Cucumbers are technically fruits (because they contain seeds that will reproduce). They are part of the gourd family, along with squash, cantaloupe and watermelon. Cucumbers are vining plants commonly found in home gardens. Unfortunately for home gardeners, there are several pests that are attracted to cucumbers.
Aphids are tiny insects that are only 1/32 to 1/8 of an inch when fully grown. Aphids attack the leaves and stems of cucumber plants. They usually go undetected until they have completely infested a plant. This is because aphids attack the undersides of leaves. Aphids suck moisture from the plants and leave behind a clear, sticky substance called honeydew. If left untreated, the plants die from the aphid attack, or from a secondary fungal infection caused by the honeydew.
Flea beetles are approximately 1/16 of an inch in length. They are dark brown, jumping insects. Flea beetles attack the fruit of a cucumber plant, boring tiny holes into the flesh of the cucumbers. Cucumbers that are attacked by flea beetles look as though they have been shot with buckshot. If you grow cucumbers every year, rotate the area in which you grow them each year to avoid infestation.
Slugs and Snails
Slugs and snails are attracted to cucumber plants. These pests attack the entire plant, including leaves, stems and fruit. If you handpick these pests off your plants, be sure to throw them away far away from the garden; eggs remain alive on dead slugs and snails and will create another infestation. Shallow containers of beer placed several feet away from cucumber plants help to control infestation; the pests are attracted to the yeasty smell of the beer and drown in the liquid.
Cucumber beetles are such a common cucumber pest that they were given a name to reflect their diet of choice. There are two types of cucumber beetles: striped and spotted. They grow to approximately 1/4 inch in length. Both striped and spotted varieties are black with yellow or yellowish-green. These pests lay their eggs on the soil and chew the leaves of the cucumber plants.
Insecticidal soap is effective in the treatment of pests on cucumber plants. Because the plants bear food that will be consumed, it's not advised that you use toxic chemicals to treat pest infestations. Insecticidal soap contains ingredients that are safe for humans, pets and food.