Bacterial Wilts Information
By Josie Borlongan, Garden Guides Contributor
About Bacterial WiltsBacterial wilts are carried by an insect pest, the cucumber beetle, which injects the wilt disease as it feeds. The bacterium that causes bacterial wilts is called Erwinia tracheiphila. Bacterial wilts can cause drying of leaves that makes the plant look like it needs water, but suspect bacterial infection if the soil is moist and the leaves are still wilted.
Prevention and ControlTo prevent bacterial wilts from further spreading in the garden, it is necessary to control the population of the cucumber beetles by using insecticides. Bacterial wilts can be prevented by planting less susceptible cucurbit cultivars.
DamageBacterial wilts happen when there is mechanical blockage of the water transport system. Wilting of leaves is the characteristic symptom, appearing after five days of infection. The infection then spreads down the runner, infecting the entire plant, which then causes the plant to die. The bacterium E. tracheiphila causes the sap to become sticky in consistency with a milky color.
Predator InsectsPredatory insects such as Tachinid flies are known to attack cucumber beetles that carry the bacteria that cause bacterial wilts.
Natural InsecticidesCopper, which is a natural mineral, can be applied as dust or foliar spray to prevent the spread of the bacteria causing bacterial wilt.
Other Methods of Control* Apply pyrethrin-containing insecticides directly to host plants and keep the cultivated areas free of litter and debris of infested plants and help in controlling the cucumber beetle population.
* Try companion planting, such as a combination of tansy and radishes. The pungent aroma of tansy confuses and repels cucumber beetles, while radishes lure them away from vine crops.