How to protect cucumbers from aphids, methods of dealing with garden pests

Undoubtedly, aphid is considered one of the most harmful and common pests. Many of its species can be found in the open garden and garden plots. Especially aphids like planting cucumbers and melons. Often there is aphid on cucumbers in the greenhouse, despite the measures of protection. In order to get rid of insects, you need to know how to destroy aphids without harm to plants.

Aphid: description of the pest

Aphids belong to the order of even-winged and has more than 35,000 species. Insects live in huge colonies and feed on the sap of all soda crops and houseplants. They carry viruses and diseases, which can lead to a massive destruction of cultivated plants and their death.

Did you know? Aphids are very afraid of frosts and winters on various wild and weedy plants, under the rosettes of basal leaves of winter weeds, as well as in greenhouses.

What is dangerous for aphids cucumbers

Aphids are located on the underside of leaves, stems and flower buds. Known to aphid as a pest of cucumber seedlings, who lives on the tops of young shoots. The insect feeds on plant sap that contains amino acids and carbohydrates. All this leads to depletion of the plant and its death. Therefore, if you notice that cucumber leaves began to curl and turn yellow, the plant slowed down in growth, carefully examine it for the presence of aphids.

Preventive measures, how to protect cucumbers from aphids

Protection of cucumbers from aphids should be carried out throughout the summer, as the insect moves easily from one site to another. To combat aphids was effective, preventive measures should be taken:

  • timely remove fallen leaves and plant debris on the plots in order to prevent the possibility of wintering;
  • spray planting cucumbers with infusions of plants that the aphids do not like — celandine, wormwood, onions, tops of tomatoes and potatoes;
  • for prevention, you can use the infusion of wood ash with the addition of liquid soap.

You should also inspect the young shoots, leaves and flowers of plants for the presence of pests. This will help start the fight in the early stages of the appearance of harmful insects.

How to deal with aphids on cucumbers

One of the most important issues for gardeners and gardeners is how to destroy aphids.

What means to use: folk remedies for aphids, mechanical or chemical?

Mechanical way

The mechanical method is cleaning aphids on cucumbers manually or with water. This method will help in a small area and for a short period of time, as the remaining aphid will quickly spread with a new force.

Important! If you decide to fight with aphids mechanically, make sure that it is not in the neighboring areas, from which it can easily fly to the vacated space.

How to deal with aphids by chemical methods

Many gardeners choose a chemical agent for aphids on cucumbers:

  • the use of complexes like «Aktofit» or «Bitoxibacillin»;
  • insecticide treatment: «Confidor», «Aktara»;
  • use chemical solutions «Aktellik», «Karate», «Fury», etc. They are adsorbed by the root system and introduced by drip irrigation.

Important! Many gardeners are wondering if spread aphid in the greenhouse, how to get rid of it? When the defeat of aphids is not large-scale, it is best to apply a solution of soap (on 2 cups of water — 2 teaspoons of grated soap). If the plants are severely affected — you should use chemicals for the treatment of aphids.

Aphids on cucumbers: how to fight folk remedies

Folk remedies for aphids will help with a slight spread:

  • infusion of tobacco and soap;
  • phyto-infusions (celandine, wormwood, etc.);
  • leaves infused in water;
  • garlic infusion (garlic head, liquid soap and vegetable oil).

Important! When processing solutions should be sprayed plants carefully and always under the leaves, as folk remedies have only a local effect, unlike chemical ones.

Folk remedies can help with a small defeat of plants in small areas. If you use infusions based on soap or plants, carry out a thorough treatment several times in a row, before the complete destruction of the pest.

Helpers in the garden: what insects will help get rid of aphids on cucumbers

Ladybug is a predator insect that eats aphids. If you can bring them to your site, they will help you get rid of the annoying pest. Ladybugs are very fond of dill and leaf mustard. So you should take care that these plants are on your site. You can also collect cows in the field and bring in the garden.

To effectively deal with aphids on cucumbers It is worth applying an integrated approach. You can use both chemicals and the fight against aphids by folk methods, which will help get rid of the pest as soon as possible. Also do not forget about preventive measures.


Cucumber Beetles

ENTFACT-311: Cucumber Beetles | Download PDF

Ric Bessin, Extension Specialist
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Striped and spotted cucumber beetles can cause serious losses in cucumbers, muskmelons, and watermelons in Kentucky. Cucumber beetles are a major concern to muskmelon and cucumber growers because they vector the bacteria that causes a disease, bacterial wilt of cucurbits.

