticky stuff on it, write "Welcome" on it while maintaining a devilish grin on your face. :-) 5)use a
homemade insect repellent on your gourd vines.
Keep your garden healthy by insect control as opposed to total annihilation.