As Arizona’s monsoon weather patterns draw to a close between the end of August and the beginning of September, Tucson’s insect population reaches its peak. Every insect pest from every other gardener’s plot has had all summer to reproduce and delights in finding a new habitat to call home. Unfortunately, many local gardeners either don't know what to look for or do not tend to their garden often enough to notice the insects destroying their gardens - because there are always plenty of insect pests to deal with in the Tucson city limits.
|The Mexican Bean Beetle|
Along with a variety of cucumber beetles (which come in all colors and patterns) this summer the monsoon winds have brought another unwelcome guest to my garden: the Mexican Bean Beetle. My experience with this pest has led me to believe that this beetle prefers sweet potato vines over beans, melons, or squash – but that it will go after any or all of these plants if given a chance.
|Mexican Bean Beetle Nymph|
Although my sweet potato vines have more to fear from my beloved children tromping through them than from a little beetle, I have no intention of making this insect a reoccurring visitor to my garden.
|Mexican Bean Beetle Larva|
The beetles look similar to ladybird beetles, but are much larger, with an orange coloration. Their clumsy and slow habit leads me to believe that, like horse lubber grasshoppers, that they may be poisonous. I kill or remove as many as I can, as I find them, though they do tend to live beneath the leaves – which makes them nearly impossible to find among the sweet potato vines.
|Mexican Bean Beetles should be renamed Sweet Potato Beetles!|
So – if you happen to see one of these beetles roaming around in your garden please don’t pass it off as a ladybug. Eliminating menacing insects not only helps you, but is an invaluable benefit for all the gardeners who live around you. I can only hope other gardeners in Tucson take note.