Will Neem Oil Kill Cucumber Beetles?

Early in the spring, you may keep your garden under control by introducing natural predators including braconid wasps, certain nematodes, ground beetles, tachinid flies, and soldier beetles.

At various phases of development, ladybugs, assassin bugs, and green lacewings will also consume cucumber beetles.

The use of parasitic nematodes is one of the most popular biological controls for cucumber beetles. Small, worm-like parasitic organisms known as nematodes prey on insects and other small animals. Nematodes will hunt down cucumber beetle larvae in the soil and parasitize them. This eliminates the larvae and lowers the cucumber beetle population.

Neem Oil

Early treatment of cucumber beetles is possible with the use of the efficient natural insecticide neem oil. Neem oil acts by interfering with the beetle’s growth, stopping them from feeding and reproducing, and eventually starving them to death. Neem oil is slightly hazardous to bees and other pollinators, so be sure to apply when they are not active.

Trap Crop

Utilizing trap crops is one strategy for controlling these pests. In order to keep cucumber beetles away from your main crop, trap crops are plants that are planted next to sensitive crops. A trap crop is used in the hope that the beetles will eat it instead of the susceptible crop. This may lessen the amount of harm caused to the vulnerable crop.


Using aluminum plastic mulch is one method of preventing cucumber bugs from damaging your plants. The soil will be kept cold and moist by mulching with materials like cloth, hay, straw, or plastic, which will reduce the beetles’ attraction to the area. The beetles will be deterred from laying eggs as a result.

Wolf spiders, which are cucumber beetle natural predators, may be drawn to straw mulch.

Neem oil—does it eradicate spotted cucumber beetles?

For integrated pest management, it’s crucial to learn how to utilize a natural insecticide to regulate the cucumber beetle population in your garden. The seeds of the host tree, which is indigenous to South Asia and India, are the best source of neem oil.

Neem oil works well on squash bugs and has many other applications as a pesticide. When used directly, it coats insects to stop them from breathing, stops pests from feeding, and stops larvae from developing into adults. Various insects in the garden can be repelled by its bitter taste and odor.

How to Use Neem Oil for Cucumber Beetles in the Soil

Neem oil is effective when applied as a soil drench treatment, despite the fact that it is most frequently employed to kill and repel pests from plants. Neem oil is mixed into the soil in your garden, where it is then absorbed by the roots of your plants.

Neem oil targets insects like squash vine borers and flea beetles that penetrate or nibble on the plant’s vines and leaves, making it an effective systemic pesticide that works inside your plant. Neem oil can effectively manage a number of other pests, including cabbage worms.

Neem Oil Soak

  • Neem oil, 2 tablespoons
  • a cup of dish soap
  • a quart of water

To get ready for your soak, emulsify your water with dish soap to reduce surface tension and make it easier for water and oil to mix. After thoroughly combining, add your cold-pressed neem oil to the water. Around each plant that serves as a host for your target pests, use two to three cups of your soak. Apply this soak again every two weeks and observe the decrease in bugs.

All of your vegetables will benefit from this procedure. You need not be concerned about negative side effects because neem oil is safe for tomato plants and other edibles.

Cucumber Beetle Control with Neem Oil Traps

Yellow attracts cucumber insects, squash bugs, and Japanese beetles because it resembles the hue of flowers. A yellow sheet of plastic or paper is frequently used in commercial pest management traps as the basis for the adhesive in sticky traps.

Use a similar piece of material, neem oil, and a sticky substance to catch and eliminate insect pests to make your own.

Cucumber Beetle Trap

  • colored paper
  • Hemp oil
  • Adhesive

A piece of yellow paper or plastic should be covered in neem oil and your preferred glue. Good substitutes include honey, Vaseline, and non-drying glue. To trap and eliminate garden pests, stick this paper in the garden around the bases of your plants.

DIY Neem Oil Insecticide

The easiest way to use neem oil to prevent cucumber beetle infestations is to make a neem oil spray for your garden. Spotted and striped cucumber beetles, as well as other pests like Colorado potato beetles, can be controlled with a foliar spray. Neem oil treatments applied regularly are the best approach to kill insects on your plants and keep them at bay.

Insecticidal Soap Spray

  • tank squirter
  • Dish soap in liquid form, 2 teaspoons

Neem oil can be sprayed to ward off squash bugs and cucumber beetles. To make a soapy solution, combine water and dish detergent in the sprayer. Next, add the neem oil and stir well. Spray your plant, including the tops and bottoms of the leaves; this aids in reducing the number of aphids and zucchini bugs.

