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Cucurbits: pests to look out for

We’re not the only ones who love to eat cucurbits! Plenty of small insects also like to feast on their flowers, leaves, stems and roots. Time to zoom in on these devastating little pests!

Below are the most common insect pests in Quebec. Beware, though, there are lots more!

Striped beetles or spotted cucumber beetles

Small beetles that attack the flowers and foliage of seedlings and mature plants. Larvae will feed on underground roots and stems after hatching.

Prevention and control

  • Dispose of old leaves and garden debris from the previous year. Beetles over-winter in leaves and mulch.
  • Plant fragrant companion plantings to repel beetles. Marigolds, sage, and catnip work well.
  • Use yellow sticky traps.
  • Pick off by hand.


Small crawling mollusks that love young newly planted seedlings.

Prevention and control

  • Place a bowl filled with beer close to the plant as bait.
  • Spread a ribbon of ashes or egg shells around plants as a deterrence.
  • Pick off by hand.

Black aphids and green aphids

Small insects that attack stems or leaves, or both, sucking the sap from plants.


  • Visible presence of black or green aphids on stems.
  • Leaves curl inward and eventually drop.

Prevention and control

  • Avoid over-applying nitrogen.
  • Plant nasturtiums close by - they will attract aphids away from plants.
  • Spray infected parts of plants with black soap.

Spider mites

Mites that look like tiny spiders, and so small you need a magnifying glass to see them.


  • Small, lightly coloured dots on the upper sides of leaves, beginning on the lower leaves.
  • Leaves turn a bronzy yellow and eventually fall off.
  • Fine webbing on affected leaves.

Prevention and control

  • Avoid over-applying nitrogen.
  • Cut and destroy infected leaves. Do not compost.
  • Spray infected parts of plants with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.