The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Insect-resistant vegetable varieties

Types of grapesJapanese beetles taught me my first lesson about variety selection.  We had a terrible problem with these invasive beetles on our grapevines until I realized that French hybrid varieties are much more tasty to Japanese beetles than are American varieties.  The latter can be distinguished by their thicker leaves, which are often whitened underneath, and by the relative paucity of beetles chowing down on the leaves. 

In addition to grapes, Japanese beetles also defoliated our young sweet-cherry tree, but damage on other plants seemed to stay at low enough levels that the trees could shrug it off.  After switching our small vineyard over to American grapes and removing our cherry tree, the Japanese beetle pressure was reduced to the point where hand-picking was sufficient to keep beetles at bay.

In general, variety selection can be a helpful strategy in controlling at least five of the dirty-dozen worst garden pests in the U.S.  The table below includes pest-resistant varieties drawn from several different extension-service websites and other sources.

Insect-resistant vegetable varieties
Pest insect
Insect-resistant varieties
Collards, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage are tastier to these insects than are other crucifers.  Within each type of vegetable, vegetables with dark green, glossy leaves are more resistant to cabbageworms, while cabbage butterflies sometimes avoid laying eggs on red cabbage varieties.  Resistant cabbage varieties include Chieftan Savoy, Early Globe, Mommoth, Red Acre, Red Rock, Round Dutch, and Savoy Perfection Drumhead.
Corn earworms
Any corn with a tight husk will be more resistant to earworms.  Specifically resistant varieties include Country Gentlemen, Golden Security, Seneca, Silvergent, and Staygold.
Cucumber beetles
In general, cucumber beetles prefer zucchini-type squash over others and don't like burpless cucumbers as well as other varieties.  Blue Hubbard squash, Ashley, Chipper, Gemini, Piccadilly, Poinsett, and Stono cucumbers; Early Prolific, Scallop, Straightneck, and White Bush squash; and Galia, Passport, Pulsar, Rising Star, and Super Star melons are all reported to be resistant to cucumber beetles.

However, the more important issue is to select a variety resistant to the bacterial wilt carried by cucumber beetles.  These wilt-resistant varieties include Connecticut Yellow Field, Harvest Moon, and Howden pumpkins; Waltham butternut; Buttercup squash; Black Beauty zucchini; and Ashley, Chinese Long, Chipper, County Fair, Eversweet, Gemini, Improved Long Green, Saticoy Hybrid, Sunnybrook, and Tokio Long cucumbers.  Watermelons are usually resistant to bacterial wilt.
Squash bugs
Squash bugs prefer yellow summer squash over zucchinis, squash over pumpkins, pumpkins over gourds, and gourds over melons.  Resistant varieties include acorn squash, butternuts, Early Summer Crookneck, Green Striped Cushaw, Improved Green Hubbard, Spaghetti, Sweet Cheese, and zucchinis (except for the susceptible Cocozelle).
Squash vine borers
Varieties resistant to squash vine borers tend to have thin, tough stems.  In addition, vining types are more resistant than bush types since the former can root along their nodes and survive moderate levels of borer damage.  The most resistant varieties include butternuts and Green Striped Cushaw, followed by Dickenson Pumpkin and Summer Crookneck.  Other varieties reputed to have at least some resistance include acorn squash, Cucuzzi (also known as snake gourd), and Connecticut Field, Dickenson, and Small Summer pumpkins.

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from Naturally Bug-Free!  If so, you can download the ebook for free on Amazon by clicking the link above today.  Or drop me an email to receive a pdf copy instead.  Thanks for reading, and don't forget to leave a review when you're done!

This post is part of our Naturally Bug-Free lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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This is slightly off topic but relating to the Japanese beetles. The Japanese beetles ate everything around here (east central Alabama) until I bought some guinea hens. Now the beetle problem is minimal at most. They even went after the squash vine borers. At first I thought they were just destroying my squash vines until I took a closer look. They were only after the infested part of the vines. Like you said, the good section of vine grew roots so the vine continued to grow. Since buying guineas I have been able to stop using seven dust in the garden. I refused to use anything stronger but now I don’t use anything.
Comment by Ned Mon Feb 17 13:01:03 2014
Hey everybody, Tanglefoot pest barrier-( truly been a life saver for our cukes and squash this year-unbelievable ...product is also sold at Home Depot
Comment by Betty Mon Jun 18 07:46:47 2018

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