Melonworms beginning to affect Arkansas pumpkin growers

Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 4:59 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - As farmers begin this year’s harvest, some face a problem that could hurt the state’s pumpkin crop.

A pest known as “melonworms” can significantly hinder the growth of pumpkins or even wipe out an entire crop.

For now, the worms aren’t affecting pumpkin growth in Northeast Arkansas.

“The damage is more located in South Arkansas. Last week, they saw larva in Hope,” said Lawrence County Extension Agent Bryce Baldridge.

Farmer Alex Lane said he hadn’t seen the melonworms affecting his pumpkins in Lawrence County.

“I have not seen any melonworms to this point. I’ve only had a little trouble with vine borers early, and now we’re seeing some decent numbers of squash bugs showing up,” Lane explained.

Around mid-September is when the melonworms usually appear in the state, and despite most sightings being in South Arkansas, that doesn’t mean they can’t make their way into the region soon.

“This week, they are seeing more moths in South Arkansas. That means within a week or two, growers across North Arkansas could start seeing population move in,” Baldridge explained.

As more and more sightings are reported in the state, extension agents are asking you to keep an eye out.

“They’ll what we call skeletonize the leaf. They eat all of the leaf and in between the veins. They’re also a rein feeder. They get up underneath the rein and eat into the reins,” Baldridge said.

For those who harvest pumpkins in Northeast Arkansas, should everything stay on track, the crop looks good so far.

“So far, pretty good. We’re pretty happy with what we’re seeing. We’ve moved a pretty good amount of melons,” Lane added.

If you see a suspected melonworm on your property, you’re asked to call your county extension office.