Monday, May 2, 2011

Cucumber Beetles

Elevenspotted Cucumber beetle (Diabrotica undecimpunctata)

Cucumber beetles are beautiful little creatures. Unfortunately, they love to munch on all varieties of cucurbits (cucumbers, gourds, squashes, melons, pumpkins, etc.)...and anything else they happen to land on apparently. Early on Saturday morning, Nathanael and I found them on the tomatoes, peppers, corn, beets, basil, peas...everything really. So despite how interesting they are whether spotted...

Striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittata)

or striped...

Banded cucumber beetle (Diabrotica balteata)

...or banded, (and all of them fast moving and attempting to escape the paparazzi), we had to do something about the thousands of them crawling around. 
So we did...we squished them. After about twenty minutes of doing it by hand, I said to myself, "If only we could vacuum them up." And then I remembered that Nathanael could with his entomology aspirator! So for about an hour more, Nathanael used that and I continued to turn my hands yellow and sticky. And you know what? I didn't mind at all, in fact I enjoyed it. Not because I enjoy killing, but I liked the idea that we were dealing with them ourselves and not in a way that will leave residue in our systems. (I was also glad they were pretty, unlike black aphids which aren't as interesting to squish.)

After all, I need to keep these cucumber plants alive and thriving.

Because cucumbers are wonderful. I can't wait to share them, and to make Greek food, and Refrigerator Pickles. This one will be ready before long...if the beetles can be fended off. Luckily once the morning had fully broken, the beetles started flying and the dragonflies came swooping in to devour them. Yes! I knew I liked dragonflies.

In other garden news, the basil thinks it is at home in Italy.

And this awesome beetle is sitting around looking like a space warrior.
I think this is the most amazing looking creature! (Nathanael told me what it was, but I don't recall...I may update with that info later.)

This caterpillar we found in the citrus trees (a pest to them), the orange dog swallowtail (Papilionidae Papilio), is disguised as a bird dropping and has retractable angry eyebrows, which pop out when you touch it and release a musky scent. Its scent apparently repels ants and flies which may want to bother it...but I just wanted to see its flashy accesories.

Amazing, no?

I have never been afraid of insects, but I am really coming to appreciate just how amazing and majestically they are crafted.

  How many are your works, LORD!
   In wisdom you made them all;
   the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
   teeming with creatures beyond number—
   living things both large and small. 

 There the ships go to and fro,
   and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
  All creatures look to you
   to give them their food at the proper time.
 When you give it to them,
   they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
   they are satisfied with good things. 

 When you hide your face,
   they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
   they die and return to the dust.
 When you send your Spirit,
   they are created,
   and you renew the face of the ground. 

Psalm 104: 24-30


  1. oh my goodness, how wonderful and amazing....I do understand they can't eat in the garden good for our eats...thanks so much for sharing such awesome photos...hope your week is awesome!

    enjoy *~*

  2. They are so cute! I'm sad you had to squish them with your hand (and a little grossed out). I hope your cucumbers turn out well.

  3. Bugs are so cool. The blue beetle is particularly great!

  4. Wow, how fascinating!! Especially the one that looks like bird poo! :) Your garden looks great... hope you can keep ahead of those crazy beetles!

  5. i love your photos. i'm especially taken by the blue and orange space warrior beetle.

  6. I've always loved insects, I'm loving the great macro photos and scientific names here!

  7. I found your blog when I joined the NH Etsy team and I love your variety of posts. Insects are not my favorites, I like birds so much more but they are a testimony to God's great creativeness. I couldn't close my mouth over that
    bird dropping beetle!!! Happy gardening.

  8. Yikes. Glad we didn't find any of those little critters. Our cucumbers are just starting out...maybe the friendly frog will protect our harvest:


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