University of Maryland Extension: Garden Q&A
Q: Last year my cucumber plants looked good, then collapsed. Didn’t get a single cucumber! Saw a couple of cucumber beetles, that’s all. What did I do wrong?
A: Cucumber beetles transmit bacterial wilt disease to cucumbers, and that killed your cucumbers. Control cucumber beetles from season’s start. In fall or spring, till soil to kill overwintering eggs and larvae.
Use floating row cover to shield young plants from beetle bites until bloom begins, then you must remove the row cover to allow insects to pollinate the cucumbers. Older plants are less susceptible to the wilt.
Handpicking the beetles is difficult because they are fast and drop or hide when disturbed. You can spray with spinosad, pyrethrum, or neem products—all organic. Planting late, after June 15, also helps plants voids the pest to some degree.
Q: We’ve lived in this house 22 years and never had a camel cricket problem until two years ago. They live around a basement entrance. We water-sealed the bricks and used sticky traps, but they keep coming back. The area is kept very clean. What else can we do?
A: All crickets are attracted to light. Have you gotten in the habit of leaving on an outside light? Many other pest insects are attracted to lights, including wasps, earwigs, sod webworm, codling moth, and the new brown marmorated stink bug, to name a few. So we really recommend not leaving outdoor lights on at night.
Crickets like moisture, darkness, and primarily feed on organic matter. Is something making the area more moist? Tree shade increases, grades change (soil can sink or be washed away), and down spouts shift. What else has changed in the past 22 years? More shrubs and groundcover, mulch? Prune and pull back plants to dry soil and reduce organic debris. Here’s our website pub on crickets: www.hgic.umd.edu/_media/documents/el50_000.pdf