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Old January 7, 2009   #1
stormymater
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Default tips for combatting the dreaded pickle worm - pleeze!

Am going to try cukes again down here on Pleasure Island. Last year planted dual-purpose & Armenian cukes. Planted late - around Meorial day & got 8 or 9 wonderful 6 to 9 inch crisp dual purpose cukes (the Armenian cukes had little finger sized furry cukelets) when we got a the wimpy blow, Tropical Storm Cristobal. My vines were trellised a la Conestoga wagon style over & across my raised beds. The next day the ends of all the vines looked withered - beat up. Upon examination I found little green worms in the withered vines & all my beautiful cukes had little holes exuding...FRASS! Yep, that's what it's called. I figured it was worm poo as they were in my cukes munching away. I harvested all the edible cukes & tried to trim back the vines to below the affected areas but they were goners within days.
This year I am going to plant earlier, use fast maturing types & am thinking of sticking with bush types to be able to cover them. I am not opposed to insecticides other than I have to kill a pollinator & wonder a bit about eating them. Any advice for combatting the pickle worm would be appreciated.
Same plea applies to those unbelievably gross alien-like big worms in my zucchini - I tried surgical excision but the plants never recovered their vigor. I have grown zucchini in WA, MT, NJ, piedmont & western NC & NEVER had problems other than sharing the bounty & last year had a total of 2 zucchini for the whole season. Seriously. Anyway thanks in advance - I am poring vegie selections & thought y'all might be able to help me out. (No problems with the maters, peppers, beans & basil though...knock wood, LOL). TIA, Stormy
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Old January 27, 2009   #2
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Been talking with older locals - seems the game plan is to get the cukes in early & be ready to give it up by early July (yep, that's when they hit last year alright). No one seem to bother with a second crop even though the pickleworms seem to fade away after about 3 weeks. My second crop attempt succumbed to powdery mildew - must be the combined goodness of heat & humidity plus the occasional tropical storm just to tear things up a bit.
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Old January 28, 2009   #3
Polar_Lace
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stormymater View Post
No one seem to bother with a second crop even though the pickleworms seem to fade away after about 3 weeks. My second crop attempt succumbed to powdery mildew - must be the combined goodness of heat & humidity plus the occasional tropical storm just to tear things up a bit.
stormymater,

Try to make 4 successive plantings of the crops; in increments of every 2 weeks in different places; this may help you to obtain a better crop load. I don't know of your space limitations, or how many plants of each variety you planted.

As you plant each batch of seedlings; start another batch to put into the ground 2 weeks later. This is so the bugs that are eating them will by-pass others and the other ones will flourish.

I stake my cukes upwards on old light weight Tomato cage; this makes them healthier. 6 of them can climb the cage at the same time, in the same "hill." Remember any vining plant wants to climb upwards counter-clock-wise. (Even tomato plants.) Watch their branches as they're growing upwards and you'll see what I mean.

Also try the Molasses Method too. It may make them stronger. I'm going to try it this year too.

~* Robin
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Old February 5, 2009   #4
rodger
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The best defense is plant early for a crop prior to mid July. The pickle worm is the larvae of a moth that doesn't over winter but does migrate up the coast from FL. each year. It reaches me here in central SC around July. For later cucurbit crops like winter squash and pumpkins spray the fruit and base of each plant once a week with and solution of BT mixed with safer soap. This is a OMRI approved organic control and is 100% effective for me against Pickel worms Squash vine borers and Squash bugs. No need to spray the entire plants only the base of each plant and the fruit. On cucumbers and summer squash it is just as easy to spray the whole plant but for vining winter squash and pumpkins only spray the base of the plant and each fruit once a week. Rodger
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Old February 5, 2009   #5
rodger
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Another key element in control of the pickle worm is to set up a bat house. Bats consume thousands of night flying insects each night which include moths which cause corn ear worms , pickle worms, tomato horn worms peach bores apple maggott and several more plus cucumber beetles are night flying beetles along with mosquitoes. So establish a colony of bats near your garden and encourage these night time birds to help rid pest. Rodger
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Old February 6, 2009   #6
stormymater
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Rodger - such a wonderful suggestion, the bat house is! I appreciate the Bt/safer soap (?) rec as well. I have considered putting up bat houses before for mosquito control (we are mosquito central here in the spring/summer/fall) & have simple plans for building them. Plan to use some leftover deck boarding.
I visited with the Farmer's Supply ladies earlier in the winter - got set up with Bt among a few other things. I really detest those pickle worms & squash borers on a visceral level. The pickle worms are on the same order as egg thieves - sneaking little robbers, just ruining my lovely crisp cukes (yes I did harvest them all & chunk them up, cutting out the trails & worms). But those squash borers... pulling them out of the squash stems was "Alien" revisited in the garden...yecch!
I really appreciate your recs & will be instituting them.

I was also thinking of starting some sort of diversion crop that would pull in those hornworm moths - they are beautiful - unlike their larvae.
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