While the adults feed mainly on foliage, pollen and flowers, their feeding on melon rinds late in the season may reduce market quality. Larvae of these insects feed on roots and stems, but this damage is minimal compared to the potential losses due to bacterial wilt.

Figure 1. Striped cucumber beetles are yellow-green with three black stripes down the back and are 1/4 inch long.

Although similar in appearance, the striped cucumber beetle and the western corn rootworm are not the same. The stripes on the striped cucumber beetle are straighter than those on the western corn rootworm. Additionally, the middle segment (tibia) of the hind leg on the striped cucumber beetle is yellow, while that on the western corn rootworm is black.

See also:  Onion Thrips

The spotted cucumber beetle (also known as the southern corn rootworm), also 1/4 inch long, is yellow-green with 12 black spots on its back.

Figure 2. Spotted cucumber beetle (left) is larger on average than striped cucumber beetle (right).


Cucumber beetles overwinter as adults in protected areas near buildings, in fence rows, or in wood lots. They become active in mid-spring, when temperatures begin to increase. Currently, there is no good method for predicting when activity will begin. Beetles quickly locate host plants in the spring. The adults feed and females deposit eggs in cracks in the soil at the base of cucurbits. The eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the roots. These larvae will pupate in the soil, later in the summer the next generation of beetles will emerge. These beetles will also feed on the cucumber and melon plants, including the fruit and overwinter until the next spring.

Bacterial Wilt

The bacterium that causes bacterial wilt overwinters in the gut of some of the striped cucumber beetles. When beetles become active in the spring and begin feeding, they spread the bacterium either through their feces or from contaminated mouthparts. Chewing damage on young leaves or cotyledons open entry points for the pathogen. Once inside the plant, the bacterium multiplies quickly in the vascular system, producing blockages that cause the leaves to wilt. Beetles are attracted to infected plants and can pick up the bacterium and move it to healthy plants.

The first symptom of bacterial wilt on cucumber and muskmelon is a distinct flagging of lateral and individual leaves. Beetle feeding is not always obvious on wilted leaves. Soon, adjacent leaves and finally the entire vine will wilt. The wilting spreads as the multiplying bacteria move within the vascular system of the plant. Eventually, the entire plant wilts and dies.

There is nothing you can do to save an infected plant. The only way to avoid bacterial wilt is to prevent the beetles from feeding on the plant. Fruit produced on a wilting plant usually will not be marketable.

One way to determine if bacterial wilt has infected a plant is to cut the stem and squeeze both cut ends. A sticky sap will ooze from the water conducting tissues of the stem. If you push the cut ends of the stem together and slowly pull them apart, you will be able to see a roping effect if bacteria are present. This sap contains millions of bacteria.


Begin cucumber beetle control as soon as seedlings emerge. Early treatment is essential for beetle management in large commercial muskmelon or cucumber operations. A single post-transplant soil drench with Admire or Platinum can provide near season-long control. Repeated applications of contact insecticides are necessary to protect muskmelon plants from beetle feeding and transmission of bacterial wilt. There is usually be peak in beetle activity each spring that lasts two to four weeks. This is the most important time to control the beetles. Applications of foliar insecticides may be required twice per week during peak beetle activity. Because watermelon is not susceptible to the wilt disease, protection is necessary only when plants are small and beetle populations are high.

For the home gardener, plants can be protected when they are small by mechanical means. Row covers, screens or cones over small plants are effective means of excluding cucumber beetles in home plantings.

CAUTION! Pesticide recommendations in this publication are registered for use in Kentucky, USA ONLY! The use of some products may not be legal in your state or country. Please check with your local county agent or regulatory official before using any pesticide mentioned in this publication.



Organic Cucumber Beetle Control

This article is part of our Organic Pest Control Series, which includes articles on attracting beneficial insects, controlling specific garden pests, and using organic pesticides.

Cucumber Beetles

The most common of cucumber pests are black and yellow cucumber beetles, including striped cucumber beetles, spotted cucumber beetles, and similar species. In addition to chewing on leaves, flowers and fruit of cucumber, melon and squash, cucumber beetles transmit a disease called bacterial wilt, which causes plants to wilt and die, and may spread several viruses.

Organic controls for cucumber beetles include handpicking, excluding them with row cover barriers, or using kaolin clay to disguise plants. You also can make cucumber beetle traps and use companion planting to deter these cucumber pests. Cucumber beetles are found throughout North America, and more than one species may be found in the same garden.

