Keep your squash plants safe from squash bugs and borers this year with these organic control tips!
Squash bugs are the bane of every gardener’s existence – at least, every gardener who grows squash! We were lucky enough not to have any our first year gardening here, but last year they arrived in droves. Fortunately for my squash plants, the squash bugs arrived late enough in the season that we still had a fairly decent showing – at least of the summer varieties. The winter squash crop was hit harder as the squashes weren’t mature yet, so the vines died before they sweetened up.
This year, I shall be armed with some of the suggestions listed below from UrbanFarm.org.
We don’t have squash borers here (although we do have other similar insects which bore into the tomato plants and tomatillos), but if you have these creepy-crawly critters, I have heard they can be very destructive to your squash plants.
Try these methods for dealing with these pesky squash pests:
1.) Start your squash seed in little pots, and give them a protective “field dressing” when planting out.
This “dressing” is made out of either strips of garden frost cloth or gauze and will be wrapped around the stalk at the base of each plant. When I finally sink my plants into my garden beds I will let this “field dressing” go a bit below the soil line. Fast forward to the fly-by from my nemesis, the squash vine borer. She will take one look at this gauzy stuff placed strategically right where she wants to lay her eggs and say, “Oh, dear, what is this I see? This is obviously NOT a place I want to lay my future offspring!”…
2.) Mix up a sprayer full of Bt…Bacillus thuringiensis, that is.
If any moth is foolish enough to lay her eggs above the “field dressing line,” her larvae will hatch and eat into the stem of the plant, at the same time ingesting the bacteria that will be its undoing. Maw ha ha! The Bt will have to be reapplied after each rain. Don’t worry, Bt is organic and safe even for the toads in the garden.
Speaking of toads, let me introduce you to my evening ally in the garden. The garden toad is a voracious eater of insects. With a tongue that moves at 15 hundredths of a second, he is well equipped for it. So, how do I make sure I have lots of these great insect eaters on my side?… I am going to clean up and put a vacancy sign on my toad abode…
3.) Do a daily garden patrol.
I also plan on doing a sweep of the garden each night in the cool of the evening with three other weapons in my arsenal: Duct tape, Captain Jack’s Insecticide and copper wire.
A wrapping of duct tape around your fingers, sticky side out, makes a great egg collecting tool. Collect all the squash bug eggs from the underside of the leaves on your sticky tape and throw them away. The eggs can’t be missed as they are reddish brown in color. If laid by squash bugs they will be in clumps on the underside of the leaves. If laid by the vine moth borer they will be single tiny eggs near the stalk of the plant where it meets the ground.
Captain Jack’s is something new I am using this year. My fellow gardeners at the community garden swear by it. Although it is considered organic, it will harm beneficial insects like bees. So only dust the base of the plant, being careful to avoid the blossoms…
One of our own readers here at Urban Farm U suggested having a bit of copper wire on hand. If you find your plant has already been bored into, you can stick that wire up the inside of the stem and pierce your nemesis right through the heart! A little dramatic, I know, but I really like the buttery taste of summer squash!