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Cathie Rowand/ The Journal Gazette
A destructive cucumber beetle on a cucumber blossom.

Lost sleep

Cathie Rowand/ The Jouranl Gazette
Lemon cucumber ripening on the vine.
Cathie Rowand/ The Journal Gazette
Early Silverline melon might taste good if the cucumber beetles don't destroy it.

I didn't sleep all that well last night. I made the mistake of reading about cucumber beetles before going to sleep. I had seen some on my cucumber plants and had thought that since they were in the flowers of the cucumber they were pollinating. Then I remembered what a friend had mentioned about cucumber beetles. I decided to do some research.

Turns out the cucumber beetles were feeding on the blossoms. These beetles feed on the leaves, vines and fruits of cucumbers and melons as well as other blossoming plants. This many sound threatening enough for your vegetables but they cause even more serious problems. The cucumber beetles are vectors of bacterial wilt.

One plant is already wilting away. I know I can always go to the farmers market for wonderful cucumbers, but this year I have heirloom Early Silverline melons that are growing on the vine. I mixed them in with my cucumbers. I also have a few lemon cucumbers that are doing well.

This morning I tried pulling them off by hand but more flew away than were caught. I am going to keep trying to catch and smash them. I generally don't kill bugs, but when they threaten my wonderful vegetables, I become a different person.

I did see a katydid and a spider on the cucumber plants who might help me out. Hopefully there are some natural predators such as soldier beetles, tachinid flies and braconid wasps on the leaves as well.

Journey through gardening season with Rosa Salter Rodriguez (feature writer) rsalter@jg.net, Anne Gregory (Web editor and writer) agregory@jg.net, Frank Noonan (copy editor) fnoonan@jg.net and Cathie Rowand (photographer) crowand@jg.net.

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