What is eating at my cucumber plants?

Justine66(10B)September 14, 2011

Good Morning.

This is a first post for me. I've been reading here for about a year, since my gardening journey began.

I am growing cucumbers, pole beans and squash for the first time. There is a small green caterpillar eating my plants, mostly the cucumber plants. Some are yellow when they are very small and measure less than a quarter inch. I found one today that was about a half inch. Is there a simple way to upload pictures to this forum? I took some pics this morning, and will gladly post them if someone could please help me.

I am discouraged because most google searches I do say that if my plants were healthy, I wouldn't have pests. But, I have pests!

My questions would be: What are these pests? I have been pulling them off by hand (as I do not use pesticides). What brings them? Are they just a natural part of a garden? Is there anything else I can do organically to control them? And finally, my plants LOOK healthy to me (other than where they are getting eaten) so what have I done wrong, and how can I do it better next time?

Thanks so much in advance for your reply.

Justine

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amberroses(10a)

I am discouraged because most google searches I do say that if my plants were healthy, I wouldn't have pests-Those people probably live in California.

What are these pests? Google "pickle worm" and see if that's what you have on your plants.

What brings them? your cucumbers

Are they just a natural part of a garden? Yes, if it has cucumbers in it and it's in Florida

Is there anything else I can do organically to control them? Bt or Spinosad, but use Spinosad carefully to avoid harming bees. It is hard to kill them when they burrow in the fruit though.

What have I done wrong? Nothing that except you planted cucumbers.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 9:59AM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Q: What have I done wrong? A: Nothing that except you planted cucumbers.

Boy, isn't that the truth Amber. From now on I'm growing nothing but parthenocarpic cukes INSIDE the pool cage to keep the pickleworm out. I got some of those stockings like Silvia uses but I'm just too lazy to use them :-(

Tom

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 12:57PM
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amberroses(10a)

I wish I could grow mine in a greenhouse or pool cage, but I don't have any of those :( The stocking method is labor intensive for cucumbers because there are so many of them, but I do use it on melons.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2011 at 1:26PM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

Justine,

Are they eating the cucumbers or the leaves? Are they rolling up inside the leaf? If so, pick them off and squish. Better yet, pick them off before they hatch.

~dianne

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 2:22PM
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Justine66(10B)

Yes, Dianne. They are eating the leaves. They are rolling up in the leaves, too. I have been picking and squishing.:)What do they look like before they hatch? I have only found the caterpillar/worms. Some are very tiny.
Thank you all for your help.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 8:50AM
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Justine66(10B)

I could not figure out how to post pictures, so what I did is this. I have a personal blog (not just for gardening, though I do often post pictures there). I posted the pictures of this pest this morning. I also posted a picture of my bean leaves that are shriveling and my passionflower vine that died in two days. Please, if you have time, look at them. Any input is greatly appreciated! I truly love gardening but it doesn't come easy to me, so it's quite an accomplishment to get anything to grow. When it dies, it bums me out! I have visions of one day being able to grow most of my own veggies. Good thing there are grocery stores now, though, or I'd starve to death.:)
I'm posting my link below. Hope it works.
Wsrmly,
Justine

Here is a link that might be useful: My blog

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 9:12AM
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amberroses(10a)

Melonworm or Cabbage looper? Bt is the answer for most caterpillar infestations.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 10:19AM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

Justine, healthy plants makes it easier for the plant to shrug off and overcome pests and disease. Baby tomato plants can't shrug it off so easy, and some pests just like to go for the good stuff ... i.e. the new leaf growth or blooms. No blooms means no fruit. As your property becomes more organic, you can have more and more beneficial insects come in. However, your close neighbors can have a negative impact on that.

As you noted, I think you are right that your passion vine death was from herbicide.

Your pole beans, what type/variety? Has the temperature really dropped enough down south for your variety?

The little green worm is the larvae stage of some moth. I'm not sure which. Control is (1) picking (2) spray - BT & Spinosad (3) sticky traps.

Hopefully Silvia will come along and help me out, because I don't know all that much.

Here is what I do, I tour my garden every morning, starting with the baby tomatoes. I'm looking for curled up leaves and sticky stuff sticking leaves and stems together. Sometimes you can see frass (poo-poo) around, and sometimes you can barely see little bitty strands of web stuff gluing the leaf curl. Ideally, I just pick off everything sticky. If the plant is too small, I carefully open up the leaves and stuck together stuff and try to rub off the bad stuff. As the morning progress and the sweat starts rolling on my glasses my ability to see closeup deteriorates. This is when I just start picking. Anything I pick gets taken to the pavement and squished.

PS - Nice blog!

Hope this wall'o'text helps you.

Lessons on Picassa another day. That is where your blogger photos are stored. If you can make your way into Picassa we can probably show you how to get your photos on here.

~dianne

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 8:29PM
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Justine66(10B)

Aww, Dianne,
Thank you so very much for your "wall o text"! It was very helpful.
As far as the worms go, I've been doing exactly what you said and I will keep doing that. I was out late this evening and happened to see a very small red and yellow moth on the underside of one of my leaves. Maybe that is the culprit. I have seen what appears to be some droppings so I need to be more thorough in cleaning that off. I too, try to make my rounds first thing in the morning.
The pole beans are Manoa Wonder beans. They are a Hawaiian variety and supposedly very resistant to many things. Maybe they are not "Justine" resistant.:)
Thank you again, for your help.
PS - I'll try to give Picassa a try. My girls can probably help me. They handle all things "computer" much better than I do.
Warmly,
Justine

    Bookmark   September 16, 2011 at 8:58PM
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