Solving the Squash Bug dilemma...for good!

Zeedman

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An observation regarding squash bugs. I've noticed that some young squash plants would attract swarms of cucumber beetles. In nearly every case, when that plant was examined, it was under attack by at least one adult squash bug. Other plants, with no squash bugs, were not attacked by the beetles to this degree. Apparently the beetles are attracted to plants under stress. It has proven to be a fairly reliable way to detect the first squash bugs. I normally only use this method on Tromboncino, which I grow uncovered due to its strong resistance to SVB.

My preferred method of dealing with squash bugs is to prevent them. The floating row cover that I use to prevent SVB (when conditions allow me to use it) also tends to prevent the first hatch of squash bugs from laying eggs. If they appear though, I kill them with a soap spray. Adults & nymphs are very susceptible to soap spray - provided the spray covers them - and die quickly. Only once did a later infestation occur, probably migrating from the pumpkin patch that was 1/4 mile away that year.

Regarding SVB, I found a new way of dealing with them this year. An extended period of rainfall prevented me from laying floating row cover this year; by the time the ground had finally dried, there were numerous eggs present on every plant. To make matters worse, the cool weather had delayed & extended the period during which the SVB adults were active. I tried to kill the eggs, and did so repeatedly - but eventually all plants became infected.

Wilting had begun, and it looked like all plants would be lost. At that point, no contact poisons could reach the larvae... but what if the holes were cleaned out first? I tried using a battery-operated water pick, with an extended pickup hose so I could use a larger reservoir of water. The water jet cleaned out the frass, and forced out many of the larvae. I then sprayed Neem into all of the now-open holes. There was no further increase in wilting, and all plants have now recovered. I expect that the same results could be had using a pressurized sprayer (the wand would be easier to manage than the water pick) and any of several contact poisons.

A final observation, regarding both squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. Both insects find their host plants through scent; so anything which increases the scent, draws in more bugs. Stress appears to be one factor that increases that scent, as mentioned in my first comment above. Fertilizer, and the rapid growth it promotes, appears to be another. I stopped fertilizing my squash & cucumbers, and have had few problems with the bugs & beetles since. Both were no-shows this year.
 

Dirtmechanic

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An observation regarding squash bugs. I've noticed that some young squash plants would attract swarms of cucumber beetles. In nearly every case, when that plant was examined, it was under attack by at least one adult squash bug. Other plants, with no squash bugs, were not attacked by the beetles to this degree. Apparently the beetles are attracted to plants under stress. It has proven to be a fairly reliable way to detect the first squash bugs. I normally only use this method on Tromboncino, which I grow uncovered due to its strong resistance to SVB.

My preferred method of dealing with squash bugs is to prevent them. The floating row cover that I use to prevent SVB (when conditions allow me to use it) also tends to prevent the first hatch of squash bugs from laying eggs. If they appear though, I kill them with a soap spray. Adults & nymphs are very susceptible to soap spray - provided the spray covers them - and die quickly. Only once did a later infestation occur, probably migrating from the pumpkin patch that was 1/4 mile away that year.

Regarding SVB, I found a new way of dealing with them this year. An extended period of rainfall prevented me from laying floating row cover this year; by the time the ground had finally dried, there were numerous eggs present on every plant. To make matters worse, the cool weather had delayed & extended the period during which the SVB adults were active. I tried to kill the eggs, and did so repeatedly - but eventually all plants became infected.

Wilting had begun, and it looked like all plants would be lost. At that point, no contact poisons could reach the larvae... but what if the holes were cleaned out first? I tried using a battery-operated water pick, with an extended pickup hose so I could use a larger reservoir of water. The water jet cleaned out the frass, and forced out many of the larvae. I then sprayed Neem into all of the now-open holes. There was no further increase in wilting, and all plants have now recovered. I expect that the same results could be had using a pressurized sprayer (the wand would be easier to manage than the water pick) and any of several contact poisons.

A final observation, regarding both squash bugs, and cucumber beetles. Both insects find their host plants through scent; so anything which increases the scent, draws in more bugs. Stress appears to be one factor that increases that scent, as mentioned in my first comment above. Fertilizer, and the rapid growth it promotes, appears to be another. I stopped fertilizing my squash & cucumbers, and have had few problems with the bugs & beetles since. Both were no-shows this year.
That scent can also be masked with essential oils. A product I use contains thyme oil, a very odiferious antifungal.
 

flowerbug

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Not squash bugs but Squash Vine Borers. I did some surgery on my zucchini today and removed these plus killed several more. The most I found in any one plant was four. Most were in the main stem. Most entered fairly low but a few were up fairly far on the stem. A few even entered the leaf stalk, not the main stem. That surprised me.

Bottom line is that my zucchini is history.
View attachment 33054
you can tell i'm cutting down on calories a bit too much when pictures like that make me hungry...
 
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