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How to Identify, Treat, and Eliminate 5 Pumpkin Pests

When raising a crop of pumpkins, you already have so much to worry about. There’s planting, watering, making sure they’re getting enough sunshine, preventing fungal infections, harvesting, and more.

But even after dealing with those issues, pumpkin pests can still harm your crop.

Two stinkbugs on pumpkin leaves.

Pests can cause severe damage to, or even kill, your pumpkins.

Keep reading to learn about common insects that attack pumpkins. This article will cover how to identify the insects, the symptoms of their presence, and how to prevent and get rid of them.

Common Pumpkin Pests

Now we’ll go over the five pests that are most likely to show up and wreak havoc in your pumpkin patch.


Black aphids on fava bean plant leaves.
Black aphids on a fava bean plant.

How to Identify

Aphids are one of the most common pumpkin pests. Additionally, while they are all very small, (no larger than 1/8 inch long), they come in many colors.

Most commonly aphids are green or black, but they can be brown, red, gray, or yellow. Additionally, some aphids have wings. Fortunately, despite the differences between them, aphids all have what are called “cornicles.”

Cornicles are tail pipes located at the bottom of the abdomen that are used to secrete honeydew, a sticky sugar-rich liquid. The tail pipes vary in size between aphids, so you may have to look more closely to locate them.


Aside from noticing many tiny insects clinging to the different parts of your pumpkin plant, indicators such as curling, yellowing, or browning of leaves can point to the presence of aphids.

Additionally, aphids may stunt a pumpkin’s growth or cause it to grow to be deformed.

How to Treat for It

One of the most reliable ways to get rid of aphids is to use an insecticidal soap.

Cucumber Beatles

Cucumber beetle

How to Identify

Two types of cucumber beetle that are common pumpkin pests are spotted cucumber beetles and striped cucumber beetles. Both have a hard exoskeleton, grow to about 1/4 inch, and are a mix of yellow and black.

Striped cucumber beetles are solid yellow with three parallel black stripes on their abdomen. Spotted cucumber beetles are nearly the same except with black heads and a dozen black spots on their abdomens instead of stripes.


Pumpkins are most susceptible to damage from beetles when they are young, as the insects like to feed on tender new growth. Beetles can thus kill plants even while they’re still seedlings.

Other indicators of cucumber beetles include wilting or otherwise chewed or damaged leaves. They may also cause scarring on the pumpkin fruit.

They also carry diseases that may cause your pumpkins to develop a fungal infection.

How to Treat for It

The best thing to do for cucumber beetles is to prevent them from reaching your crop in the first place. This can be done by using barriers such as a floating row cover or mulch.

Neem oil is another insecticidal and fungicidal option for controlling these pumpkin pests.

Squash Bugs

A squash bug.

How to Identify

Squash bugs grow to a little over 1/2 inch long, are dark in color, usually a shade of brown or gray, and have an almost flat abdomen. The abdomens of these pumpkin pests are almost oval-shaped and become triangular towards the head.


Squash bugs can cause yellowing and browning of the leaves of your pumpkin plant. Furthermore, these pests feeding on plants can cause the leaves to wilt. Like cucumber beetles, squash bugs are most dangerous to juvenile plants.

How to Treat for It

In most cases, manually checking, picking off, and disposing of pumpkin pests from your crop is enough. However, in cases of heavy infestation, a broad-spectrum insecticide is needed.

Squash Vine Borer

An adult squash vine borere.

How to Identify

Another typical pumpkin pest is the squash vine borer, a moth that will lay its eggs on the stems of cucurbits such as squash or pumpkin. So, it’s important to be able to recognize these insects at all stages of development.

The eggs are small, flat, and reddish brown. They’re laid individually along the stems of the plant.

The larvae, once hatched, burrow their way into the stem to feed on the plant material within. They look like many other maggots. They have brown heads and fat, white, ridged bodies that’re soft to the touch.

The adult moths have orange abdomens with black spots and get to be roughly 1/2 inch.


Once they’ve burrowed, they immediately begin to feed. Feeding causes the plant to quickly wilt. The plant will also begin to rot, starting at the site where the larva is feeding. If there’s severe damage to the plant’s main stem, squash vine borers can easily be lethal to the plant in which they are burrowed.

How to Treat for It

It is, again, best to take preventative steps against these pumpkin pests. It’s best to put up barriers such as a mulch or a cover and to refrain from planting the same crop in the same place for two years in a row without tilling the soil.

If caught early, a broad-spectrum insecticide may also be useful.

Snails and Slugs

A garden snail.

How to Identify

Snails and slugs are a very easily spotted pumpkin pest. Additionally, they’re slow and won’t be able to get away while you’re examining your pumpkins.

Slugs are slimy, squishy, and usually brown, gray, or yellow. Snails are the same but with a calcareous shell on their back.


Snails and slugs like to feed on the flesh of giant pumpkins, but fortunately, can only do so while the pumpkins are young. Once the rinds harden, they’re safe from these pumpkin pests.

However, in the early stages of a pumpkin’s development, be attentive. Snail damage will leave yellowed, chewed up patches on the surface of the pumpkins.

How to Treat for It

If you notice snails or slugs on your pumpkins, simply pluck them off and dispose of them. A ring of Epsom salt around the pumpkin is a great preventative measure.

Healthy Pumpkins Are Beautiful Pumpkins

Pumpkin plants with pumpkins.

Now that you know about some of the most common pumpkin pests, your pumpkins stand a better chance than ever of growing into the large, pristine, festive fall fruits they were always meant to be!

At Minneopa Orchards we love pumpkins and have many articles and posts about them. Be sure to visit our Pumpkin Plants page for additional information on these awesome plants!