If we were to choose one symbol to represent autumn, the pumpkin would likely be it. From Halloween to eating pumpkins in those Thanksgiving pies, and even cookies and soups, pumpkins are synonymous with the fall season. You can visit a farm or the grocery store for pumpkins, but there’s a special satisfaction in growing your very own pumpkin patch. But what about dealing with pumpkins and pests?

Do Pumpkins Attract Pests?

Pumpkins, especially those destined to be jack-o’-lanterns, are indeed attractive to pests. Carving pumpkins to create spooky jack-o’-lanterns leaves them exposed and become prime food sources for various pests. Fruit flies are particularly drawn to the scent of decaying pumpkin flesh, while mice and rats find the pumpkin seeds irresistible.

Pumpkins And Pests

Pumpkins belong to the squash family, specifically the winter squash category, classifying them as fruits. Like all fruit, pumpkins do, indeed, attract pests. Also like all types of fruits, pumpkins attract specific types of pests. If you’re planning on growing pumpkins, the following are some of the different types of pests you could potentially encounter:

  • Squash bugs: These oval-shaped, flat insects are drawn to all types of squash, pumpkins included. They poke through the tissues and feed on the sap, which can result in serious damage to the plant.
  • Vine borers: The larva of moths and vine borers tunnel into pumpkin vines (hence the name), sucking out all the nutrients to the plant, and ultimately killing it.
  • Cucumber beetles: Greenish-yellow in color and small in stature, cucumber beetles are notorious for munching up the leaves of pumpkin plants.
  • Deer: Deer love pumpkins, so if you reside in an area with a large population of deer, you just might find these docile and majestic critters dining in your patch.

Why Are Pests Attracted To Pumpkins?

There are several factors that could attract critters to pumpkins. Some of the most common factors that could potentially contribute to a pest infestation include:


Excessive amounts of moisture can draw pests to the soil, and those pests can end up damaging the pumpkins.


Pumpkins emit a distinctive odor that many pests find appealing. Animals, especially deer, raccoons, and rats, are attracted to the odor and often munch on the fruit


Pumpkins are prone to a variety of diseases. Diseased plants are weak, and pests are attracted to weakened plants.


Pests can take up shelter in weeds, so if there are a lot of weeds in your pumpkin patch, don’t be surprised if pests arrive.

How To Prevent Pest Infestation

To avoid pest infestation, it’s important to be proactive. Use the following measures to keep pests away from your pumpkins.

  • Water suitably: Only water your pumpkins as needed.
  • Inspect regularly: Inspect your pumpkin plants regularly to check for signs of infestations. If you spot any unwanted critters, you can take appropriate action before the problem worsens.
  • Organic pest control: Apply organic pest control, such as insecticidal soaps or neem oil, to your plants.
  • Fencing: To keep animals away, like deer and raccoons, enclose your pumpkin patch in a fence.
  • Petroleum Jelly: To deter these critters, consider using petroleum jelly on the young pumpkin or even the carved surface to make it less appealing.
  • Proper Disposal: Properly disposing of leftover pumpkin flesh and seeds can also help keep unwanted visitors at bay.

Keep Your Pumpkins Pest-Free

Pumpkins do attract common pumpkin pests; however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plant them or add them as decoration around your home. There are several things that you can do to keep critters away. With proper planning, patience, and due diligence, you can successfully cultivate and keep your pumpkins, pest-free this fall.

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