Aphids on cucumber plants are the reasons of existent diseases, leading to mottled and stunted vegetables. An infestation in your cucumber garden can be due to growing the vegetables in woody and weedy areas, overusing the nitrogen fertilizer, and lack of aphid predators.
You can control these destructive bugs by removing them manually or using biological and chemical methods so read on to learn more.
- Why Do Aphids Attack the Cucumber Plant?
- How To Stop Aphids from Eating Cucumber Plants?
Why Do Aphids Attack the Cucumber Plant?
Aphids attack the cucumber plant because you may have planted them in a woody area or been excessively fertilized with nitrogen. In addition, it can also be caused by the lack of natural predators, or you have planted low-quality cucumber seeds.
– Planting the Crops in Woody Areas
Since there are many reasons for aphid invasion on cucumbers, you must know why the insects are in your garden to get the correct treatment method. Aphids are primarily found in woody areas because of the presence of many trees that attract insects. Having weeds in your cucumber garden will also make it easier for the bugs to attack your cucumbers.
You must also consider that these areas have many aphid-attracting plants and flowers because the plants grow soft and easy-to-feed-on parts by the insects. Others have large leaves that the insects hide, which begins to attract them as much as possible; in the long run, it causes the crops to have hindered growth, or you may see underdeveloped cucumber plants.
You must keep in mind that growing cucumbers near woody areas makes it easier for aphid attacks. Cucumbers have soft parts that the insects’ weak mouth parts can pierce through.
The pesky little bugs initially cause little to no harm, but they reproduce quickly and can destroy your cucumbers. Besides, these bugs transmit the mosaic virus to your cucumbers, which can be greatly problematic if the issue isn’t detected from start.
– Overfertilizing With Nitrogen
Another reason for the infestation of cucumber aphids is overfertilizing the plants with nitrogen. Nitrogen supports the reproduction of these bugs. It also causes new shoots in plants, leaving the insects with an unlimited food supply, but when the fertilization with nitrogen is quite heavy, this will cause the plant to weaken as the infestation grows even more serious.
One of the critical nutrients for the growth of healthy cucumbers is nitrogen, and when you grow them, this notion is one that you would begin to invest in more. However, the nutrient should be moderate, with a higher concentration of phosphorous and potassium.
The nitrogen content in the fertilizer is what helps in the buildup of chlorophyll, a compound that aids in photosynthesis and gives the vegetation a green color. With it, plants can use sunlight to produce energy for cell multiplication, which is the sap the aphids would be after.
The plants can grow at the right pace when there is enough nitrogen. However, too much of the nutrient causes rapid plant growth. This leaves aphids with a constant food supply because they feed on the newly growing plant parts because of their softness and ease of piercing through.
Besides, nitrogen supports the aphid life cycle, promoting insect reproduction. This increases the aphid population, making it harder to control them, and when they begin to be attracted to this element, specifically, they will even grow and increase in their number.
– Lack of Natural Predators
When you have a vegetative garden, you must be mindful that if your place lacks natural aphid predators like ladybugs and rove beetles, you will lack control over insects. Having aphid predators in your garden is one of the ways of controlling aphids.
These are other insects like ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and rove beetles, which feed on the aphids reducing their population. On the contrary, the lack of them, will keep the plants thriving as there aren’t any to feed on them in the long run.
A lack of these tiny yet essential insects can cause fast aphid reproduction in your vegetable garden. You can buy aphid predators and introduce them to your garden. However, ensure you have plants that can house the predators in your garden.
– Planting Low-Quality Cucumber Seeds
One of the ways to ensure you have a hefty and healthy cucumber produce is by choosing the best quality seeds, as you would have them from the beginning. The reason behind it is that the low-quality seeds are susceptible to diseases and attack by insects like aphids, spider mites and squash bugs.
At the same time, the low quality of the cucumber seeds would promote plant stress and cause aphids, and when they grow in weak-looking or stressed features, they attract aphids. Plant stress can be caused by drought, overwatering, and poor climatic conditions. This weakens the plant, making it attractive to the pests and other diseases.
How To Stop Aphids from Eating Cucumber Plants?
To stop aphids from eating cucumber plants is to use a strong stream of water, crush them with your fingers, use insecticidal soap, and introduce suitable predators. Moreover, you can also tackle using neem oil, spraying insecticides, destroying aphid-infested plants, and growing the right companion plant.
Aphids on cucumbers are a nightmare to most farmers because the insects are hard to control. They quickly reproduce, and an increase in their population destroys plants faster. However, you can control the insects using natural, biological, or chemical methods.
– Use a Strong Stream of Water
If you just noticed tiny black bugs on cucumber plants, start controlling them immediately. Spray your garden with a strong stream of water from the garden hose to sweep the destructive insects away. You should remember that aphids are tiny and weak insects, and strong streams of water wash them out and drown them and wash them out.
Ensure you spray the upper and underside of the cucumber leaves to prevent aphid damage. Also, don’t spray the water with very high pressure not to break the plant leaves.
