This year for the first time I have been using Rotenone regularly in my
garden. I am fairly happy with the results. The brassica are
unblemished by cabbageworms, and huge. I sprayed the base of the
zucchini, and so far there is no sign of vine borers. Both used to be a
regular occurrence in the past.
But all my cucumbers (4) and all the winter quash (3) show signs of
bacterial wilt. Soon zucchini, melons and watermelons may follow. I
sprayed them irregularly, for fear of killing pollinators. Indeed some
of the melons have only one fruit, and the zucchini and string beans
have gone through a dry period, so I may have done something bad. Last
week I used a paintbrush to pollinate things by hand. I inspected the
cuke flowers two days ago and I found a cucumber beetle (striped) every
The cukes are fairly advanced in the disease but they have all produced
their share. The winter squash are still going through the all male
flowers period, barely show signs, but I suspect I will lose the crop
(as well as 80 sqft of garden use, they are huge plants). No signs yet
in the other plants. I wonder how others manage cuke beetles, specially
Rotenone provides good insect control but will do nothing for leaf diseases.
Next year, rotate your crops, plant resistant varieties, mulch to inhibit
splashing rain water from spreading soil-borne diseases, and maintain a
weekly fungicide spray routine.
I finally gave up on being virtuous and a started spraying my peppers with
malathion (to combat pepper maggots). I also hit the bases of my squash
plants with it, too. Not so much sign of squash borers.
The recent stretches of hot, humid weather (with the very warm nights)
Downy mildew is the big worry for cucurbits in Michigan this summer:
(It was even mentioned in the Detroit Free Press.)
Winter squash usually tolerates bacterial wilt pretty well. It's cucumbers
and melons that inevitably die from it.
I gave up on growing melons and only grow cukes that don't require
pollination in a large screened-in box. I just was not willing to spray
as often with as potent an insecticide as would be required. Probably
the safest thing (bee-wise) would be a synthetic pyrethrin sprayed in
the late evening or *at night* but you pretty much have to hit the beetles
with it directly. Even one beetle feeding on a plant can infect it with wilt.
The most often recommended and potent pyrethroid formulations are
restricted use pesticides, brand names Ambush and Pounce. Commercial
growers also use Admire (active ingredient, Imidacloprid) as a soil
drench. It's a systemic insecticide, chemically kin to nicotine.
I used to use a product called Adios which is carbaryl encapsulated
with cucurbitacin, which acts as a bait. The beetles would feed on the
grains of Adios and die. I don't know what happened to this product
but since I haven't able to get it any more, I wasn't able to keep the
beetles from spreading bacterial wilt and so gave up growing melons.
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)
Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
Thanks for your reply Pat. Spraying the base of zucchini is probably an
efficient use of pesticides. Knowing the life cycle of borers,I really
only had to do it three times, once because of heavy rain. And it is a
By this you mean the pollination stops under these conditions. But the
lull was before the 90+ weather. It must have been me. I will spray at
dusk from now on.
I have not seen it. My summer garden is sandy, dry, and windswept.
Manured, mulched, and dripped it produces, but not a good place for any
Interestingly, the cukes are keeling over but the melons (first year of
growing) are unaffected. One early variety, Passport, will clearly be
able to finish a few melons even if it starts wilting tomorrow. I
wonder if it takes a while for the beetles to find a new vegetable.
So even for you they can't be beat without a major effort. I will
google it and see what transpires.
Pat Kiewicz wrote:
I looked up some sites and the following seemed the best to me
It turns out that I have been reasonably lucky. Right now I am growing
the green melon Passport, which is early, and is also listed as #8 out
of ten in beetle attraction. I have always grown Gold Rush zucchini,
because they are substantially earlier than regular zucchini, and
because they are yellow and easy to spot in the jungle. Gold Rush, too,
scores at the bottom as far as zucchini are concerned. I have grown
some winter squash, which are mostly unattractive. The site lists
watermelon as not sensistive to bacterial wilt.
I have to wonder if all these years the cukes have not acted as trap
crops for me and spared me further damage. In fact, by planting year
after year the ultra early County Fair (whose flavor I prefer over
three other varieties I have tried), I may have had a good combination
of trapping by having a early plant up, and decent crops in early July
before the disease prevailed (and incidentally before other non-greens
crops are ready).
Clearly from now on I will select only cucurbita that score well on the
attraction list. The site does list Adios.
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