Cucurbit Family Plant Problems - Cucumber Beetles

Striped cucumber beetle (1/4 inch long).

Spotted and Striped cucumber beetles


Yellow-green beetles with black stripes or spots chew holes in leaves, leafstalks, and stems. Plants may be stunted or wilted; they may die prematurely.

ANALYSIS: Cucumber beetles

Cucumber beetles, both striped (Acalymma species) and spotted (Diabrotica species), are common pests of cucumbers, melons, squash, and pumpkins. Controlling these beetles is important because they carry two serious diseases that damage and may kill cucurbits: mosaic virus and bacterial wilt. Adult beetles survive the winter in plant debris and weeds. They emerge in the early spring and feed on a variety of plants. As soon as cucurbits are planted in the garden, the beetles attack the leaves and stems and may totally destroy the plants. Mature females lay their yellow-orange eggs in the soil at the bases of plants. The grubs that hatch from these eggs eat the roots and stems below the soil line, causing stunting, wilting, or premature death. The slender white grubs feed for several weeks, pupate in the soil, and emerge as adults to repeat the cycle. There is one generation per year in the northern United States but two or more in southern areas.


At the first sign of the beetles, treat the plants with an insecticide containing carbaryl (SEVIN), diazinon, or pyrethrins. Repeat at weekly intervals as the plants become reinfested. Control early in the season helps prevent susceptible young seedlings and plants from becoming infected with bacterial wilt.

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Text and images adopted from theOrtho Problem Solver
Last Updated: Fri Sep 06 10:30:00PM CST 1996

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