In addition, you should also let the ground dry before the next water spray to not cause overwatering to your cucumbers. Using streams of water is an aphid cultural control and does not have side effects.
– Crush Aphids Between Fingers
Another natural method to stop aphid spread on cucumbers is crushing them between your fingers. This method is best done at the onset of aphid invasion because of its low population, and they are just in the beginning phase of the infestation.
You can hand-pick and kill the aphids between your fingers or pick them from the plat using a paper towel. Don’t leave the dead insects on the plant because this can cause a re-infestation. Dispose of their tiny bodies in a garbage bin. You should also clean the leaves to remove sap that could attract more aphids.
While this aphid removal method is effective, it can damage your cucumbers. For example, crushing the insects between the plant leaves damages the cells, causing brown spots. The friction can also ultimately damage the plant.
– Use Insecticidal Soap
You can control aphid invasion in your cucumber garden using insecticidal soap. All you should do is fill the soap in a spray bottle on the upper side and underside of the leaves. What happens now is that the soap causes dehydration in the insect’s body, killing them.
It also destroys the aphid’s cell membrane, causing suffocation and killing the insect. You can also use soap to wash the honeydew and sooty mold left behind by aphids to prevent them from infesting again.
– Introduce Aphid Predators
A significant cause of aphid invasion in cucumbers is the lack of aphid predators. These are other insects that feed on aphids and destroy their nymphs to control their population.
If your farm lacks these insects, the aphid population will increase rapidly, and you will suffer aphid damage. In such a case, you can buy aphid predators like ladybugs and rove beetles, and in such a case, these are used for outdoor and indoor aphid control and attack many aphids.
Ensure you have other plants the predators can feed on in the garden to keep them longer. These insects feed on bugs on cucumbers and squash vine, hence healthy plants. When you breed them, they will directly go to be fed on the pests.
– Use Neem Oil
If you’re looking for what to spray on cucumbers for bugs, neem oil is a good option. The oil smothers the insects, blocking their ability to breathe and suffocating them. It also has an active ingredient that blocks insects from feeding on cucumber leaves, and this way, you won’t be using anything chemical as well.
Alternatively, you can use other essential oils, like a mixture of peppermint and thyme. Spray the mixture on your plants, and repeat the process until all the aphids die. This method of aphid control best works when the plants are young.
– Spray With Insecticides
If aphids infest your entire garden, the best control method would be using commercial insecticides. These kill insects faster and can be used to control aphids in a big area. However, you need a professional to mix the chemicals correctly and spray them on your cucumbers.
While insecticides are effective aphid killers and control cucumber beetles, not all are safe on food plants. Remember that these substances have strong chemicals that can cause harm to humans, so ensure you read the instructions carefully. Some insecticides require waiting a week or more before harvesting the cucumbers.
Besides, the chemicals in insecticides cause environmental pollution. When it rains, the rainwater washes into rivers, contaminating the water and causing other plant and animal side effects. If you notice melon aphid, also called Aphis gossypii, the cucumber aphids scientific name, choose the best chemical sprays to remove them with all ease.
– Destroy Aphid Infected Plants
Aphid control methods might not work well if there is a reinfestation cycle. The aphids on the old plants will attack the new ones if you keep the remains of the plants after harvest. Remember that you can eliminate these aphids and stop their cycle of reproduction and reinfestation by destroying the infected plants.
Destroying the plants can be done by burning the remains after harvest or sealing them and throwing them in the bin. While some farmers prefer burying the plants, this can lead to bug reinfestation because some aphid species live in the soil, which is why you must tackle them thoroughly.
– Grow The Right Companion Plants
You can prevent aphids in your cucumber farm by growing companion plants with a strong scent. These can be chives, basil, onions, and sage. They repel aphids and will keep your cucumbers safe, especially from the aroma that is released by them as they are growing in your garden.
Avoid those with large leaves, like lettuce and broccoli, when choosing companion plants. Many insects, including aphids, can use their leaves as hiding zones, which later migrate to your cucumbers.
Now that you know ‘what is eating my cucumber leaves at night,’ you can find the proper aphid control method, so some essential points you’ll get from this article are:
- Aphids attack cucumbers growing near a woody area and those surrounded by weeds.
- Some natural ways to kill aphids are spraying them with a strong stream of water, crushing them between your fingers, and using neem oil.
- You can control aphids by removing them naturally from the plants, applying insecticidal soap or essential oil, or spraying them with insecticides.
- Since high nitrogen levels cause aphid infestation, you can stop fertilizing the cucumbers with nitrogen to control the insect population.
- If you control aphids using chemicals, do not feed on them immediately because the substances can have side effects. You can also use biological control methods like introducing beneficial insects to your garden or chemical methods.
Now that you know ‘what is eating my baby cucumbers,’ you can quickly treat them, so consider using the natural aphid control methods, and use the chemical methods as a last resort.
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