Cucumbers are faced with a number of pests and diseases that can cause you to lose the entire crop. Worms can bore small holes
Holes in cucumbers are mainly caused by pickle worms which tend to burrow into the fruit leaving holes in their trail. Fungal or bacterial diseases often develop once entry has occurred. Pickle worms are the larval stage of the pickleworm moth. Once inside, the larvae can fully devour the fruit then attack the vines.
In this article, we will let you know what can cause holes in cucumbers and what you can do to protect your cucumber plant from deadly bugs.
What Causes Holes in Cucumbers?
Drought Conditions (Lack of watering)
Holes can be caused by improper irrigation, pests, insects, and inadequate pollination.
Holes in cucumbers can also be caused by a lack of water. According to the University of Illinois Extension, lack of water causes holes in cucumber which also affects the taste of cucumber.
During drought conditions the cucumber will go into a restricted growth, when water is applied afterwards, such as when rain falls the cucumber plant will take a lot of water causing rapid growth.
This is also typical for backyard farmers who for some reason, forget to water the plant for some time. The plants become so thirsty that when water is finally applied, the plant absorbs a great deal causing a growth spurt.
Do not apply a great deal of water if the plant was not watered for tome time. Apply small amounts each watering until the amount of water applied is back to a normal amount.
These growth spurts causes the hollow spaces or voids inside the fruit.
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Inadequate pollination can be caused by different factors. Some include the absence of inadequate pollinators like bees, insects which results in bad seed formation.
Damage to flowers by insects and poor weather can also cause holes in cucumbers. Insects of different varieties attack the plant which produces little holes in the flesh part of the cucumber.
Furthermore, holes in cucumbers can also be caused by an improper transfer of pollen grains.
Bugs That Eat Cucumbers
Different bugs including pickle worms, cucumber beetle, squash beetle, squash vine borer target the cucumber plant. All these bugs and worms love cucumbers as it is their favorite dish upon which they feed on.
Down below, we have mentioned the most common pests that can dramatically affect cucumbersâ€™ growth, shape, and taste.
Diaphania nitidalis, the pickleworm, is a serious agricultural pest insect in the family Crambidae. It damages squash primarily, but it is also a common pest of other cucurbits such as cucumbers and melons. It is a tropical species which can be found in the southern United States. Wikipedia
These worm are somewhat similar to the wireworms that also causes holes in potatoes. They both are in the larvae stage of development.
According to the research of late professor, George Edwin Gould stripes cucumber beetles were the deadliest known worms found on earth. This pest causes damage worth $650,000 in Indiana. And till now, this bug is a big problem in the production of cucumbers.
Striped cucumber beetles affect the plant in three ways.
- It usually feeds on plants. Especially the small seedlings.
- The larvae eat the roots of the cucumber plant.
- And spreading in bulk quantities of causal organisms.
These small, soft-bodied insects tend to feed more on young, tender parts of cucumbers causing the plant to appear wrinkly or deformed. Aphids that mostly attack cucumbers are black and green in color.
However, some aphids may also be red, yellow, lavender, pink, or gray in color. All varieties of aphids are visible to the naked eye and, therefore, can be identified easily.
The next most common pests affecting cucumber are spider mites. They are quite dangerous for cucumbers growing in hot, dry conditions.
Spider mites can dramatically damage your cucumber plant as they are sapsuckers.
Spider mites can cause shunt growth or can even kill your cucumber plant. Due to their tiny size, spider mites can go unnoticed until your cucumber leaves start to appear pale yellow.
These bugs can easily be controlled by using organic or inorganic pesticides or using trap crops, row covers, etc.
Try another very effective product for pest control
Lizards are also a known pest of cucumbers which can devastate an entire cucumber crop by eating both leaves and flowers. See a our detailed post on having lizards in the garden and how to control them.
Mechanical Methods of Pest Control
Different tactics can be used to avoid the bugs from getting near to your plant. Down below, we have mentioned a few of them.
