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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

This Threat is Real

My war with the ants may have been unwarranted and imaginary, but a familiar foe has emerged in the garden. This foe is capable of far more damage than those ants 'were inflicting'. This foe is damaging from the time it hatches, sucking your plants till they fall over limp. Few sprays or chemicals work on it. You literally have to hunt it down and ATTACK!.

Oh don't be fooled. It looks harmless as a fly. But these things are known to take down 150' rows of squash plants.
Yes, I am now being attacked by the squash bug. The photo above is the squash bug nymph. This is the easiest stage to capture and kill them at --- well, other than the egg stage.
You can find the eggs on the backs (sometimes the tops) of squash leaves. (This includes all members of the squash family: melons, cukes, pumpkins, etc..).
I caught a couple of them mating this weekend. So I started searching for eggs and sure enough, I found plenty. There's no way I have them all, but I will be out there daily. I've already found some damage too. I surely hope I can save this one:
I am glad squash bugs can't read, so I am free to share my strategies with you:
1. Use duct tape to remove eggs and nymphs from leaves every other day.
2. Pull mulch away from the stems so that there is no safe shelter for them to feed from.
3. Lay boards out at night next to the stems. The squash bugs will navigate there. First thing in the morning - ATTACK!.
4. I am thinking about removing all mulch from that bed so they have no place to hide. But it gets so hot here; not sure the plants would survive that any better than the squash bugs.
5. At the end of the season, I will leave a trap crop. Once all the squash bugs navigate to it; ATTACK!.
6. I am going to tape the stems (where they meet the ground) so that the sticky side of the tape is facing outward; hopefully trapping the bugs. I'll use clear tape so I don't blanch the stem.
7. I am trying to figure out how to make some sort of collar to go around the stem that will hold water, so they will get trapped in the soapy water as they try to get to the stem; refreshing the tape as needed.
8. Vacuum - I have read that some gardeners use a low power vacuum to vaccum their leaves and around the stems. They then dump the contents (which is usually eggs, nymphs, and even some adults) into a bowl of soapy water. I will definitely do this, just because I think it would be neat to vacuum my garden....lol.
You could also water your stems with a water hose to send the bugs running. When they start running, ATTACK!.
If you aren't aware of the damage squash bug can do, please google it. You definitely want to know what they look like, but I failed to get a good picture of the adults. If you see them in your beds, take action fast. They multiple rapidly and you can quickly become infested. They don't have many natural enemies to keep them in check and most sprays are ineffective on the adults.
In a word, my plan is to ATTACK!. LOL! I am so silly.


  1. I have seen these before but very seldom. Will be looking at my squash now that you have mentioned it though.

  2. I had some weird orange bugs on my tomatoes one year, the last year I was able to plant veggies. I used the wand on my regular bagless vacuum and it worked great.