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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Squash Bugs

I have given a name to my pain, and that name is squash bug. If you aren't familiar with squash bugs, they are angry, petty little pests that are just trying to get revenge by eating, and killing the squash plants in your garden. They are mad that they have a dumb uninspired name and they insist that in this world of political correctness we call them what they really are "Squash Insects." The term bug is just insulting to them.

Blurry image of squash bugs. It's hard to take pictures of the bugs as they curry away at the first sign of movement
You might think that I am anthropomorphizing a little too much but trust me, these bugs are out for me and trying to voice their displeasure with a vengeance. The sad part is that it is the innocents that have to suffer. My zucchini is taking the brunt of their abuse, but they also killed two of our pumpkin plants and are trying to take out my acorn squash as well.  

Plant damaged by squash bugs

I found some good information on squash bug at this link managed by the Colorado State University extension. It gives good information on the life cycle of the squash bug and it lists some  methods for getting rid of the pests.

Squash bugs are very hardy so the best way to get rid of them is to check your squash leaves early in the spring. You will see patches of eggs on the underside. I just squish the eggs and wipe them off of the leaves.

Squash bug eggs on the underside of leaf
If you don't catch them early, one of the best methods I have used to get rid of them is to lay small boards or cardboard at the base of your squash plants. Many of the bugs will hide under the boards at night. If you check under the boards early in the morning you can kill them using organic squishing methods.

According to the CSU article you can also spread Diatomaceous earth/pyrethrins applications around the base of the plan. This is an organic method, but I can't vouch for it as I haven't used it. There are also insecticides and pesticides that might work but I am not a fan of them as I want my bees to be safe.

What do you do to rid your garden of the vile squash bug?



David said...

Michael, I don't do anything with squash bugs. By the time the little buggers kill the plants, I'm tired of eating zucchini and squash anyway. I just pull up the plants and pitch them in the garbage. They can have their way at the land fill.

Have a great bug squishing day.

Sunnybrook Farm said...

If they aren't bad enough we have some new one that is spotted and more like a beetle. I spray with insecticide early on to try and reduce numbers but the vine bores are what usually kills my plants.
I am thinking that some kind of netting might be worth the trouble if it would keep bugs off of squash.

stoneyacres said...

You are on the right track! The key to controlling squash bugs is to get rid of those eggs! Also squishing the adults. Here in Utah there are usually at least 2 generations a year sometimes more. So if you see adult bugs in June then they have laid eggs that will hatch and be adults in August. Get after them quick!!

Carol Pack Urban said...

I've never seen a squash bug but your post has me going out to check the plants right now!

Tomato Thymes said...

Be glad if you do not have these pests. Thanks for the cardboard around the base of the plant. I usually try to platnt them later in the season and keep them covered.

laurel crisafulli said...

"organic squishing methods"

Very technical! Glad not to have had to deal with those suckers!

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

I've had a terrible infestation in my garden this summer too. I've done two things that I am trying to share because they are both new to me.

1. I take packing tape and make a circle around my hand, with the sticky side out. Then I collect all the eggs on the tape, as well as any bugs I can find, too. All in the tape. It honestly works amazingly well. And I plan to do a post about it tomorrow AM with pics.

2. I dust everything with Azomite (rock dust). I've been adding it to my soil all spring and summer because it's awesome to add back in trace minerals. But it turns out bugs hate it. Win, win!

Unfortunately, I didn't start doing this until the bugs had been in my garden for about a week because I was out of town and then didn't realize what they were at first. But next year, I will do this from day #1. I've lost a few plants already this year but hoping my daily efforts will keep the others hanging on until the fruit is ripe in a month or two.


Jess Chandler said...

Squash bugs are driving me batty, too! I yank 'em off the cucumber and squash plants and, using "organic squishing methods," I squish those little buggers. The Diatomaceous earth will work for bugs, but it loses its effectiveness when wet, so it isn't ideal for cucumber/squash plants that LOVE the water!

Mike said...

David: I agree, I am done with Zucchini so it doesn't bother me with them but they killed my pumpkin before I could get any.

Sunnybrook farm: I wonder if netting would work. Let me know if you try it.

Stoneyacres: Thanks for the feedback. I didn't check for eggs in the spring so I am paying the price now. I will have to do better next year.

Carol: I bet you don't have them if your squash haven't started showing signs of distress. Hopefully you don't find any.

Tomato Thymes: It's good to hear that keeping them covered helps. I will have to remember that.

Preppy Pink Crocodile: I love the idea of using packing tape. I am excited to try it. I will have to try Azomite too.

Jess:Sounds like we are in the same boat in regards to squishing them.

Esther said...

I have found that cayenne pepper in water, sprayed at the base and in the stems and leaves also repels them, but you have to so all the plants so it wouldn't work for a large back yard garden.

Anonymous said...

I have heard of this remedy and spread dill seed around the base of the plant. If the dill grows, even better. they do not like dill!!! It works.