insect control on beans

west9491(6)May 7, 2010

I sowed some bush beans a few weeks ago, and they've come up. But they're being eaten by insects pretty quick. there are tiny holes all over the leaves, and so far i have only found a couple different bugs: they look like lady bugs, but they're not round, they're more slender. But they're orange with black dots on their back, and some are green with black dots.

I'm looking for the best organic solution. thanks.

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ok, i think i found at least one of the culprits. The "bean leaf beetle". now, how do i attack?

these are a lil more difficult than the potato beetle, which was my only real problem last year.

oh yah, and i think i got aphids on my tomatoes.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 7:32PM
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I have only used dirty dish soap and lady bugs so far this year on my garden. My radishes and brocoli got tore up by tiny caterpillars which I still squish on a daily basis. I now have stink bugs which I am now squishing thier eggs and capturing their parents to drown. and the lady bugs have completely controlled any aphids I have!I dont know about the beetle but you could look it up on an entemology website, learn about its lifecycle and see where you could interupt it. Let me know what you find out cause I have blue lake bean bushes and so far they are bug free! knock on wood (or bamboo for you tree huggers!)LOL!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2010 at 11:10AM
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You can also use mineral oil, vegetable oil, or proprietary oils such as those made with cottonseed oil...or you can try this formula: put a whole garlic bulb through a garlic press and let it sit in a glass jar with several ounces of mineral or salad oil then, mix a few spoonfuls with dishwashing liquid, hot pepper sauce and water in a spray bottle....this all natural spray should help keep your garden pest free ;)

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 6:35AM
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here's something else i've found: companion planting.
Onions, potatoes, radishes have all been noted to repel BLB's. While marigolds and petunias can repel Mexican bean leaf beetles.

Also, I'm noticing a lot of small spiders in my garden, I would think that these are a good thing right? As they are predatory and may be helping me thin them out?

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 8:49AM
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susan2010(6 Massachusetts)

Someone on the Vegtable forum posted that she planted radishes near her beans and the flea beetles were leaving the bean alone and eating the radish greens.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2010 at 4:42PM
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novice_2009(zone 6b)

Good idea about radishes. I think they make a good alternative for hungry flea beetles, and grow quickly, so many can be planted and harvested.
Love the idea of companion planting.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 12:42PM
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alouwomack(Zone 7)

The radishes and bean companion thing is not helping my beans or radishes . . . the flea beatles are happily hanging out like they don't mind the radishes at all :(

I hope it helps you though! Let us know if you see improvement.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 5:48PM
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alouwomack(Zone 7)

Sorry I meant to say the flea beetles are hanging out on the beans...not the radishes :(

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 5:51PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


I don't think all radishes attract flea beetles, but the ones I planted were White Icicle radishes. Here's what they looked like right next to my beans, no farther away than three inches:

There's hardly a flea beetle hole in any of my beans at all. I'd planted the White Icicle radishes after reading that they repel Mexican Bean beetles, so this was a serendipitous discovery on my part. By the time I realized what had happened, the flea beetles were gone.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 9:12PM
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If this wee beetle bears a striking resemblance to the Lady Beetle, Lady Bug, it is a member of that family, the black sheep, called the Mexican Bean Beetle.
Control can be difficult but starts with keeping the wee buggers away from your crop. Planting a trap crop of soybeans can help, covering the growing plants with floating row covers is another option although that does limit access to the plants by pollinators, spraying with Neem Oil or pyrethrin based products may be necessary, however both of those are also known to harm the insects that predate the MBB.

Here is a link that might be useful: About the Mexican Bean Beetle

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 7:17AM
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yeah, make sure you I.D. the bug, also look up the bean leaf beetle, that's my culprit. And if you live in the south, you are susceptible to them too.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 6:42PM
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alouwomack(Zone 7)


I'm so glad I saved this thread. I feel like a real dumby. It was like the evening after I added my ten cents to this radish/bean thing, that I discovered the flea beetles "going to town" on the radish greens in my garden! I am still finding a few on the beans but its not bad comparatively speaking.

((I looked like a lunatic after dark with my headlight on, smashing flea beetles, along with a few spotted cucumber beetles too! My neighbors surely wonder about me.))

Your pic is awesome! I only planted my radishes for my husband so I didn't pay much attention to what kind they are; I'll check the seed packet & I'll be looking into finding some of the variety you mentioned for the fall.

Is it normal for the beetles to go away before the growing season is over? My beans are just starting to make baby pods and the radished aren't looking much better than yours now! I'm worried they'll transition to the beans after the radishes are gone. My husband planted more seed a while back but the seedlings are being ravaged by the beetles too!