Controlling Cucumber Beetles with Trap Crops and Neem Oil

Utilizing trap crops and insecticides to repel and eliminate garden pests is one way to reduce the quantity of cucumber beetles in your garden.

Because they develop so quickly and their roots aid in preparing the soil for neighboring plants, radishes make a great trap crop. Add Blue Hubbard squash to your cucurbit plant garden to attract cucumber beetles.

Consider applying a neem oil insecticide to your trap crop to eliminate insects that feed on your trap crop in order to ensure that garden pests stay away from your favorite plants.

Using Neem Oil to Deal with Cucumber Beetle Eggs

When trying to keep your garden free of pests and deal with typical cucumber plant issues, dealing with adult cucumber beetles is only a portion of the difficulty. Adult beetles lay their eggs on the underside of plant leaves after feeding. You won’t stop the next generation of cucumber bugs from hatching if you only attack the ones you can see.

Neem oil can be used to kill cucumber beetles at any stage of development in addition to repelling them. Bring a pail of soapy water with neem oil mixed in with you if you often maintain gardens.

Look for egg clusters towards the base of the leaves, where the leaf veins converge to form a V. To kill these eggs, simply brush them into your soapy water.

What can suffocate cucumber beetles?

Cucumber beetles had a terrific year in 2020. All around the state, their populations are thriving, and at several farms, they have reached treatment threshold levels. In addition to offering a fairly succinct introduction of cucumber beetles, this page also suggests some management tactics.

Cucumber beetles: an overview

Acalymma vittatum, sometimes known as the striped cucumber beetle, is a widespread insect pest of cucurbits. They virtually always exist, although some years—like 2020—seem to be worse than others. Adult striped cucumber beetles often overwinter in garbage or field margins close to cucurbit plantings. In the southern region of the state, they typically start to become active in early June, and they are already starting to become active further north.

Cucumber bugs start mating and laying eggs at the base of plants as soon as they find your cucurbit fields. Larvae feed on plant roots and emerge underground, making it difficult to identify them until they pupate in the soil and emerge as adults, usually 40 to 60 days later.

Cucumber beetle damage

Striped cucumber beetles cause harm in two ways that are significant:

One is bacterial wilt. In June, the first adults emerge and feed on young plants, resulting in defoliation. Furthermore, they frequently spread the illness bacterial wilt (Erwinia tracheiphila). When carriers’ mouthparts or excrement come into touch with open wounds in the plant caused by feeding or other mechanical injury, plants can get infected. For one to three weeks following infection, this bacteria’s symptoms—wilting during the day and regaining strength at night—do not manifest. Cucumber beetles must therefore be properly managed, even if you are not experiencing any symptoms. Infected plants are most likely to be young plants. Melons and cucumbers are particularly vulnerable; pumpkins and squash are less so.

2. Feeding injury Cucumber beetles can do significant harm by merely defoliating plants, especially when they are young, up to the stage of three genuine leaves. However, they have the potential to do significant harm all summer long, and they can particularly harm growing fruit cosmetically.

Most farmers have already planted all of their cucurbits, so a few strategies are too late to try. These early season preventative controls include using metallic plastic mulches, which disorient cucumber beetles, and using row cover.

Spraying your plants with kaolin clay at this time of year is a typical tactic. Kaolin clay has a special ability to repel cucumber beetles because it accumulates in their antennae and forms a sticky coating that makes it challenging for them to move around. It is not advisable to use kaolin clay as a rescue remedy since it will not eradicate cucumber beetles. It is intended to deter them from eating your crop directly. It can still be a smart idea to apply kaolin clay if you’re already seeing large populations in your fields, but think about combining it with an insecticide spray.

Many cucumber bugs get together. Although the thresholds for spraying are 1 to 5 bugs per plot (see below), we frequently witness populations of over 100 beetles on a single plant and sparse populations elsewhere in the field. Consider burning the beetles in a concentrated region if you’re witnessing concentrated concentrations and have a large enough producing area to sacrifice a few plants. An insect vacuum might also be useful in these circumstances. Although insect vacuums are pricey and difficult to find, some gardeners have made affordable vacuums out of repurposed leaf blowers.

Furthermore, get rid of plants right away if you notice any signs of bacterial wilt. They are a source of bacterial wilt in your field and won’t thrive anyhow. Not all cucumber beetles have bacterial wilt by default; instead, they must feed on an infected plant before moving on to an uninfected plant to spread the disease.

