UC IPM Makes It Happen
for organic ways to control cucumber beetles
Advisor Phil Phillips is field testing a new product
to control western striped cucumber beetles in cucurbits, a pest many regard as
the number one insect problem for organic growers.
Cucumber beetles are serious pests of smooth-skinned cucurbits, especially
melon varieties such as honeydew, crenshaw, and casaba. The beetles
chew holes in leaves and scar young fruits.
"No effective cultural controls exist for these pests, and natural
enemies are rarely effective enough to reduce populations below economically
levels," says Phil. "You have to spray it directly, and its
larvae feed on cucurbit roots where they can't be reached for control."
beetles have a greenish-yellow body with black spots or alternating
black and yellow stripes. They migrate into cultivated
areas from alfalfa
and other crops and from uncultivated lands. Cucumber beetles like
moisture and dislike heat; consequently, melon fields are especially
in hot weather during and after an irrigation.
Phil is experimenting
with incorporating an organic insecticide with an attractant and feeding
stimulant to control cucumber beetle
"Initial tests around the state this season look
Phil. "The product is dribbled onto the vegetation row, drawing in
the adults to feed. We have more field tests planned to find the most efficient
combination of attractant and toxicant. In the past, this beetle has been
difficult to kill and has required broad-spectrum products that aren't
certified for use by organic growers to obtain reasonable control."
Madera farmer praises the benefits of soil solarization
Tom Willey is spreading the word about solarization and how this inexpensive,
chemical-free approach killed the weeds plaguing his 75-acre organic
farm in the Central Valley.
In July 2005, Willey spoke to nearly 30 people at a workshop on solarization
sponsored by UCCE at his farm in Madera. Jim Stapleton, plant pathologist
and IPM advisor for the UC Statewide IPM Program, and Richard
UC Small Farm Program advisor for Fresno County, joined him for the presentation.
Soil solarization works like a greenhouse to trap the sun's heat to
raise temperatures that kill insects, plant diseases, weed seeds, nematodes,
and soil pathogens. The process has become a widespread and growing practice
for organic growers, home gardeners, and other users. Jim has published
several technical articles describing the science behind the technique
and also guides
for end users who
would like to use solarization in their own gardens or farms.
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