Sorry again for the poor advice. I was proven wrong in my own backyard!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 10:43PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


I think I recall that someone said Cherry Belle was another radish variety that flea beetles gravitate to, so if they're flocking to whatever kind of radish you have, your variety will do as well! I think flea beetles appear in several generations during the growing season so tend to appear in waves that wax and wane. I've broadcast more of the radishes wherever possible to prepare for the next wave.

I haven't yet figured out a way to dispatch flea beetles, to tell the truth. I thought if I just kept the radishes far enough away from the crops I want to keep unchewed, that would be enough, but I'm not sure that's right. If I can do away with a lot of them, they won't be around to reproduce and sooner or later be overwhelming.

I did find this information about how to control them: How to Get Rid of Flea Beetles. Oils and extracts like Neem, Sabadilla, Rotenone, and Pyrethrins are considered to be the more effective botanical pesticides labeled for use on flea beetles. Mixed with an oil, as suggested by the ATTRA, botanicals like rotenone can be almost 100% effective at killing flea beetles when sprayed on infested plants.

The author also suggests that Diatomaceous earth will repel flea beetles from the plants you want to save.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:05PM
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well, the conversation has evolved to the subject of flea beetles. Which, to me, is great. It gave me the idea to check for them myself.....yup i got 'em.

I would like to know more about how neem oil works. Does it attack the insect? and if so, is it only effective if the spray makes contact with the bugs???

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 1:00AM
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alouwomack(Zone 7)

Sorry to derail you West . . . your beans turned out to have flea beetles though?

Since I first attributed to this message, I read somewhere that people just sprinkle plain old white flour on the beans (or any plant) to deter the flea beetles. I've not tried this myself but it might be worth a try. In the meanwhile, my flea beetles have calmed down for now. I'm sure they're working on reproducing the next round as I type!

The neem oil is known to be very effective, however, I think its hard on good bugs too? Anyone please correct me if I'm mistaken. Any search online for neem oil should gather you tons of information to read about it.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2010 at 10:18PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Of all of the chemicals mentioned by anney, neem poses the LEAST problem for non-target insects. Neem needs to be ingested in order to be effective. It also acts as an anti-feedant. Avoid using neem on flowers...only the foliage.

The other three pesticides are considered broad spectrum chemicals. Rotenone is the most toxic of the lot, and probably won't be on the market a great deal longer.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 5:32AM
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I've never had flea beetles until this year; mine are only targeting the eggplants. Well, this is an experimental year at the the new house, so now I know that next year I need row covers for my eggplant.

An application of neem a week ago erradicated the beetles from the two smallest seedlings, who were scarcely an inch and a half tall and in the most need of protection. They are sending out new leaves and recouperating.

The largest seedling at 5" tall still has a few beetles on it, but they are very slow moving. We have had a good wet rain since I applied the neem, but it seems to still be working. These beetles don't act healthy.

Is anyone aware of any beneficials which feast on flea beetles in particular? I do have chickadees in residence, but they are in the front yard. They are sitting on eggs (the nest is on my front porch!), so hopefully I have some hungry youngsters on the way.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 8:01AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

This site has this to say. Insect repellents that contain garlic, mint, or hot peppers have shown potential in reducing the amount of feeding done by adult flea beetles on plants sprayed with these repellents. Note that these oils will degrade quickly outside, so you will have to reapply them on a fairly regular basis...

Maybe this is one of the better quick-fixes if it works to repel them. The beetles do appear and disappear in waves throughout the season, so something short-term to deal with them on an immediate basis might just fit the bill.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 8:25AM
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Dan Staley

Anney's quote is why I put powdered chili pepper in my soap spray.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 10:23AM
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anney(Georgia 8)


The powdered "chili" in my kitchen cabinet? I have some that's labeled as "hot".

    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 10:31AM
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Dan Staley

Yup. The cheapie stuff in the spice rack, not the good stuff out of the garden.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2010 at 1:13PM
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I've flea beetles on radishes, tomatoes, etc but not in any numbers on beans. Anney, your radish damage looks like slugs, flea beetles drill lots of circular holes and leave something that looks like lace. I heard that wood ashes around the plants helps, but of course that would majorly affect the pH.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2010 at 9:43PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


Thanks. You could be right. As I said, I didn't actually see the insects causing the damage. But if it's slugs, why didn't they damage the beans? I concluded it was flea beetles because I know they prefer radishes to beans but I didn't know slugs did.

But I'll change my mind about the culprit here. Flea beetles make a hole, move on a bit, and make the next hole. That's why the damage is called shotgunning. That isn't the pattern on my radishes. Slug damage does cause that kind of raggedy-hole damage.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2010 at 6:43AM
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