Indoor cucumber beetle infestation
September 27, 2016 10:08 AM   Subscribe

How do I get rid of a cucumber beetle infestation -- in my living room?

A week or two I noticed a growing population of what I'm relatively sure are cucumber beetles, in my living room. I'm killing 6-8 a day (and missing who knows how many more).

I've now read that cucumber beetles can overwinter inside walls. I've only been in this place for a few months, so I suspect that they've been in the wall all this time and are now reaching the crawling/flying stage of their life cycle. The exterior wall has a large window that runs the length of the wall, and they seem to be originating from there. I don't see any on the outside of the house, so I think they have to be starting out inside.

What's the safest and least toxic way to get rid of them? I have two indoor cats -- and one of those cats and I both have asthma. My best idea so far is spreading diatomaceous earth along the windowsill and inside the tracks of the two windows that open, but I have one cat who spends a lot of time on that windowsill and am concerned about her breathing it in.

Please help me de-beetle. The biggest annoyance is that they smell really, really bad when you get within sniffing distance of them, so the cats won't eat them. If they were tastier I probably wouldn't be asking this question.
posted by mudpuppie to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Do you have indoor plants? Do you have a composter near a wall? They need some food source so that is what you need to go after.
posted by srboisvert at 11:13 AM on September 27, 2016

No and no.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:21 PM on September 27, 2016

I haven't dealt with these myself, but here are some ideas.

Can you spend some time watching the window (if you haven't already), to figure out where they come in? If you can see a hole somewhere, patch it? (I suppose you then risk stinky cucumber beetles dying inside your wall...) If you do find a hole, you might consider getting a syringe or something to get diatomaceous earth in there before you seal it up.

Just in case they are originating from outside the wall, it couldn't hurt to treat outside the window with diatomaceous earth. (This article says they tunnel into the earth.)

There are also sticky traps available for sale (apparently they're attracted to color yellow). I suppose there's a risk your cat gets curious and sticks their paw to one of these, but maybe you can hang it out of reach.
posted by purple_bird at 1:23 PM on September 27, 2016

I wonder if those are indeed cucumber beetles. My garden was rife with cucumber beetles this summer and they were yellow with distinct spots, almost like a stretched out yellow ladybug. I understand they can be striped too. Your photo doesn't look like what I had in my garden. I smashed quite a few and I never thought they were especially stinky. They did a number on my pumpkins, cukes and watermelons, but I never saw them indoors or attempting to come indoors.

What you describe sounds more like stink bugs, and the timing is right in my area to see them on window screens trying to get in, but that doesn't look like the kind of stink bugs we get.
posted by kittydelsol at 2:50 PM on September 27, 2016

Yeah, I know stink bugs too, and these aren't stink bugs. Totally different stink, for one thing. And a beetle, not a bug, for another.

I've been watching the window and wall all day and can't figure out where they're coming from. I appreciate the suggestion that destroying their food source would get rid of them, but they don't have a food source in here. In fact, they're clearly trying to get outside by congregating around the windows (and lights). They'll starve eventually, which would be good enough for me if I weren't worried that they'd reproduce in the meantime.

My only hesitance with the cucumber beetle traps, which have a pheromone bait, is that I tried pheromone traps for pantry moths once and I think it did more harm than good by sending them into a reproductive frenzy. :/

The first site purple_bird linked to says "Homemade yellow sticky traps can be made by coating a yellow plastic cup with glue available specifically for this use. For added effect, attach a cotton swab soaked in the oil of clove, cinnamon, cassia, allspice or bay leaf, all of which act as a powerful floral attractant."

I have a whole row of bay trees out back, so I may experiment with herbal warfare.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:37 PM on September 27, 2016

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