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Cucumber pests: Which are the most common and how you can recognize and fight them

Cucumbers are one of the best summer vegetable crops, because they are easy to grow, versatile and delicious. Cucumber plants are very productive, but even the most experienced gardener can encounter pests that affect the harvest. Cucumber pests can seriously threaten your plants and not only reduce yield, but even kill the plants. That’s why it’s important to know what pests you may face and how to deal with them. Here are the most common types you should be on the lookout for.

Cucumber pests to watch out for

Aphids threaten your cucumber plants

Use these tips to control aphids on cucumbers

Aphids are small insects with soft bodies that like to hang out on the underside of the leaves and stems of plants. Most aphids are green or yellow, while others are pink, brown, red or black. In small numbers, aphids cause few problems, but heavy infestations result in yellow or deformed leaves, necrotic spots on leaves, or stunted growth. Aphids also release a sticky, sugary substance called honeydew. This substance attracts ants and encourages sooty mold, which causes a black coating on all plants.

Cucumber pests - which are the most common

Dealing with aphids
Here are some suggestions for controlling aphids.

  • If plants are robust and healthy, spray them with a strong stream of water to drive aphids from the leaves.
    Cut back branches and leaves that are heavily infested with aphids.
  • Try spreading reflective mulch materials, such as silver-colored plastic, around the base of your plants to discourage aphids from landing on and feeding on your plants.
    In extreme cases, insecticides are needed to treat the problem. Use organic remedies such as insecticidal soap or neem oil.

How to fight aphids with natural means, you can read here !

Cucumber beetles feed on plants

Cucumber beetles feed on cucumber plants

One of the most difficult cucumber pests to control are cucumber beetles. Depending on where you live, you will be faced with one of these two species:

  • Striped salad cucumber beetles (Acalymma vittatum).
  • Spotted cucumber beetles (Diabrotica undecimpunctata).

These two species feed on cucumber plants and eat holes in the leaves and flowers of your plant. The larvae feed on the plant roots. Cucumber beetles cause a variety of symptoms and problems, some of which are similar to bacterial wilt. Examples of symptoms caused by cucumber beetles include:

  • Stunted seedlings and growth.
  • Damaged leaves, stems or petioles
  • Reduced vigor of the plant
  • Scars on the fruit

Cucumber pests can seriously threaten your plants

How to get rid of cucumber beetles
Controlling cucumber beetles is challenging, but there are a few things you can do.

  • Plant beetle-resistant varieties. Two options are ‘Saladin’ and ‘Gemini,’ both of which are excellent.
  • Cover the plants with a floating row cover after the seeds germinate until flowering. Then remove it so pollinators have access to your plants.
  • Catch the beetles with yellow sticky traps. But be careful. This method also traps pollinators and beneficial insects.

Cutworms are also among the pests of cucumbers

Cutworms are also among the cucumber pests

Cutworms destroy the stems of young plants or seedlings and cause irregular holes on the surface of the plants. The larvae are active at night and hide during the day, so it is difficult to detect these pests. They hide in the soil or in the plant debris. When found, they usually curl up in a C-shape when disturbed.

These pests attack a number of vegetables, including but not limited to cucumbers. Cutworms also infest asparagus, beans, cabbage, carrots, peas and peppers .

Cutworms infest a number of vegetables, including cucumber plums

How to get rid of cutworms.

  • Place a plastic or foil collar around plant stems, extending three inches into the soil and three inches above the ground.
  • Go into your garden at night and pick off any larvae you find by hand.
  • Spread diatomaceous earth around the base of your plant. Diatomaceous earth creates a sharp, uncomfortable barrier for larvae to crawl over and cut off.
  • If the infestation is severe, insecticides can be applied to the infested areas.

Flea beetles are tiny pests of cucumbers

Flea beetles are tiny pests of cucumbers

Flea beetles are tiny pests that are about 1.5 to 3 mm long and dark in color. They often have a shiny, iridescent carapace. These pests get their name from the fact that they jump like fleas when disturbed, which earned them the name flea beetle. Young plants are more susceptible to flea beetles than mature plants; older plants can usually handle a flea beetle infestation. These pests leave small holes or pits in the leaves, and the damage can result in impaired plant growth. If the infestation is severe, the plants will die.

Cucumber plants are very productive

How to get rid of flea beetles

  • Using floating row covers before infestations can help prevent flea beetles from emerging.
  • Plant trap crops nearby as a preventative; crucifers attract flea beetles the most.
  • Place a layer of mulch under your plants to prevent them from reaching the soil surface.
  • Use diatomaceous earth or neem oil as an effective population control measure.

How to plant cucumbers in a pot, find out here !