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11 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Melon Worms

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11 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Melon Worms

Have you noticed those little white or greenish worms munching away at your squash and/or watermelon vines? Yeah, melon worms can be a real nuisance once they infest your garden.

But don’t worry; there are some natural melonworm control methods that you can try. You’ll also be happy to know that you can employ most of these remedies all on your own.

The key is to act fast before those worms take over your cucurbit garden.

Identification

Melon worms are common pests that feed on cucurbits like squash, cucumbers, melons, and cantaloupes. These colorless caterpillars hatch from eggs laid by melonworm moths on the undersides of leaves and feed on foliage, vines, and fruit.

Damage

The melon worm moth lays its eggs on plants in the cucurbit family, like cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, and, of course, melons [1]. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae, known as melon worms, feed on the leaves and vines of these plants.

Cucumbers are a favorite target of melon worms. Summer and winter squash also provide a welcoming habitat for this pest. Zucchini, butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash are all at risk of melon worm damage.

Pumpkin vines and leaves are also a perfect place for these worms to feed and develop. Finally, as their name suggests, melons like cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon are also prime targets for melon worms.

How to Get Rid of Melon Worms Naturally

Controlling melon worms on plants is critical to growing healthy crops. Below are some natural home remedies and organic methods you can try.

1. Row Covers

Row covers are lightweight fabrics you can use to physically exclude adult moths and other flying pests from reaching your plants.

Place row covers over hoops to protect watermelon and other host crops from pests. Moreover, you can find row covers at most garden centers or online, and they are affordable.

2. Plant Early

Planting squash, cucumbers, melons, or other potential target crops early in the growing season is one of the best ways to avoid melon worms.

With the right conditions and care, your crop will mature and be ready to harvest before melon worms become a major threat.

3. Trap Crops

Lure the melon worms away from your melons by planting trap crops nearby.

Two effective trap crops are squash and cucumber. The worms seem to prefer these over melons.

As the worms gather on the trap crops, you can then easily remove them by hand. If cucumber or squash is your main crop, then you can try planting another host crop nearby to attract these pests.

Using trap crops around your garden is an eco-friendly way to outsmart these pesky pests.

4. Spinosad

Spinosad is an organic pesticide that kills melon worms when they eat or come in contact with it.

This product provides an organic method to eliminate melon worms and allow your melons, cucumbers, and other cucurbits to grow worm-free.

When used properly and consistently, it can be an effective remedy in an integrated pest management program.

5. Control Weeds

Controlling weeds around your melon patch is also important for the health of your plants. Weeds can harbor melon and cantaloupe pests that may attack their namesakes and other cucurbits.

Therefore, pull weeds regularly, especially when they are small. Be diligent about controlling weeds throughout the growing season.

6. Fruit Bagging

Another smart home remedy is to bag ripening fruits. As the fruits start to develop, cover them with mesh bags.

This prevents the adult moths from laying their eggs on the fruit surface.

While not always 100% effective, as melon worms rarely bore into fruits, fruit bagging is an easy, organic method to try in your battle against worms inside watermelons and other fruits.

7. Neem Oil

Neem oil is commonly used as an organic pesticide for a wide range of pests on plants, including these ones. You can find pure neem oil or neem oil concentrate at most garden centers and online.

Make a homemade pesticide for watermelon, squash, or other host plants. Just mix 2 tablespoons of pure neem oil with a teaspoon of liquid dish soap and a gallon of water.

Next, pour it into a spray bottle and coat the leaves and stems of your plants. In addition, spray it directly on the watermelon worms that you see.

8. Pick Them Off

Picking these green or white caterpillars off by hand is a cheap way to control an infestation organically.

Check your plant’s vines and leaves at least twice a week for signs of these worms. As soon as you spot one, simply pluck it off and drop it into a container of soapy water.

This will kill the worms and prevent them from returning to the plant. But be diligent and thorough with your inspections.

Also, pick off any egg masses you find to break their lifecycle. While handpicking may seem tedious, it can make a big difference if done consistently and carefully.

9. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

You can also apply diatomaceous earth to your plants. It will dehydrate and kill the caterpillars. Reapply after rain.

You can also make a DIY melon worm spray out of it. Just mix a tablespoon of DE in a quart of water.

Next, use it to spray your plants. It will work the same way after it dries.

10. Bacillus thuringiensis

Bacillus thuringiensis, also known as Bt, is toxic to certain insects, like melon worms.

You can apply it according to package instructions directly to your plants’ leaves, vines, and other appropriate areas where the worms feed.

11. Natural Predators

Natural predators like birds, ladybugs, and some parasitic wasps can help control melon worm populations.

Some birds feed on adult moths, eggs, and caterpillars. Ladybugs and parasitic wasps also feed on the small caterpillars.

The presence of these natural enemies will naturally reduce the number of melon worms and other common garden pests.

Takeaway

You don’t have to resort to harsh pesticides to eliminate melon worms. As you have read, there are plenty of natural remedies you can try in your own garden.

Give some of these natural methods a shot. The war against garden pests doesn’t have to be toxic.

Picture via farmprogress.com

Sasha Brown

Sasha Brown is a blogger and lover of all things natural.

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