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Alien cucumber worms? What are they and are they bad?

 
simon wilde
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As the Autumn arrived in Cali so did my cucumbers have to go, I pulled em out and by bloody god, this is what I found!!! I sifted through all the soil and there were maybe 30+ of these alien looking creatures. They certainly don't like the day light - as soon as they woke up they were burrowing back down!!! The strange thing is that in cucumber pot/container (5 gal) #1, there was no sign of them at all: So, what are they? Where do they come from? Should I toss the soil or have they made it better? Are they root eaters? Are they mysterious nighttime vampires that come to devour above ground? And, since I have saved about 25 in a fishbowl, is there any use for them?
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Tyler Ludens
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Those are some kind of beetle larvae. They may be harmful, they may be beneficial - some kinds of beetles are predators of other critters. Many beetle grubs look pretty much the same, differing only in size. We have some about 3 inches long, which grow into quite large beetles!

Chickens love any kind of beetle larvae, or you could use them as fish bait.

 
Tyler Ludens
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They are not apparently Cucumber Beetle larvae, who look much different and are quite small: http://www.ourveggiegarden.com/InsectsCucumberBeetle.html
 
simon wilde
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Hey Tyler, thanks for your response - WISH I HAD SOME CHICKENS!!! Maybe I'll go fishing tomorrow. But on a more serious note, they kind of fit into this:Larvae

The larval stage of this insect likes to feed on the roots of crops for two to six weeks, and then enters the pupa stage of its life. The caterpillars are slightly larger than adults, being about 1/3 to 1/2 of an inch long and are normally very slender and white in color, brownish at the ends. They can destroy the entire root system or stem of the plant, but more mature plants can usually tolerate this damage.

They are definitely larger than that - 1" plus and as thick as a pencil! but they could be that...I recently heard that the so/central Cali has been invaded by some kind of mutant, I believe, Japanese beetle, that devours all brassicas. Even so, I am working with a 5' x 50' space in a suburban setting with no other growers near by. However, there have been some strange developments: beets, radishes, 3 kinds of kale, carrots all devoured to the bone - I think it's rats, possums, or ? No signs other than heavy bite marks that an insect generally doesn't leave. Whoever that culprit is, outside of bite marks, they leave no evidence. The question is: why would one 5 gal pot of cucumbers be a breeding ground when another ten feet away is completely clean? THAT IS A MYSTERY IN ITSELF and I must admit, quite wonderful at that for this (on the small scale) makes the whole endevour so much fun!!!

In any case, thanks again:

PLEASE, I KNOW SOMEONE OUT THERE MUST KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THESE ARE. I certainly will never forget them:

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Kota Dubois
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Simon, I think you said you are in California, I'm in the northeast so I don't know if this holds but we have 2 beetles which produce grubs like this. The first is our native June bug. The second is the invasive Japanese beetle. Both feed on the roots of plants but the Japanese adult feeds on just about everything and is quite a problem. I imagine the reason you have found lots in one place and nothing in another is because that is where the eggs were laid. Doesn't really seem like an all out invasion, but putting an end to them may help in the future. Like Ludi said chickens are great, so are fish, I imagine they'd be great in stirfries but probably I'd just squish and compost.
 
sam stoneman
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It's been a while, but in case you're still wondering, looks like you have one of these guys, I would say #3... =)

Gardener's Larva Guide
 
Craig Dobbelyu
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Location: Maine (zone 5)
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forest garden hugelkultur
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I had the same shock as I pulled up my potatoes this year. Literally hundreds of them in among the potatoes. They didn't seem to do any damage to them or the plants around them. I just had my son pick up all the ones he could find and put them in our chicken food bucket. CHICKENS LOVE THESE THINGS. I think they are japanese beetles because the majority of the grubs were in an area that was over run with wild grapes last year. Grapes seem to be a favorite for them around here.

A few days later I noticed that a skunk was going through the garden and removing all the grubs that were left. I was surprised that the skunk was very careful not to dig up the plants in the garden. It knew right where the grubs were and dug neat holes to get at them. anyway... looking forward to fewer beetles next year.



 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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