Hi! I'm new to permies as well as quite new to permaculture. So, onto the subject! We (my brother, my mother and I) grow various varieties of squash, zucchini and melons (among other things) because they are delicious. Cucumber beetles, which did not really concern us in the past have now been carrying bacterial wilt for 2 years and has been seriously lowering crops.
So, I'm wondering what I can do to control the population. Are there plants that attract predators? Do chickens eat them (we want chickens and ducks next year)?
We too have had just a few cucumber beetles for years and not had any wilt. There were times some of my cucumbers would wilt or yellow but it always proved to be something else, like a mole hole under the plant draining all of the water and once it was root knot nematodes and an occasional broken stem. We have a healthy insect eatting bird and bat population (both will eat cucumber beetles) and I always trellis the cucumbers for air circulation and easier pollination and bird access to bugs. I have a lot of flowers blooming attracting insects and making seed for birds and we are edged by woods. We have a bat house on the house (it made sense at the time but I wouldnt recommend it, I can hear them moving around to fly out when I go to bed). I move my cucumbers around and don't plant in the same spot over and over. I try to keep the foliage dry when watering. I am growing suyo long and have saved the seed for years. So far they are disease free.
My experience with chickens is that they would also peck the cucumbers (or melons or squash) along with the bugs.
I don't grow squash because of squash bugs but our melons have always been bug and wilt free even when cucumber beetles were on the cucumbers. I guess I would be absolutely sure it was a bacterial wilt and not another condition.
I suppose there are wilt resistent varieties of everything. Hopefully someone else will post a more helpful answer.
"We're all just walking each other home." -Ram Dass
"Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder."-Rumi
The Greenhouse of the Future ebook by Francis Gendron