What Are Cucumber Beetles?

These two types of cucumber beetles are frequent pests of cucumber family crops:

Striped cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum) are less than a quarter inch long, with three black stripes down their wing covers. The slightly larger Western striped cucumber beetle (A. trivittatum) is more common west of the Mississippi River. The little beetles fly away when disturbed, and are common visitors to all members of the cucumber family, including cucumbers, melons, gourd and squash.

The spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata) is about one-third inch long, and is bright greenish-yellow with 12 black spots on its wing covers. The slightly smaller Western spotted cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata undecimpunctata) is found in the far West, from Oregon to Arizona. Spotted cucumber beetles emerge later in spring than striped cucumber beetles.

What Cucumber Beetle Damage Looks Like

When seedlings are young, cucumber beetles tend to feed on the stems and leaf undersides, rasping away at tender tissues. Mated adults lay eggs at the base of cucumber-family plants, and the larvae weaken plants by feeding on their roots. Later in spring, when plants begin to flower, numerous beetles may be found eating flowers and tender young fruits.

These cucumber beetles often spread bacterial wilt, which causes infected plants to die, one branch at a time. After a plant is infected, nothing can be done to stop the progress of the disease, which clogs up the plants’ vascular systems to the point where they cannot function.

Cucumber Beetle Life Cycle

Cucumber beetles overwinter in woods and low vegetation. When temperatures reach the mid-50s in spring, spotted cucumber beetles emerge and begin feeding on the pollen, petals and fruit of roses and various perennial flowers. As soon as cucumber-family crops become available, the beetles find them and begin to feed. Spotted cucumber beetles often appear later, especially in northern areas. Cucumber beetles are strong fliers, and also travel northward on strong southerly winds.

Mated females lay eggs near the base of host plants. Striped cucumber beetles may lay 1,500 eggs in their two-month lifespan; spotted cucumber beetles lay 200 to 300 eggs per female. The cucumber beetle life cycle takes four to six weeks, and goes faster in warm weather. The tiny white larvae begin eating plant roots as soon as they hatch, though vigorous plants continue to grow despite this feeding. The larvae change into pupae after feeding for about two weeks. It is not unusual for new waves of adult cucumber beetles to appear every three weeks or so through the first half of summer.

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Natural Enemies of Cucumber Beetles

Numerous natural predators attack cucumber beetles at various life stages, but they seldom provide adequate control. General predators include birds, frogs and various wasps and flies, including the small tachinid fly. Below ground, nematodes and fungi claim victims among cucumber beetle larvae.

Organic Cucumber Beetle Control

Overall insect balancing is important managing these cucumber pests. An abundance of several repellent plants (radish, nasturtium and tansy) should be grown nearby, or you can use the cut foliage from radish, tansy or carrot as a pest-repellent mulch. At the same time, companion plantings of buckwheat, catnip or borage grown within a few yards will attract beneficial insects to the area.

The top-rated control among MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers is the use of floating row covers, which are installed over plants the day they are set out. In addition, several field trials on organic farms have shown that delaying spring planting by two weeks helps to avoid natural spikes in cucumber beetle populations. Row covers must be removed to admit pollinators when the plants reach the flowering stage, and again a delay of seven to 10 days can enhance season-long cucumber beetle control without reducing yields. A little extra time under row covers works out well with cucumber-family crops, which tend to set their best fruits from their second sets of flowers.

In the absence of row covers, young plants can be defended surprisingly well by spraying them with kaolin clay, and by placing a flat piece of aluminum foil beneath seedlings, with a slit made to accommodate the main stem. Cucumber beetles do not like to feed in this highly reflective environment.

Cucumber beetles are easily trapped in yellow sticky traps, which can be purchased or made from small pieces of wood painted bright yellow/orange (the color of squash blossoms), covered with Tangle-Trap and mounted on stakes just above foliage level. In a home garden, one of the most effective uses of sticky traps is in late spring, before you plant your crop. To create an irresistible trap, grow several seedlings of ‘Blue Hubbard’ squash or ‘Big Max’ pumpkin — two of many varieties known to attract cucumber beetles — in quart containers. When daytime temperatures rise above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, sink the containers in the ground around the outside of your garden, and install a yellow sticky trap just above the foliage of each trap plant. Handpick cucumber beetles found on the plants. After three weeks, pull and compost the trap crop, shaking any beetles present into a bucket of soapy water. This procedure will set back the first generation of cucumber beetles.

