The pickleworms have moved in. And my son thinks they are friends. I suspected something was up when I saw some little moths flying around and some leaves started to look odd, but I thought I was doing so great with keeping the aphids away! Then this morning, I found this:
So the small boy and I decided to try and learn something by dissecting the home of our pickleworm. He was insistent, “Be CAREFUL Mommy!! Don’t cut the worms!!!” Ok, ok, I won’t cut the worms. So we proceeded with caution, carefully cutting thin strips away from the cucumber to reveal more holes, worm homes and overall grossness! He was delighted. He picked up the cucumber, carefully plucked each worm away and placed them inside one of this yellow rubber boots, where he says other worms live. (I can neither confirm nor deny other worms living in his boots. But he has been going bare foot because he doesn’t want to “squish them.”)
I wasn’t sure what this pest was, but a quick buzz around a few garden discussion groups got me a name I could Google, and the University of Florida helped me with some great photos, description, but sadly, not a lot of advice. These are tough little buggers! They only live through the winters in tropical places like southern Florida, some parts of Texas, and of course, here in Hawaii. Preventing the moths from landing on plants would be the most organic method of control; this would prevent eggs from being laid, the larvae from hatching and growing into the little worms we found. But cucumbers and other melons need pollination from bees or butterflies to fruit, so tenting the plants prior to pollination could be problematic. Also, spraying insecticides of any kind is going to disrupt the lives of bees, not to mention anything other than neem oil isn’t really safe to use around kids, dogs, and chickens- all of which live in my backyard!
So for now, our method of control will be early detection, harvest and thin slicing to save as much cucumber as possible. And of course, saving our “friends” the worms. Because of course I want the rubber boots to fill up with worms.