The pickle worm is the larvae of the pickle worm moth, Diaphania nitidalis. They are known to be the smallest marine worm species, with an average length of just 1.5mm. These larvae are white and have a yellow head (as pictured above) and long black hair-like projections on their bodies.
These creatures are not harmful to humans but can destroy the vegetables in your garden. They love to feed on cucumbers and also eat other plants in the garden, such as tomatoes, beans, cantaloupes, pumpkins, and squash. These pests ruin summer squash by burrowing into and feeding inside the fruit.
They are most active during the night and come out of their cocoons to eat plants during the day. There are many different methods for getting rid of pickle worms, and we will discuss a few. Continue reading this article as it reveals how to get rid of pickleworms. We will look at the different ways to get rid of pickleworms without damaging the plant.
What Causes Pickleworms?
The pickleworm is one of the most destructive garden pests because it can cause significant damage to your plant’s leaves and fruit. The main causes of pickleworms are:
- Poor crop rotation practices – Overplanting – Insufficient fertilization
- Poor weed control
- Excessive watering
How To Identify Pickleworms
Pickleworms will attack and destroy plants and vegetables in your garden, so it’s important to know how to get rid of them. Before you start using any household remedies, ensure that you have correctly identified what kind of pest you are dealing with.
You can do this by inspecting the damage done to your plants or vegetables or looking for worm-like creatures in the soil. If you have correctly identified the problem, you can easily eliminate them.
Many signs indicate a pickleworm infestation. It’s important to identify if you have pickleworms to take the necessary steps to prevent them from coming back and damaging your plants again next year. Read the points below to identify pickleworms in your garden:
- If you notice thin white caterpillars with numerous small black spots, these are pickleworms. However, they become plump and spotless color as they mature.
- An adult pickleworm has a 1-inch wingspan. Its brown wings feature a yellow band running through them, and it has a feathery tuft at the end of its abdomen.
- Tiny, cream-colored eggs in your garden is a warning that pickleworm infestation is likely to occur.
- Holes in fruits or the rotting fruits in the garden are the signs that it is affected by pickleworms.
- Internally damaged fruit or soft excrement
- Pupae of pickleworms usually develop within leaf folds. Dead, dry leaf material is often used.
- Reduced production of fruits in your garden might be a sign that there is a pickleworm infestation.
Other common signs include:
- Small holes in leaves
- Tiny worms on the undersides of leaves
- White worms near fruit clusters
- Large numbers of small worms near the ground or on vines
- Premature fruit dropping off the vines prematurely
- Deformed fruits
- Scarred melon rinds
If you see any of these signs, it is imperative to take action before they become too big of an issue for your plants or garden. Read on below to find out how to get rid of these pesky little creatures-pickleworms!
How To Get Rid Of Pickleworms
We have found some easiest and most environmentally friendly solutions to free your garden from pickleworms. Let’s discuss some organic and inorganic methods to eliminate these destructive moths and save your vegetation.
Handpicking can be effective if the infestation is on a small scale. You need to examine the garden for these moths and their eggs closely. Don’t forget to dispose of the larva and eggs in soapy water. This method can be effective if you monitor your garden regularly and be consistent with removing pickleworms by hand.
2. Fruit bagging
Fruit bagging is another organic way to get rid of pickleworms. It is the practice of covering fruits with plastic bags to protect them from pests. This method can be time-consuming if you have to deal with many plants and fruits. However, it is crop friendly and a part of organic farming. It is best to use paper bags to let plants breathe easily.
Insect sampling is sometimes known as scouting or monitoring, which involves using traps to collect the insects. Sampling pickleworms can be tedious as they are nocturnal and are not attracted to light traps. However, you can use pheromone traps to trap these insects.
4. Natural predators
The use of natural predators is one of the best ways to get rid of pickleworms. The natural enemies of this larva include Calosoma beetles, soldier beetle, Harpalus beetles, red imported fire ant, Trichogramma wasps. You can use these natural predators in your garden to control pickleworms.
5. Resistant varieties
The resistance to pickleworm is based on various plant varieties, including Summer Crookneck, Early Prolific Straightneck, Butternut 23, and Early Yellow Summer Crookneck. You can use these varieties to keep this insect at bay. However, plants like Benning’s Green Tint Scallop squash, Cozini Zucchini, Black Caserta Zucchini are more prone to pickleworm attacks, so avoid planting them in your garden.
6. Row Covers
A floating row cover shields the plants from pickleworms, melonworms, and other insects, such as whiteflies and aphids. As pickleworms are nocturnal, cover your plants with floating row covers only at night.
In the morning, this moth is inactive so remove the cover allowing the bees to pollinate. Also, replace covers in the late afternoon to keep away nocturnal moths from laying their eggs.
7. Throwing Damaged Plant
If you notice a plant in your garden that is highly infested by pickleworms, we suggest uprooting it and discarding it. Such a plant threatens your garden as worms can easily reproduce in the soil. Discard carefully in soapy water so the moths are killed and unable to return.
8. Use Insecticide
A spray of pickleworms designed insecticides on the infested plant will help you get rid of them.
When selecting an insecticide for edible plants, look for products that are labeled for use on the specific crop you are growing and that mention the target pest (such as pickle worms) on the product label. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer carefully, including application rates, timing, and any necessary safety precautions.
In this regard, Diatomaceous earth (DE) is considered the best natural insecticide:
- Natural Product - Composed of 4lbs of 100% ground freshwater diatomaceous earth with absolutely no additives or fillers.
- OMRI Listed - Listed with the Organic Minerals Research Institute, a non-profit organization that reviews products against organic standards.
- Powder Duster Included - Powder duster in the bag for easy and efficient application of diatomaceous earth on animal feed
- Supports a Great Cause - Harris donates 10% of profits to support the local Etowah Valley Humane Society.
- Made in the USA – Mined in Nevada and packaged in Georgia
Growgardener’s NOTE: Diatomaceous earth is only effective when used dry. So, don’t use it on a rainy day.
How To Prevent Pickleworms from Coming Back?
Pickleworms eat the vegetables and fruit from the inside out, weakening them. Pickleworm prevention is the next step to take now that you have rid yourself of these insects. The prevention methods include:
- Planting some flowers around your vegetables
- Plan your crops as early as possible to harvest them before late summer, when weed damage is most likely to occur
- Keeping a clean garden
- Removing weeds and debris from around plants
- Planting cucumbers in an area that is not prone to flooding
- Planting cucumbers early in the season, before there is a lot of rain
- Picking off any visible worms from cucumber vines
- Mow your garden regularly, so it is hard for pickleworms to hide
- Keep your garden free from rotting vegetation and other organic matter
This section concludes that pickleworms are a common garden pest, and you can remove them with the help of a few natural remedies. If you were worried about the infested plant, we have enlisted some quick solutions on how to get rid of pickleworms.
We hope you found this article useful. Please make sure to share your comments below!