What Are Those Bugs on My Cucumber Plants?

Bugs that feast on the fruits and leaves of cucumber plants can cause a lot of damage, and may even ruin your crop. The second you spot bugs on your cucumber plants; you need to act and implement pest control measures to get rid of them. However, pest control is often only 100% effective when tailored to target a particular species. So, how can you identify the most common cucumber bugs, and how can you stop them from eating your plants?

What are the most common cucumber pests?

Cucumber plant pests are pretty common, but what are the key species to look out for – and how can you get rid of them?

Cucumber beetles

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What are they?

As their name suggests, Cucumber beetles adore cucumbers. These insects lay their eggs near the base of the plant and, as soon as they hatch, the larvae burrow down into the soil to feed on the roots. This can seriously slow the growth of the plant, or even kill it altogether.

Cucumber beetles can also transmit a disease called bacterial wilt to your cucumbers, which causes the plants to wilt and die.

How to identify cucumber beetles

Cucumber beetles are small, six-legged bugs that may have striped, spotted or banded markings. They are black and yellow or yellowish-green in color.

How can you get rid of them?

  • Physically remove the bugs: Inspect your cucumber plants closely and physically remove any beetles you see. Cucumber beetles are tiny, so this can be difficult to do by hand. Instead, place a piece of cardboard beneath the plant and gently wiggle the stem to knock them off, or use rubber gloves with petroleum=jelly coated fingertips to capture the beetles.
  • Use yellow sticky pads: Yellow sticky pads will not only trap and kill cucumber beetles but are also an effective way to monitor their numbers and prevent repeat infestations.
  • Create a physical barrier: Create a physical barrier (like a fabric row cover) to block cucumber beetles from accessing your plants.

Whiteflies

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What are they?

Whiteflies are common greenhouse pests that are often found infesting cucumber plants. They are usually found on the undersides of leaves, where they use their specialized mouthparts to suck sap from the plant. Whiteflies also secrete a sweet, sticky substance called honeydew that can encourage the growth of black sooty mold.

How to identify whiteflies

There are several different species of whitefly, but they all look like tiny, white moths.

Keep in mind!

When inspecting your cucumber plants for whiteflies pay special attention to the underside of leaves, as this is where they feed.

How can you get rid of them?

  • Wash them away: If you see whiteflies on your cucumbers, you can remove large numbers of them by blasting your plant with water. Take them outside and spray them with your garden hose, concentrating on the underside of the cucumber leaves to remove the majority of the bugs.
  • Place yellow sticky traps around your cucumbers: Whiteflies are attracted to the color yellow, so yellow sticky traps work especially well on these insects. Sticky traps can be used both to reduce your whitefly numbers (by trapping and killing them) and also as a monitoring tool.
  • Spread reflective mulch around your cucumbers: Reflective mulches are an effective repellent tool against whiteflies and can help to prevent infestations.

Melon Aphids

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What are they?

There are many different species of aphids, and all may be found on your cucumber plants. One species in particular is especially fond of cucumbers, however, and it’s the melon aphid.

These sap-suckers can do significant damage to your cucumber plants when present in large numbers, causing leaves to wilt, curl and eventually turn brown. Like whiteflies, they also produce honeydew which can contribute to the growth of sooty mold.

How to identify melon aphids

Melon aphids are tiny, pear-shaped aphids with soft bodies. They vary in size but only grow up to 2 mm in length. Melon aphids also vary in color, ranging from yellow in hot, dry climates to green or black in cooler climates. They may also have wings, though wingless varieties are more common.

How can you get rid of them?

  • Encourage populations of natural predators: Aphids have many natural predators, so encouraging populations of these around your cucumbers is a good idea. One example is the ladybug beetle, which can be purchased in large numbers and released into your veggie patch.
  • Spray leaves with soapy water: Insecticidal soap not only kills aphids, but it also leaves behind a residue that can make your plants less attractive to them. Spritz your cucumber leaves with soapy water to remove and prevent melon aphid infestations.

Squash bugs

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What are they?

Squash bugs are a very common pest in vegetable gardens. These sap-sucking insects can cause significant damage to cucumber leaves, causing them to become wilted and brittle. Squash bugs are a serious pest, and their feeding habits often lead to the death of squash, pumpkin, and cucumber plants.

How can you identify squash bugs?

Squash bugs are large insects, which makes them pretty easy to spot. The adults have flattened, dark-colored bodies, and often sport alternating orange and brown stripes. The nymphs are small, with light green bodies and black heads and legs.

How can you get rid of them?

  • Pick them off by hand: Inspect your plants and remove adults, nymphs, and eggs (which are yellow-brown to brick-red in color and laid in clusters). Squash the eggs and drop nymphs and adults into a bucket of soapy water to kill them.
  • Squash them: Squash bugs hide under leaf debris on the ground overnight; a habit that you can use to your advantage when controlling them. Lay out pieces of cardboard or newspaper around your plants and leave them overnight, then stand on them in the morning to squish any squash bugs that may be lurking underneath.

Conclusion

Garden and greenhouse pests will often attack cucumbers and can cause extensive damage to the fruits and leaves of your plants.

In order to save your salad, you need to first identify the culprits. Cucumber beetles, squash bugs, whiteflies, and aphids are among the most common bugs found on cucumber plants, and each requires a slightly different method of control.

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