What’s eating my cucumber seedlings?
I just planted some organic cucumber seedlings in my garden, and immediately noticed holes in the leaves. I inspected the plant, and can not see any bugs. I submitted a photo. Can you tell me what it is? What I can or can not do about it? What can I do to prevent it from happening in the future?
Kate Garland, Horticultural Professional
It’s tough to say for sure without seeing the culprit, but it certainly looks a lot like cucumber beetle damage. It could also be flea beetles. For either one, I highly recommend using row cover over young plants as soon as they are transplanted or as soon as the seeds are sown. Cucumber beetles and flea beetles can find crops shockingly fast, so it’s best to be prepared with a physical barrier over them as soon as possible. Prevention is key; once you have those pests they can be tough to manage. For crops that require pollination (cucumbers, pumpkin, squash), remove row cover as soon as you see both male and female flowers.
More info on both insects can be found here:
If you have another space to replant cucumber seeds and try out your new row cover trick, there’s still plenty of time to get a crop. You could try pulling these seedlings and replanting in this area, but you may have enough of a pest population in the immediate area that they could get trapped under the row cover and still enjoy your next crop