The Pickleworm Has Arrived


Hmmm, what is this gooey clearish gunk on my cucumbers? It seems to be coming out of this little hole…

pickleworm frass

There’s a worm on my cucumber!!

pickleworm on cucumber

It can be a bit disconcerting to decide to enjoy one of  your fresh cucumbers and discover that a caterpillar beat you to it.

The first sign that you have a pickleworm problem is the clearish frass (technical term for poop).

There are some ways to deal with these freeloaders, though.

1. Super Organic: Eat the cucumber, worms and all. Embrace your inner insectivorous self.

2. Mildly Organic: Wash the cucumber and cut off the wormy part. If you harvest your cucumbers little and often, they will not have gotten very far into the cuke. Slice it up and serve in a Fresh Cucumber Tomato Salad with Basil.

To prevent the moths from laying eggs on them again, you can cover them with netting at night (when the moths are actively laying eggs) and remove it early morning so the bees can pollinate the crop

Alternatively, my Michelle from Pensacola Permaculture said that she had good results from rubbing off the faded flower once the cuke had been pollinated.

3. Organic: Spray with neem oil. For more organic ideas, including this one, click here.

4. Not Very Organic: Spray plants with Drano. Unfortunately, this method renders the cucumber unfit for human consumption, kills the host plant, and it is not recommended that you even attempt to grow anything in that spot ever again.

5. Fit of Rage Revenge: Drench cucumbers in liquid radioactive waste. Not for amateurs. Very effective against those caterpillars, but seldom used due to going-to-jail concerns. Don’t garden in that block ever again, even if you don’t go to jail or die from the radiation yourself.

How do you deal with pickleworms in your cucumbers?

Personally, I just cut off the affected part and eat the rest. Apparently they migrate, and so if your plants survive through the infestation, you should get more once they move north.

I’ve had my fair share of them this year, and have still had enough to make some amazing refrigerator dill pickles!


2 responses »

  1. How many cucumber plants do you have? This is my third (?) attempt at cukes down here, and I seem to have the worst luck. I don’t get nearly enough to make pickles, and some of them turn into those weird half-pollinated cucumber balls. Granted, I don’t think the fact that my neighbor has hired a guy to come spray her yard with pesticides every two weeks is helping my pollinator situation either 😦

    • I have about 34 cucumber plants. I plant my cucumbers as early as I can in the spring so I can get cucumbers before the pests get them and before the powdery mildew kills them in the summer humidity. Yes, the pesticide being sprayed next door can definitely affect your situation as well. Try planting flowers around them to attract pollinators and natural predators.

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