Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Nuke the cuke beetles
Name: Striped cucumber beetle
Occupation: Feeding on the flowers, leaves and fruit of curcurbits (cucumbers, melons, summer squash). These are tiny, active beetles with voracious appetites for tender precious summer produce. Beyond their insatiable appetites for ruining our dinner, these dirty insect vermin spread a nasty disease called bacterial wilt.
Prevention/Management: For organic or conscientious growers, Pyganic is a somewhat effective insecticide I have mentioned before. The farmer I work for swears by this "knock down" spray (meaning it kills the buggers on contact). It is derived from chrysanthemums and is non-toxic to humans. However, as is the case with many pesticides, insects may become resistant to the effects of the spray over time.
Pictured are the very carefully tended and trellised greenhouse cucumbers on the farm. Keeping plants off the ground helps prevent disease and makes it easier to squish the beetles.
Color they turn your fingers when you squish them: Yellowish, when they are full of eggs. One of the more enjoyable beetles to smash because of their small size and colorful entrails. Also, spotted cucumber beetle larvae can damage plant roots, which adds to the satisfaction of taking their lives.
Good beetle or bad beetle: What do you think?