from the July 1997 newsletter
Mexican Bean Beetles (Epilachna varivestis)
Identification: These beetles resemble lady-bugs but tend to be a bit larger, are copper in color, and have 16 dots on their backs. Look for yellow egg clusters under bean leaves and yellow-orange larvae.
Damage: Both beetle and larvae voraciously devour bean leaves and will nibble on beans as well. They can obliterate a bean crop.
Prevention: Interplant potatoes, garlic, cloves, turnips, marigolds, and radishes. If you have a bean beetle problem, avoid its reoccurance next year by removing all dead bean plant material from the garden at the end of the season. DO NOT compost this material.
Control: It’s always best to keep an eye on your plants and catch pests and diseases early. Hand pick beetles and larvae and crush them or put them in kerosene. Look under leaves for eggs and crush them as well. You can also use floating row covers and beneficial nematodes.
Other possibilities: garlic, onion, and pepper juice spray will slow feeding. Lime and soap spray will irritate the beetles; rotenone (organic but very toxic) will kill them. We do not recommend rotenone until all else has failed- use it sparingly and with caution.
Flea Beetles (Phyllotreta striolata)
Identification: These beetles are small (1/4 inch or less), glossy, dark, and they jump. You may notice tiny holes in your plant leaves before you notice the beetles.
Damage: Flea beetles munch on cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant, potato, turnip, and most other garden crops. They eat tiny holes in young leaves and can cause severe damage to young plants. Larvae eat seeds and roots.
Prevention & Control: Weed and cultivate frequently and remove crop remnants from area. Interplant mint (but for other gardeners’ sake don’t let them spread). Plant susceptible crops near shade giving crops as flea beetles are sometimes deterred by shade. The use of floating row covers is also quite effective. If the problem is acute: Use garlic, onion and pepper spray to repel beetles. Dust wet plants and wet ground around them with lime, lime spray or soap (like Dr. Bronners liquid peppermint diluted with water) with lime as a spray.