Aphids are the tiny sap-sucking insects that belong to the superfamily Aphidoidea. Aphids can infect several plants including cucumber, squash, pumpkin, melon, bean, potato, lettuce, beet, etc.
Although a small population of aphids can not cause any major damage to cucumbers, they can act as a vector and cause the transmission of Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) particularly in cucumbers.
Follow the guidelines to get a comprehensive understanding of how to get rid of aphids from your cucumber plants.
Are aphids bad for cucumber plants?
Aphids are very bad for cucumber plants. These sap-sucking insects can weaken the plants, distort the plant growth, cause metabolic imbalance and twist the plant leaves. Aphids also can act as vectors for viruses and can transmit Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV), particularly in cucumbers.
Aphids are small insects and they have long slender mouth parts which are used to pierce through the leaves and stems of plants to suck out plant fluids.
In a small population, they cannot cause any significant problem in cucumber plants. However, they can reproduce so fast and give rise to serious problems.
Aphids can cause many serious problems with the cucumber plants including stunted plant growth, curled or distorted leaves, and weakening the plant. As aphids feed on plants, they can also cause distortion and deformation of fruits and flowers of the plant.
Most of the species of aphids also secret a sticky honeydew which attracts ants and allows the growth of black sooty molds on the honeydew.
Aphids also act as vectors for several forms of mosaic virus. Mosaic viruses are any virus that causes infections in plants.
The mosaic virus infection is characterized by the mottling of plant leaves with yellow, white, and light or dark green spots and streaks. Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) is a mosaic virus that particularly infects cucumber plants.
CMV infection in cumberer plants causes the leaves to be mottled with yellow and dark or green spots. The infection also causes curling of the leaves and weakening of the vines.
These symptoms will stunt the growth of your cucumber plants. Consequently, your cucumbers will be small, and misshapen. The cucumbers also can have knobs and warts. Thus, they will be nonedible.
Why are there aphids on my cucumber plants?
Like all other pests, aphids also target the weaker plant. Aphids usually infect the plants when they are in a stress condition due to growing in a non-ideal growth condition.
If your cucumber plants are stressed by drought, poor soil conditions, or overcrowding, they will have an altered, cellular metabolism, gene expression, growth rates, and crop yield.
Stress conditions in cucumber plants adversely affect the development, growth, and productivity of plants. Thus, the cucumber plants under stress conditions become more susceptible to aphid infestation.
Therefore, if your cucumber plants are stressed, they will most likely be invaded by aphids.
How do you know there are aphids on your plants?
To find out there are aphids on your plants, you need to check for some signs. Follow the guidelines to identify aphids on your plants.
First of all, search for curling, misshapen, stunted, or yellow leaves in your plants. Aphids also can cause distortion and deformation of flowers and fruits.
Check the bottom of the leaves:
Aphids love to hide on the underside of leaves. Thus, do not forget to check the underside of the leaves.
If the leaves and stems of your plants are covered by sticky elements, it is a sign that aphids are feeding on your plants and excreting honeydew.
Honeydew attracts ants and allows fungal growth on leaves called sooty mold. If you find black spots on the leaves, your plants are most likely invaded by aphids.
White skin shades:
Aphids are also known to shed their skins as they grow. If your plants are invaded by aphids, you will find white skins of aphids on the leaves and stuck on the honeydew.
Aphids also transmit the mosaic virus and attract other insects that prey on them, for example, ladybugs. If you see any symptoms of mosaic virus infection, your plants are most probably invaded by aphids.
How to get rid of aphids from the cucumber plants?
There are several ways available to get rid of aphids from your cucumber plants. The most effective ways are explained below.
To get rid of a small population of aphids, you can spray a strong flow of water on the infested plants. The strong flow of water will dislodge the aphids from the plant. They usually never find a way back to the same plant.
However, do not use too much water and do not spray water with very high pressure. Because too much water can negatively affect your cucumber plants. And very high pressure of the water may damage the plants.
There are several preparations of neem oil, intertidal soaps, and horticulture oil commercially available. These preparations are well effective against aphids.
There are varieties of preparation available commercially such as petroleum-based horticulture oil and plant-based neem oil and canola oil.
You just need to buy them and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to make them ready for spraying.
However, these preparations must need to get contact with the aphids to get rid of them. Make sure to spray the preparation thoroughly on your infested plants.
One of the easiest ways to get rid of aphids is using dish soap spray. Aphids also do not like normal dish soap.
You can mix a few drops of dish soap with water and spray on the leaves to get rid of aphids. To completely get rid of aphids, you need to reapply the soapy water every 2 to 3 days for 2 weeks.
Vinegar is also known to be very effective against aphids. You can simply make a vinegar solution by mixing 1 part of vinegar with 3 parts of water. Spraying the vinegar solution on your aphids-infested plants gets rid of aphids.
Another ingredient known to get rid of aphids is cayenne pepper. Cayenne pepper is an inexpensive, environment-friendly, and effective ingredient.
You can simply make a solution by mixing water with a few drops of dish soap and a few pinches of cayenne pepper. Spray thoroughly on the aphid-infested plants to get rid of aphids.
Alcohol is also known to get rid of aphids. Both isopropyl alcohol and ethanol are effective against aphids. However, ethanol is known to be more effective against aphids.
To make an insecticidal solution of alcohol, you just need to mix 70 % alcohol with the same amount of water. You can also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of dish soap with the alcohol solution for a better result.
But it is not recommended to spray the alcohol solution all over the plants. You must spray the alcohol solution in the infested leaves or fruits of the cucumber plants.
Rotenone is a broad-spectrum insecticide that is known to be effective against aphids. It is an odorless, colorless, crystalline isoflavone.
You can buy commercially available preparations of rotenone and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to apply to your cucumber plants.
Another chemical that is known to be effective against aphids is Diatomaceous earth. It is a non-toxic organic material that works against aphids by dehydrating them.
However, it is not recommended to use it when your cucumber trees are in bloom. Because it can be toxic to pollinators such as bees and butterflies.
There are several beneficial insects that feed on aphids such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. You can simply attract these insects in your garden where you are growing cucumbers.
To attract these insects, you must provide them with an environment that has a range of flowers, foliage plants, and access to water sources.
10. Keep plants away from other plants: Aphids are more attracted to some plants such as mustard and nasturtium. You can plant these trees near your cucumber trees. Aphids will likely affect these plants before infesting your cucumber plants.
This strategy will help you to prevent aphid infestation in your cucumber plants. But it will not be effective if your cucumber plants are already invaded by aphids.
Plant repellent plants:
There are some plants that are known to repel aphids including catnip, garlic, and chives.
You can plant these trees in the garden where you are growing cucumbers. Planting these trees will repel aphids from your garden.
Aphids are very harmful to cucumber plants. These sap-sucking insects can damage plants, alter plant development, induce metabolic imbalance, and twist plant leaves. Aphids also can serve as viral vectors, transmitting the Cucumber mosaic virus (CMV) in cucumbers.