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Squash Bugs and Cucumber Beetles

 
Kyle Smith
Posts: 12
Location: Ft. Worth, Texas - Zone 7a
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I’ve been having problems with Squash Bugs and Cucumber Beetles in the garden this year. I’ve heard diatomaceous earth can be used to deter them so I’ll give that a try. Does anyone have any other ideas on how to combat either of these two or know of other species that prey upon them that I could try to attract?
 
Ben Johansen
Posts: 88
Location: Door County, WI
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Kyle, I'm not exactly up to snuff on which organic sprays are best for cucumber beetles, but I do know this: about six years ago, I started planting daikon radishes at the base of every squash and cuke. They have effectively eliminated my striped cucumber beetle and squash vine borer beetle problems. By producing a root exudate that the cucumber intakes, and the insects find disgusting, as well as helping pull up nutrients from lower soil depths, the daikon (any radish should work) helps the cucumber complete her work. (For this season, Diatomaceous earth would probably work too.)
 
Kyle Smith
Posts: 12
Location: Ft. Worth, Texas - Zone 7a
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Thanks. I'll have to try that next season. Companion planting is a beautiful thing.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2011
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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Once upon a time in the make believe world of Corporationia, researchers at land grant universities discovered that they could use pesticides to kill squash bugs and cucumber beetles. So they started spaying the heck out of the plants and they were saved. Yay for science!!! So generation after generation the plant breeders used poisons to protect the squash from bugs. Generation after generation the genetic knowledge of how to deal with bugs got lost as plants without resistance to bugs gained prominence among the plant population. Then the chemical corporations bought up the seed companies, and they discovered that they could sell more poisons if they sold only those squash seeds that are highly susceptible to squash bugs and cucumber beetles. So the world was saturated with squash containing little genetic memory about how to deal with bugs. And all was well because the corporations sold more poisons, which required them to hire more employees, which bought more things, and the economy grew and prospered.

However, there was a group of country bumpkins which called themselves The Purists. They believed that one of the first rules of healthy living is that they shouldn't poison themselves. So when they planted The Corporation's seeds, the squash failed due to lack of crop protection chemicals. But they didn't all fail. One variety in 20 or 50, or one plant in 100 of some varieties, or 1 plant in 10 of other varieties, still carried some residual memory of how to deal with bugs. The Purists saved seeds from the few plants that survived. They replanted the most resistant. Generation after generation, the genes that provided resistance to bugs got recombined, and the squash grown by The Purists became progressively more resistant to squash bugs and cucumber beetles.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2011
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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This year, I lent some space in my garden to a lady. She planted squash which were devoured by bugs.

I planted the same species of squash in the same field. My squash grew prolifically and produced an abundance of fruit.

Neither one of us used crop protection chemicals. She amended her soil, and I think added fertilizer. I didn't. The main difference between our crops as far as I can tell, is that she planted a highly inbred cultivar from a seed corporation, while I planted mongrel varieties that have been subjected to 7 years worth of survival-of-the-fittest selection for my garden. Her variety was dependent on crop protection chemicals. My varieties thrive without them. I have lost squash plants to bugs before. But not all. Some plants survived well enough to produce fruits and seeds in spite of the bugs. Those plants became the progenitors of the next generation which survived even better. I'm 7 generations into that kind of plant selection. I rarely lose a squash to bugs.
 
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