Bacterial wilt is a disease that causes members of the squash family to wilt.
Bacterial wilt is caused by a bacterium called Erwinia tracheiphila. It mostly affects cucumbers and muskmelons, but it can also infect pumpkins and squash.
Symptoms of bacterial wilt
Damage caused by bacterial wilt looks a lot like feeding damage caused by squash bugs. As the bacterium begin to multiply within vascular tissue (veins), they clog the xylem, which makes the plant wilt. The sap of an infected plant will be milky colored and able to create a viscous string. (Ew!)
Striped and spotted cucumber beetles carry this disease. The Erwinia bacteria that cause this disease can live in the gut of their carriers for quite a long time. The bacteria can be transmitted as these pests feed and through contact with frass.
Bacterial wilt treatment
Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment. Once a plant is infected, it is too late. Since the infected plant poses a health risk to its neighbors, it should be removed and thrown in the trash. Any tools that came into contact with the plant should be sanitized with a household cleaner, such as Lysol. To reduce the chance of infection, controlling beetle populations and maintaining healthy plants are your best bet.
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