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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Squash and Zucchini: Controlling the Boring Beetles: Cucumber Beetle

Every year my yellow squash and green zucchini grow wonderfully. I get a decent yield then the boring beetles strike. Always! Always! Always! Like clockwork, they strike and kill the plants. Last year I found an effective way to keep them at bay.

The culprit is the boring cucumber beetle. It is easy to find and identify. It looks like a beetle with yellow and black stripes. That is the typical type in Maryland. Now, it can also be a beetle with spots. They are always colorful beetles. No matter what kind it is, you can find them. Look on your plants regularly. Look for boring holes in the base of you squash and zucchini. And for that matter your cucumbers and melons and related. These beetles tend to go for the base of your plant right at ground level or close to that.

Your plants will look great one day and then leaves will begin to droop like they are low on water. It's the beetles. I found I could kill them with insecticide. If you want to go green 100% sorry. I use Sevin in powder/dust form to treat my plants and garden. I don't go on dusting overkill. That's too much.

The key to kill them is to preemptively powder the first 8 to 12 inches of stem and the surrounding ground around the stem. Keep the dust away from the flowers as to not kill the bees and inhibit pollination. I would start this June 1st in our area. Kill them before they bore. Cover the ground around the stem about the width of a plate. The Sevin is on the ground and base of the plant. That is where the beetle walks. That is where the beetle will die. I use this method as to not cover the whole plant and vegetables with the dust. It will even work if you find a hole in the stem. That means the beetle has already dug in. Drop some dust right in the hole the beetle bored.