Garden Bugs, Know Your Enemy!

This is an updated, reworked posting from 2011.

First the Bad News, to make you feel really bad about all the back breaking hours you have spent getting ready for your bumper harvest of vegetables. There are over 350,000 documented species of beetles. To top this off, most of them are not your friends and they or their offspring, will devour your plants, flowers and vegetables. Sometime even before you know that they have made your garden home.

common ladybug beetle

ladybug larva

Identify That Beetle
35 destructive beetles
Beetle control

Now the Good News. Most of this hungry horde of beetles are not a problem in gardens and live their lives out in wooded areas, ranch grass lands and swamp lands. But, don’t be surprised to discover a few beetles in your garden that you and your gardening friends have never seen before and can not identify.

Just because a beetle has spots and is red or orange, does not make this little critter a ladybug beetle! Study pictures of ladybug beetles and learn how to identify the good guy’s from the bad guy’s. In your garden, the hated and feared cucumber beetle will most likely be your biggest bug problem along with the ever present squash bug.

banded cucumber beetle

spotted cucumber beetle

University of Minnesota All about Squash Bugs.
Squash bugs seem to drive many gardeners right to the brink of insanity. They are willing to feed on any member of the cucurbit family and feel free to help themselves to your cucumbers, summer and winter squash and pumpkins. Once they have sucked the juices from these plants, the vines often turn black and die. To add insult to injury, squash bugs will feed on the actual fruit of the plant once they have become bored with feeding on the foliage.

Once squash has finished its season, be sure to clean up after it properly. Tilling your squash patch and removing all the spent squash plants, composting them will bury or kill many of the surviving adult squash bugs and eliminate their winter homes. Some people even resort to burning the old vines or bagging the vines to send to the landfill.

squash bugs

vine bore moth

Black Beetles are good guy’s
carabid beetle This beetle is just one of many species which get the name “Common Black Ground Beetle.”

Ground beetles (Carabidae) are one of the largest and most successful families of beetles in the world. They comprise more than 40,000 named species. More than 30% of species are forest dwellers, the other 70% in general prefer grass lands and gardens, most are flightless and predatory.

Slug Control: Research has found that carabid beetles (adults and larvae) devour large numbers of smaller slugs.
This beetle was introduced to the United states from Europe.
Black ground beetles live under leaves, old logs, and stones. They can be found in moist woods, fields, and gardens.

They can be seen searching for prey, which includes caterpillars, grubs, other species of beetles, fly maggots and pupae, aphids, weevils, earthworms, slugs, snails and other soft-bodied prey.

Common Black Ground Beetles breed in late Summer. The female lays eggs just below the soil surface. Larvae hatch and spend the Winter in the soil.
In early Spring the larvae begin feeding and then turn into pupae. They come out as adult beetles in the Summer.
Some adults may overwinter as well.

Carabidae beetle Hint: Not All beneficial Beetles are Black.

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Why is common sense so uncommon?

7 responses to “Garden Bugs, Know Your Enemy!

  1. You are definitely correct about tilling in cucurbit plants after harvest. Striped cucumber beetles overwinter in the residue. It’s good to chop them up and apply cover crop or chickens.


  2. We have had luck using a solution of water and Dawn dish soap and spraying the squash bugs with it. It’s kept them from killing off our plants.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That red cucumber beetle does look a lot like a ladybug.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Haven’t seen that one up here. I have found encouraging birds like robins to live nearby means your garden gets patrolled and the pests get eaten. Our big pest here is slugs.We have both brown and white ones and they eat everything.

    Liked by 1 person

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