Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners

Cucumber Beatles

Melon, squash, and cucumber vines may be protected from the attacks of cucumber beetles until they are beginning to "vine" or "run," after which time there is less danger of their being injured or falling victims to the dreaded wilt disease. For these little pests not only destroy the vines themselves but carry infection from vine to vine. Once infected there is no hope for the vine. So the sane thing is to prevent the insects from reaching the vines while small. Infection after the vines have developed is not so serious as while they are small because the disease has less time in which to be destructive before the fruit forms. 

Cucumber beetles, both dotted and striped, are the worst pests of cucumbers and melons not only because they and their larvae devour the seedlings but because the adults carry wilt infection from diseased to healthy plants which usually die just before the fruits are ready to gather. Moth balls and tobacco dust are fair repellents and individual hill protectors are useful until the vines begin to "run," but destruction of the over-wintering adults is a great help. The best .way to destroy the adults is as follows: 

Six weeks before it is safe to sow these crops in the open, sow seed in coldframes or individual hill boxes placed near where the crops are to be grown. Protect the plants at night and in cold weather but leave them open to the sky during favorable weather. The beetles will begin to arrive as soon as the plants break through the soil and will lay their eggs on the young plants. In the late afternoon sneak up on the lee side or the shady side and suddenly close the  frame at the same time scattering a quantity of cyanogas proportioned to the cubic contents of the frame. These two operations must be almost simultaneous because the insects are exceedingly spry and  will take wing on sight or smell of a person. 

Keep the frame closed until the next morning. The poisonous gas given off by this chemical will kill the insects confined in the frame. Each morning when the weather is not too cold for the vines open the frame: to catch another lot of beetles. The more killed  before the outdoor season opens the fewer there will be to attack the crops. 

In early fall start another series of frame traps to catch the beetles after frost has killed the vines in the open ground. Thousands may thus be destroyed before winter sets in. 

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