Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Battling Squash Bugs

UPDATE: It seems that I have two issues at hand. Although I do have squash bugs, they have not been causing the damage I believed them to be. A reader was very helpful in pointing out that the problems I am having are more likely to come from Vine Borers! Although I do have the Squash Bugs, I haven't seen any damage that is associated with them. (Not that I'm gonna let them continue eating my plants! lol) Please see the comment below by "elle mental" for a wonderful explanation and solution if your vines are being eaten from the inside out by Vine Borers.

I cannot believe it has taken me this long to figure it out. For the last few years, I have been so frustrated with my squash crops.

This year I have finally figured out what is wrong! Squash Bugs are my nemesis. I was checking out some favorite Facebook page and saw someone reference the little "stink bug look alikes" and decided to check mine for them. What did I find? Armies of little bugs eating up my squash plants!

Since then I have lost one of my plants, and I don't think my others will survive the season. I am so grateful to finally know what was causing the sudden die off of my plants though. Since I discovered them, I have been picking off the visible bugs, toss them in a cup of water and feed them to the chickens. Boy did they enjoy that! Some other ideas I have found for ridding your garden of Squash Bugs without insecticide are:

  • Use duct tape to peel the eggs off before they hatch
  • After watering, walk through the plants and pick off the bugs. They will climb to the top when the plant is soaked from the water.
  • Use a mixture of Dawn/water in a spray bottle and spray the base of the plant where the bugs live. It supposedly kills them in seconds. I have not tried this method.
The main thing to remember is to start preventing them early! If I had realized what was attacking them earlier, I could have saved my plants. Now I know what to do next year. This is what I love about gardening, everything is a constant learning process!

Linked to:

Frugally Sustainable


  1. huh. i wonder if this is what happened to my squash plants last year? they were beautiful and had flowers and everything... i even used a q-tip to help the male flowers mate with the females.. and the flowers just died. no fruit. mrawh! i'll keep an eye next time i plant squash. thank goodness for good 'ole farmers markets! :)

    I am co-hosting a new linky party called Fresh Foods Wednesday - i would love it if you'd come share this post (or any other CSA collections, farmer's market hauls, garden harvests, seasonal recipes or related food rants) with us. Hope to see you there!

    1. Thank you for the invitation! I have linked up my post!

  2. If the stems and thick vines are riddled with holes and there is orangish "Frash", (bug poop), coming out of the holes, you have Vine Borers. They actually bore into the vines and eat them from the inside. If you see the symptoms, you can do a couple of things: take a sharp bladed knife and make a lengthwise slit in the vine in the part of the stem that is ahead of the borer, (you can tell because of the damaged vs. undamaged growth which direction it is heading, the damage is always behind it), make a deep slit and when you see the borer, cut it in half or pick it out. Or if you like you can get BT (Bacillus Thuringiensis also called Dipel), this organic product is a worm disease that paralyzes their digestive tract. This also works great for Cabbage Looper worms Dust it on the plants when you start to see the white moths flying around your cabbages). Get a hypodermic needle with a large shunt from your local farm animal supply store, make a liquid from the Dipel powder or if you can find it get the liquid form, draw up a syringe full and inject the fluid directly in the path of the borer. It will consume it and die shortly thereafter. I use this method more as a preventative, by injecting my healthy squash plants close to the ground and along the thick vines and stems so that when the borers invade I have the product already in place. This minimizes damage and stress on the plants.After the damaged plants have been treated cover the damaged areas where the borers have feasted with dirt. If the plants aren't too far gone they will grow roots along the stems that you cover, which will strengthen the plant and it may still produce for you. In any case you want to destroy the borers so the worms don't reach maturity and go to ground to pupate, to become next years problem. Another thing that can be done is to give them no food source until after they come out in early June. In the south this is possible, planting in April and being done by the time the wasp like moths emerge in June, or waiting until Mid July to plant squash, after the moths have gone to find a food source in someone else's garden.Hope this helps next year! Elle

    1. elle mental - That sounds more likely! The main stem is completely hollow and has a awful orange color to it. Thank you so much for your reply! I am definitely going to look for the Dipel.

  3. *correction, Frass not Frash... ;)