Handpicking cucumber beetles is often futile during midday, when they quickly fly to cover. You will be more successful in the morning or evening. In the morning, place a piece of cardboard (or open pizza box) beneath plants to catch beetles that drop to the ground. Coat the fingertips of a yellow rubber glove with petroleum jelly to make it easier to collect beetles clustered in flowers. When handpicking in the evening, it may help to wear a yellow shirt. Instead of flying away, beetles will fly to your sleeve where they are easily knocked into a pail of soapy water.

If you have chickens, you can use your tamest hens to do a supervised flash-forage in plants infested with cucumber beetles. About an hour before the chickens normally go inside to roost, lead a few chickens to the problem area, enclosing them in a portable pen if necessary to protect nearby plantings. Remove the chickens after 30 minutes of feeding.

More Advice on Organic Cucumber Beetle Control

Managing these cucumber pests requires constant attention, but it is time well spent. Several dangerous systemic pesticides are routinely used in conventionally grown cucumbers and melons, so implementing organic controls for cucumber beetles is worth the time and effort.

Experiment with companion plants and repellent mulches to keep cucumber beetles manageable in late summer, after row covers are removed.

When it’s time to pull up infested plants, gently move them onto a tarp and drag it to your compost pile or chicken yard on a cool morning to keep the beetles from flying away. You also can use chickens to rid soil of cucumber beetle larvae by parking a portable pen over the bed after the plants are harvested.

Cucumbers that lack the bitter gene are naturally non-preferred by cucumber beetles, so you can prevent problems by growing resistant varieties such as ‘Little Leaf’ picking cucumber and most “burpless” slicing cucumbers. Unfortunately, comparable levels of resistance are not available in melons or winter squash.

More information on organic cucumber beetle control is available from Utah State University and University of Minnesota.


How To Kill Cucumber Beetles Organically

Are your cucumber plants starting to lose its leaves? It’s likely you are having a problem with cucumber beetles.

I gardened for years without seeing these little pests in my garden. Then we moved and ever since we’ve had striped cucumber beetles after our plants.

Striped cucumber beetles are a small beetle only 1/4 inch (6.35 mm) long. They are yellow with black stripes and easy to see in your garden.

At first, you might only notice one or two but left alone they will quickly multiply!

How To Get Rid Of Cucumber Beetles

Cucumber Beetle Life-Cycle

Adult striped cucumber beetles overwinter in protected areas close to houses, fences and in the woods.

In the spring when the weather starts to warm they begin to come out.

They will quickly find plants to eat and then lay their eggs around the base of the stem. The adult beetles eat the leaves, flowers, pollen and the larva eats the roots of cucumber plants.

The cucumber beetle larva emerges later in the summer as an adult beetle for the second round of their lifecycle.

Cucumber beetles are aptly named because cucumbers are their favorite food. However, I’ve also found them eating zucchini and other summer squash, melons, and pumpkins in my garden.

Early in the season before these plants have sprouted I’ve also found them eating my tomatillos, ground cherries, peppers, and tomatoes! See these are nasty little pests.

Cucumber beetles can quickly devour young plants but their damage goes beyond only eating your crops. They also carry bacterial wilt disease.

Bacterial Wilt

Cucumber beetles carry the bacteria that causes bacterial wilt in their guts. As these beetles feed on your cucumber plants they can spread it through their mouths and feces.

Once the bacteria has been introduced it spreads quickly and causes the leaves of your cucumbers to wilt.

At first, you will notice your cucumber leaves start to flop down a little.

Then other leaves around it will droop and then the stem. The bacteria spreads quickly and causes the entire plant to wilt and die.

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There is little you can do to save an infected plant the best method is prevention.

Delayed Planting

You can try delaying your cucumber plantings by a few weeks. Some gardeners and market growers who have longer growing seasons have had luck by doing this.

When the cucumber beetles emerge in the spring if they don’t find food nearby they will fly to where they can find it.

So by delaying your plantings any cucumber beetles that have overwintered in your garden should leave before your plants are up.

They will still be affected by the second round of beetles but by then your plants are larger and more established.

We live in a short zone 5 growing season so we have 3 months of summer and really we can get frosts into early June. Delaying planting isn’t always a good option for us.

A few years ago we were having a really bad year for cucumber beetles but I found an organic solution!

Using Diatomaceous Earth To Get Rid Of Cucumber Beetles

Diatomaceous earth works so well to keep cucumber beetles out of our garden!

Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic powder that makes an excellent pest control for your garden. Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder that is made from ground up fossils of diatoms a type of algae with a hard shell.

When it’s ground up it would look something like broken glass shards under a microscope. You wouldn’t want to crawl through that and neither do the bugs!

To kill and prevent cucumber beetles I sprinkle diatomaceous earth all over my young plants and the ground around them. Most of the beetles are gone that day and a few days later I don’t find any at all.

I find Amazon has the best price and a wide selection of diatomaceous earth.

Now there are a few things you need to know.

Diatomaceous earth can kill any bug that crawls through it and that includes bees. So I try to not use this on my plants when they are flowering.

Instead, I use it when my plants first come up and as needed until they are well established. Now if my plants were flowering and under a heavy attack from cucumber beetles, yes I would still use the diatomaceous earth.

I would try to apply it mostly to the ground around the plants, though. This way it would get the beetles without affecting the pollinating insects.

Tips for using Diatomaceous earth

  • Apply diatomaceous earth sparingly and only use it on plants that are heavily affected by insects.
  • Apply diatomaceous earth when the bees are less likely to be out. This is early in the morning or late in the evening.
  • Apply diatomaceous earth on the soil around your plants where the pests are more likely to be and bees are not normally found.
  • Use a mask when applying diatomaceous earth, especially when it’s windy. It’s a gritty powder and it’s not a good idea to be breathing that in.

More Organic Cucumber Beetle Control Tips

Obviously using diatomaceous earth is my favorite way to kill cucumber beetles but there are other natural methods you can use to protect your cucumber plants too.

A big part of this is by attracting beneficial insects to your garden.

Beneficial Insects

You may be surprised to find out but ladybugs and lacewings will eat cucumber beetle eggs! So make sure you plant lots of flowers around your garden that attract these helpful insects to your garden.

You can get ladybugs to add to your garden here for a great price!

Another helpful insect in the garden is the spined soldier bug. It doesn’t look very friendly and is often mistaken for a squash bug, but this helpful insect is a real predator in your garden.

Spined soldier bugs have a very sharp proboscis that they use to literally suck the juices out of other insects. They are very helpful for getting rid of cucumber beetles but they also eat many other pests like cabbage worms and flea beetles.

Sticky Traps

Another method that works for killing striped cucumber beetles is to place yellow sticky traps near your cucumber plants.

These sticky bug traps are the same color as the cucumber flowers and the adult beetles will be attracted to them.

Make sure to place the sticky traps out into your garden before the cucumbers start to flower for them to be the most effective.

Use Trap Crops

You can also plant trap crops out into your garden before your cucumber plants go in.

Blue hubbard squash is a great trap crop for cucumber beetles because it produces a high amount of cucurbitacin starting when the plants are only 2 weeks old.

Plant these host plants on the edges of your garden and watch them closely for signs of cucumber beetles.

Place yellow sticky traps around the plants to help catch the adult cucumber beetles when they first start showing up in your garden. Then dust the plants well with diatomaceous earth to kill the remainder.

Prevent Cucumber Beetles

Start taking measures early in the garden season to prevent damage from cucumber beetles. This starts by deciding what varieties of cucumbers you want to grow.

While there are none that are actually resistant to cucumber beetles planting cucumbers that are resistant to bacterial wilt will help a lot because the plants won’t be susceptible to the diseases the cucumber bugs carry.

Another way to deter these garden pests is to keep spraying a thin coating of kaolin clay over the leaves through the growing season.

It creates a surface that insects really don’t like. I like this brand that comes in bulk for gardens and orchards.

One of the easiest ways to control cucumber beetles on your plants is to keep them covered with floating row covers.

You’ll want to use a lightweight one that is made for insect protection and not frost protection during the main growing season.

This cover will keep the adult beetles from landing on your plants.

The only downside to this is that you would either have to pollinate the cucumber flowers by hand or remove the cover once the cucumbers start to flower so bees can pollinate the flowers.

I’ve tried many organic sprays over the years for different bugs in our garden. So far diatomaceous earth is the only natural method I’ve found that successfully controls cucumber beetles.

Now that you’ve learned how to get rid of cucumber beetles organically I hope you’ll have a much more relaxing growing season!

Do you need an easy way to keep track of your garden? Click here to get your free printable garden journal.

Kim Mills is a homeschooling mom of 6 and lives on an urban homestead in Ontario, Canada. Blogging at Homestead Acres she enjoys sharing tips to help you save money, grow and preserve your own food.


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