Pumpkin: Common Pests and Diseases

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:18 pm

In today’s article the protagonist will be the pumpkin. On other occasions, we have already talked about how to grow pumpkin in the garden, the different varieties, and even, our colleague Sandra, taught us how to create a terrifying Halloween pumpkin. Today, I will focus on the pests and diseases that can affect this crop.

Pumpkin: Common Pests and Diseases
Flor de la calabaza

Snails and slugs in pumpkins

Sometimes we can find snails or slugs in our pumpkins. They are considered mollusks (gastropods) and like to come out at night when the weather is humid. Their mouthparts are very characteristic, consisting of a kind of tongue covered by a plate called a radula.

Pumpkin: Common Pests and Diseases

The radula has very small teeth that help to crumble the food. These animals begin to eat the pumpkin when it is growing because that is when the rind is softer. It is very easy to detect them, we only have to observe if there is slime in the surroundings.

Pumpkin: Common Pests and Diseases
Snails and slugs are one of the most common orchard pests

We must control this pest consciously, without eliminating all of them, since they are beneficial animals to control the balance of the environment. There are different ecological methods that you can use if the population density is high:

  • Place containers at ground level, such as cut bottles. In them, you can add beer or a solution of water, sugar, flour and yeast. The snails will chase the smell and fall into the trap.
  • Another method is to sprinkle the soil with coffee or garlic infusion. You simply make a coffee, dilute it in water (2ml of coffee per 100ml of water) and apply it around the affected plants. Garlic infusion is also effective: boil 4 cloves of garlic, let it cool, remove the garlic and apply it in the vegetable garden.
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Black bugs on pumpkin: vine borers

The vine borer is limited to infecting the genus Cucurbita, causing severe damage to squash and melon. Adults are active throughout the day and feed primarily on nectar. Eggs are black or brown, ovoid in shape and slightly flattened. Larvae are white with a dark capsule on the head.

Damage caused by this insect can also lead to infection by other types of pathogens (bacterial, viral or fungal). This pest is difficult to detect as they start attacking the base of the plants and then consume them from the inside out.

Pumpkin: Common Pests and Diseases
Vine borers

Cucumber beetle

This insect does not attack only cucumber plants but affects all cucurbits in general, including squash. Both larvae and adults feed on the leaves. In addition, one of the problems of this type of insect is that it acts as a disease vector, i.e., it can transmit mosaic virus or bacterial diseases to the pumpkin. It is very easy to identify because it is yellow with black spots, and in large quantities it can ruin the entire crop!

Pumpkin: Common Pests and Diseases
Cucumber beetle

Among the main ecological methods to combat it are the following:

  • Eliminating weeds and crop residues at the end of the season.
  • Crop rotation.
  • Plant trap crops, that is, crops where the beetles prefer to be. For example: big max pumpkin, baby boo pumpkin or classic melon.
  • Yellow chromatic traps.
  • Mulch with straw to make it difficult for beetles to climb plants.
  1. Pumpkin or squash diseases
    White spots on pumpkin leaves: powdery mildew.
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Oidium is a fungus, also known as ashy, white evil or white mold. It appears as white spots and turns into a grayish-white powder. Because of this white powder, it is one of the easiest fungi to detect. It usually develops on the upper side of the leaves, although it can also spread to the stem or fruit. Its presence hinders photosynthesis. If it is not well controlled, the leaves turn yellow and can dry out.

Humidity and warm temperatures are the ideal conditions for powdery mildew to appear in our orchard.

Pumpkin: Common Pests and Diseases
Powdery mildew spores

In the following link you can read how to remove the hatred of plants.

Brown spots on the leaves of pumpkin: Mildew

Another fungus that affects pumpkin is mildew. It produces on the edges of the leaves or on the fruits greasy-looking spots of different shades, which then turn brown and wither.

Pumpkin: Common Pests and Diseases
Pumpkin leaf with mildew

Viruses on pumpkin plants: Mosaic virus

This disease is caused by the pumpkin mosaic virus. Attacked plants show discolorations between leaf veins and black bands. Leaves curl and fail to develop properly. To control this disease, be careful with aphids, as they are one of the main vectors of the disease.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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