Yellow Sticky Traps
You can place yellow sticky traps near the plant which will help you to catch bugs and beetles which cause holes in the cucumber.
After successfully capturing the bug, dust the plant thoroughly with diatomaceous earth to kill the sediment.
A technique called â€œBug Nettingâ€ proves to be effective to protect the plant from harmful insects or pests. Bug netting acts as a protective barrier.
This meshed cloth is very effective in keeping deadly bugs and worms like cucumber beetles and aphids away from plants.
Bugs usually attack young plants because the roots and stems of young plants are soft. So, bugsâ€™ main target is to enter the body of easy predators.
Sacrificial Crop Method
Another best way to keep away the bugs from your plant is using Trap Crops ( sacrificial crops). It acts just as bait.
A trap crop is a plant that you grow in your garden to attract the pests away from the actual crop you are growing.
Row covers have also proven a good source of protection against deadly insects.
Row covers are used in gardens and yards and contain a transparent or gossamer or translucent material which is used as a covering to protect the plants from undesirable conditions made from harmful pests and bugs.
There are different types of row covers available in the market. You can purchase the row cover which is suitable for your plant.
See our article on whether flat rows or raised rows are better for crops.
A wide variety of organic and inorganic pesticides are commonly used to kill harmful cucumber pests.
These pesticides and insecticides are not harmful to plants and cause no other damage. You can buy these from any online website like Amazon, eBay, Ali baba, etc., with no effort.
Organic Chemical Pesticide
Some best organic pesticides which can safely be used are given below
- Rotenone( also occur naturally in seed and stems of some plants)
- Neem oil
- Diatomaceous earth etc.
Inorganic Chemical Pesticides
In addition to organic pesticides, inorganic ones are also beneficial to the cucumber plant and help in killing many bugs. A few inorganic pesticides are:
- Copper sulfate
- Ferrous sulfate and copper.
DIY Organic Insecticide Soap To Get Rid of Bugs
Organic insecticide soap is a perfect way to get rid of squash bugs. This is a remedy which you can make at home.
Just mix your handmade spray with mild liquid soap and spray on dirty insects. Just in few seconds, you will find them dead.
Scan Mask To Get Rid of Bugs
In addition to the above DIY organic insecticide soap, a Scan mask is also a perfect product to get rid of all types of worms. It is an organic product that has advantageous nematodes.
These nematodes not only help you to get rid of worms but also cut nettles from your plant and over two hundred pests.
By using this organic product, your plant and garden are pretty much free from harmful insects.
You can find it on amazon by clicking here.
Not all insects are harmful to cucumbers. Some are beneficial for cucumbers as they help cucumbers to eradicate their enemy bugs.
Ladybugs and minute pirate bugs are beneficial insects.
You can use both of these beneficial insects to get rid of deadly pests.
Should Cucumber Be Planted on The Ground or on a Trellis?
Most gardeners grow cucumbers on the ground. However, growing them on the ground as compared to growing cucumbers on a trellis can promote disease and attract many potential bugs and worms.
Although cucumbers can grow well in the ground as well, they twine best with trellises. Trellises not only save garden space but also encourage cucumber growth and allow the fruit to stay bug-free.
Trellises grown cucumbers stay cleaner and saved from any potential bug or worm, especially cucumber beetles.
Trellis is a light framework of wood or metal bars that can be used as a support for plants like bales, and aids in climbing.
Growing cucumbers on trellises also improve the airflow for the plant and minimize the powdery mildew diseases as well.
Furthermore, trellis makes weeding easier. However, keep in mind that, whether you cultivate cucumber plants on a trellis or the ground, proper attention and care should be given to them.
See our article 15 easy to grow climbing vegetables.
Can I Eat Cucumbers With Holes in Them?
Eating a cucumber with holes in it will not affect your diet. But you will experience a slight change in the taste of cucumber.
Cucumber with holes in it is slightly bitter as compared to normal cucumber. Off flavor is never noticed. This slight effect will not affect your bowls of salad.