:by Larry Williams, UF/IFAS Extension Agent
Q: What are the little worms that tunnel into my cucumbers and how can I control them?
A: These are called pickleworms. They can be difficult to control. Planting early and harvesting on a regular basis are good cultural methods to follow in growing cucurbits (cucumbers, melons and squash) to minimize problems with pests. The likelihood of having problems with pickeworms and other pests increases considerably as we move later into the growing season. Because of increased pest pressure and the difficulties of carrying many of the warm season vegetables through the hot summer months, a good gardening practice in Florida is to plant early and get what you can. When the pests and heat become too much, forget about it and do away with the plants. The expense, trouble and stress may not be worth trying to keep a few cucumber plants producing all summer in Florida.
There are insecticides to control pickleworms. Look for insecticides labeled for cucumbers that contain spinosad, Bacillus thuringensis, carbaryl or pyrethroids. Always follow directions on the pesticide label for the crop you are spraying. A regular spray schedule will be needed. Once they are in the individual fruit, spraying won’t help.