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

Beetles on squash

Squash beetleEven though I use the lower-work strategies I outline in The Naturally Bug-Free Garden to deal with pests on cucurbits, I do crush bad bugs there if they hang around while I'm taking photos or harvesting.

The beetle to the left was clearly a bad bug since it was sitting on a nibbled section of leaf, so I smashed it...then went inside to look the beetle up.  I learned that squash beetles (Epilachna borealis) are actually ladybugs, as are Mexican bean beetles.  Despite their illustrious heritage, though, these are beneficials gone bad --- both species are leaf eaters in all stage of their life cycle.  To tell squash beetles apart from good ladybugs, look for the orange color and for the seven big black spots on each wing cover (i.e. on each half of the back).
Spotted cucumber beetle
Spotted cucumber beetles (Diabrotica undecimpunctata howardi) are also on the bad list, although the beetles I saw this weekend were inside squash flowers and might have been acting as minor pollinators.  (Makes me want to do a series of photographs entitled "What Georgia O'Keefe left out of her paintings.")

Since cucurbits are native to the Americas, they tend to feed more pest insects than many of our other vegetables.  In addition to the ones shown here, you're likely to find squash bugs, squash vine borers, and striped cucumber beetles in your planting, and might also stumble across other cucumber beetles, corn rootworms, melonworms, pickleworms, armyworms, cutworms, leafminers, seedcorn maggots, tarnished plant bugs, aphids, leafhoppers, thrips, mites, and sap worms eating various parts of your plants.  Phew!  Sometimes it's a wonder gardeners have excess zucchinis to foist off on their neighbors at this time of the year.

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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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I love your curiosity & desire for knowledge.

Your last sentence is key: Nature is usually in balance and it's only the commercial farmers who need to squeeze every last fruit out of their fields for Profit's sake.

The pioneer farmers used to plant corn by hand in hills, four seeds to a hill. "One for the bird; one for the worm; one for the rust; and one for me."

Comment by doc Sun Jun 22 07:29:02 2014

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