Cucumber beetle can be controlled well with pyrethrin insecticides and neem, although you probably need to treat more than once. Apply pyrethrins either early in the morning or late at night because they are contact insecticides that will kill the majority of insects, even beneficial ones. There are several ways that neem works, but its major function is an antifeeding one. Both of these compounds are present in Azera, a single OMRI-approved medicine on the market. The only OMRI-recommended product listed in the Midwest Vegetable Production Guide for Commercial Growers is Azera. Products containing pyrethrin and neem can also be bought and used separately.

Spinosad is also an option. Keep in mind that if spinosad is your go-to for other insects like flea beetles, potato beetles, etc., you should take care to prevent resistance and over-use. Beauvaria bassiana and other biocontrol products have shown some promise in lab settings, but have not demonstrated significant control in field trials.

For controlling cucumber beetles, many common insecticides work well. For a complete list, consult the Midwest Guide.

How can you prevent cucumber beetle damage next year?

To avoid overwintering, clear the field of all leftovers. If you are awake

Chop or shred residues when using a no-till or minimal-till system to encourage quicker breakdown.

  • Utilize less appealing varieties. The Cucumber Beetle Management Document from ATTRA includes numerous ranking lists on variety attractiveness.
  • Use plastic mulch or straw mulch. Reflective plastic is especially useful.

How can I keep cucumber beetles away from my plants?

Keeping cucumber beetles away from your plants is the first step in controlling them. Row coverings or some other covering on the plant is the best approach to keep cucumber bugs away. Row coverings should be placed in place as soon as the plants are planted since cucumber beetles will start to appear in the middle of spring. When the plants blossom, the row covers can be taken off to give pollinators access to the plants.

Neem oil is safe to use on cucumber plants.

Cucumber beetles can be eliminated in a number of ways. These are the approaches I’ve used and how effective they have been for me.

Method 1- Manual Extraction

The first thing you may do is physically remove each and every beetle from your plants and squish it like an insect.

Due to their small size, you will surely miss some beetles using this strategy, and more ones will just fly in as soon as you turn your back.

Method 2- Neem Oil

Utilizing a pesticide like neem oil extract can help with your cucumber beetle infestation as a second option. A naturally occurring pesticide called neem oil can be found in the seeds of the neem tree.

In organic gardening, it is extracted, diluted into a foliar spray, and used as a natural pesticide and fungicide. Its garlicky fragrance and harsh flavor deter insects.

I can’t give you a decent recommendation for a synthetic insecticide, but I don’t think it’s wrong if you wish to use one.

I’ve definitely seen a drop in beetles in my plants since using neem oil to my cucumbers and squash. I would admit, though, that the issue hasn’t been resolved entirely.

The main draw for cucumber beetles is what?

Cultural controls may be the best choice for many organic farmers because insecticides that have been certified for use in organic farming have not always been found to be effective (see below). Crop rotation, using transplants rather than direct seeding, row coverings, trap crops, mulching for predator conservation, using reflective plastic mulches, selecting resistant cultivars, and intercropping are examples of cultural management.

Rotate cucurbit crops

Near the cucumber harvest from the previous year, cucumber beetles frequently spend the winter. Planting cucurbits as far away from last year’s crop as you can from it is one strategy to lessen pest issues the following year. Hedgerows and outbuildings can act as barriers to prevent beetles from colonizing the fresh crop at the planting site from this year. Because of the insects’ considerable mobility, crop rotation is unlikely to be sufficient to completely manage cucumber beetles.

Use floating row covers

The most effective defense against cucumber beetles is provided by floating row coverings, which should be retained in place until flowering (row covers must eventually be removed to allow bees and other pollinators to visit the flowers). Row coverings’ drawbacks include their high price and the fact that they prevent weeding access to the crop. If the plastic mulch is removed from the field at the end of the growing season, it is possible to mix plastic or other mulches with floating row covers to lessen these weed issues.

Apply straw mulch

There are at least three main ways that straw mulch can aid to lessen cucumber beetle issues. Mulch may firstly directly slow the passage of beetles from one plant to another (Cranshaw, 1998; Olkowski, 2000). Second, the mulch protects wolf spiders and other predators from the hot, dry weather, aiding in the conservation of predators (Snyder and Wise, 2001; Williams and Wise, 2003). Third, the straw mulch serves as food for springtails and other insects that consume decomposing plant matter; these non-pest prey items are crucial for increasing spider populations (Halaj and Wise, 2002). It is crucial that straw mulch is free of weed seeds and that there are no pesticide residues, which can take years to completely degrade.

Use reflective plastic mulches

According to research conducted in Virginia (Caldwell and Clark, 1998), metallic-colored plastic mulches deter cucumber beetles, lessening the harm they do with their eating and the spread of bacterial wilt.