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Pumpkin Pests Away: 5 Steps to Pest-Free Pumpkins this Halloween

by Same Patterson

Halloween is just around the corner, and with this celebration of all things spooky growing evermore popular in Australia, pumpkin sales are on the rise. However, while you and your kids are preparing to feast on bucket loads of lollies and treats, pests are rubbing their paws and wings together in anticipation of the rich, orange flesh soon to be on offer. 

Mold, squirrels and fruit flies will be the main pests responsible for making short work of your proud pumpkin display. If you fail to prepare for them, they could leave your pumpkins looking like the walking dead--a soggy, gnawed, sickly sweet-smelling mess.

To save yourself a Halloween headache this year, follow these steps to keep pests at bay. 

Carve Your Pumpkins Patiently

As the excitement builds, it can be tempting to carve your pumpkins early. However, when carving your Jack O' Lantern, remember that pumpkins typically last about a week before succumbing to decay and the elements. Wait until a day or two before Halloween night to ensure your pumpkins don't rot too early. Rotting or fermenting pumpkins are a source of joy for marauding swarms of fruit flies

Gut Them Thoroughly

Cut a sizable hole in the top of your pumpkin and then, using a metal implement such as a tablespoon, scoop out as much of the pulp as you can. The more pulp you leave, the more likely a chance there is of mold taking hold, followed by pests such as fruit flies, especially in wet areas like Queensland.  

Use Vinegar, Lemon Juice, or Bleach to Keep Pests Away

You can ward off pests by using the following substances: 

  • White vinegar: To keep squirrels and other rodents away, sprinkle some white vinegar around your pumpkin. The smell will keep them away.
  • Lemon Juice: Coat the exterior of your pumpkin in lemon juice before carving. This helps to stop browning. Browning leads to rot, which in turn leads to pests. 
  • Bleach: To kill the bacteria that cause rotting, add a tablespoon of bleach to one gallon of water, add the solution to a spray bottle and spray all cut areas as well as the inside.

Let Them Loose When the Sun Sets

The ideal temperature for pumpkins is between 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit, they are a fruit after all. Summer is approaching and the warmer temperatures of the daytime will only serve to speed up the decomposition process, attracting pests of all kinds.  

Refrigerate Your Pumpkins Overnight

Put your pumpkins in the refrigerator overnight to slow the decomposition process. 

Plan to Display Them for a Week

Display your pumpkins for about a week, even if you follow all the above tips. The last thing you need is to attract a family of mice, or a swarm of fruit flies. 

With these measures in place, you'll be free to enjoy this newly popular tradition the Aussie way. However, remember to remove all traces of pumpkin waste from your porch or lawn once the celebrations are over, as pests may continue to hang around in the hopes of finding something else to satisfy their appetite. For more advice, contact a pest inspection service.

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