This year I planted 8 rows of popcorn, primarily so that my kids could
see the seeds germinate, grow into plants, then help harvest the
popcorn. (and pop it, of course) We live in the city, so it is fun
being able to look 5 feet out from the kitchen window and see those
tall stalks of corn right there.
Lately, however, striped cucumber beetles have started stripping the
leaves. I have 6 short rows, and about 26 plants total. Twice a day,
after breakfast and supper, I go out and squash as many as I find.
Usually that comes to more than two dozen a day, or about one per
plant. They seem to be eating the leaves from the underside. It also
seems like they congregate and strip primarily one leaf, then go on to
the next, almost as if they are leaving a chemical marker letting other
beetles know the best place to eat.
I've tried applying thiodan a couple of times, with a stronger dose the
second time. I've also tried diazinon. Neither seemed to have any
effect on the beetles at all.
Obviously, my squishing is causing something - I've killed 250 of them
so far. Unfortunately, since I have the only corn plants for probably
half a mile, they seem unusually drawn to my back yard.
Anyone have any idea what I can do to save my corn plants, and get an
actual crop? The squirrels didn't attack this year, and I was just
starting to think I might actually get some popcorn out of it. Thanks!