I haven’t talked about my garden in a while, so here is an update. The squash bugs are my number one enemy at the moment. The thing about these borrowing jerks is that you don’t realize the damage they have caused until it’s too late. They borrow through the plant’s core, down where it protrudes from the earth. At first, the plant can take the abuse, but then slowly it wilts and dies. Leaving your precious squash (and cantaloupe apparently) to wither and croak along with the plant. Usually, this happens about mid-way through the growing season, meaning it’s too late to replant and hope for the best.
The book The Naturally Bug Free Garden: Controlling Pest Insects without Chemicals, by Anna Hess, has been a great little book I picked up at the library. The pictures are bold and plentiful, and I like when she expresses her dark side in regards so slaying bugs. She jokes about feeding bugs to her chickens or just squishing them in her hand, depending on her mood. Hess also gave me the idea of just snipping pests in half with my garden shears. I have to say, rather morbid, but it’s pretty satisfying to chop off the head of a squash bug. They don’t run very fast.
Here is how I am handling my nemesis based on books and articles, as well as trial and error. Besides snipping the adults in half, I also survey the leaves for eggs and babies. The adults I deal with by stepping on them, layering extra dirt around the base of the plant to try to discourage borrowing, and spraying diluted Neem Oil on the base.
The babies squish easily, so squish-squish, bye-bye. The eggs are different, as they are hard and I have been damaging the leaves by clipping them off or just the part of the leafs the eggs are on. I then throw them away or burn them if we are having a fire. I just read about using duct tape on the eggs to remove them from the leaf! Genius! Going to try this tonight.
On average I find at least one cluster of eggs a day, I’m leaving home for a week of vacation and worried about what I may come home to. The war on bugs will have to continue without me soldiering up for a few days. What catastrophe will I return to? Only time will tell.
Here is a baby Patty Pan Squash and a baby Cantaloupe, hopefully, they will survive long enough to get eaten by me, not by the bugs.
Ugggg!! I feel your pain! We have struggled with squash vine borers for the past 2 years! Watch out for those suckers! Squash bugs will destroy your squash and leaves- but squash vine borers burrow and eat you plants from the inside out. This year, I used floating row covers until the plants were flowering and needed to be pollinated- then I uncovered them. This has been the best harvest I’ve had in a few years. I haven’t seen any signs of them yet- but I did notice one of their moths on my plant the other day. I squashed (haha) the moth (big, red and black thing, looks more like a bee than a month) and crossed my fingers, hoping it hasn’t laid any eggs! The moths lay the squash vine borer eggs in the soil, then they hatch and bore into the plant at the base. SVBs will cause the plant to wilt and look like it needs water, but the plant is really dying from the inside. Look at the base of your plants- if you see what looks like saw dust, you have SVBs. If you break open you plant near where you see the sawdust looking stuff, you’ll find a big fat worm enjoying your plant! If you have SVBs- the eggs can overwinter- so if you think you have them, I’d definitely rotate where you plant your squash the following year!
Thanks for the gardening book recommendation! 😊
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Oh man! Now I have more than one squash enemy.