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GardenSMART :: Eliminate Squash Bugs From Your Garden

Eliminate Squash Bugs From Your Garden

By Stephanie Smith, GardenTech
Photographs courtesy of GardenTech

Squash bugs are among the most prevalent garden bugs. They can do an enormous amount of damage to not only squash plants, but also other cucurbit varieties (cucumbers, melons and pumpkins).

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The adult squash bug is gray and five-eighths of an inch long. Some adults have alternating gold and brown spots on the edge of the abdomen. Adults typically live 75 to 130 days. During the 33 days before becoming adults, nymphs go through five molts, called instars. Nymphs emerge from their eggs green in color and become progressively more gray with each instar. When feeding, they pierce the tissue of squash plant leaves to suck out the juices, while injecting highly toxic saliva into the leaves. This causes the leaves to wilt and die. If too many leaves die, the plant cannot feed itself, so it, too, dies. In some cases, nymphs and adults are infected with the cucurbit yellow vine disease bacterium. So, when they inject their saliva into the plant, the bacterium is transferred. This can be fatal to plants that might otherwise survive the assault of the squash bugs.

Cultural Controls

Cultural controls are gardening practices that reduce the number of pests, including squash bugs, in your garden while keeping your plants healthy. If adult squash bugs have nowhere to overwinter, it is harder for them to invade your cucurbits next season. So, cleaning your gardens of all crop debris, including rocks that shield squash bugs during winter, and then tilling the soil well after harvest, will go a long way toward eliminating these pests. Mulching around cucurbits is counterproductive, as it gives the squash bugs a place to hide. Cucurbits that are not mulched do much better.

Squash bugs like to congregate under objects, such as boards and tarps. You can set these objects in the garden near cucurbit crops, and then destroy the squash bugs that hide under them. Also destroy any egg masses you find on the plants.

Chemical Controls

One of the best ways to control squash bugs and keep your garden healthy is to use an effective chemical control product, such as Sevin®-5 Ready-To-Use 5% Dust. It will only kill squash bugs that it comes in contact with, so be sure to dust the leaves and stems of the plant, as well as the vegetables. Concentrate on dusting the underside of the leaves, where the squash bugs hide; do not dust the blossoms. Apply in the evening to avoid harming bees that visit the plants during the day, and always follow label instructions when using any pesticide.

Squash bugs pose a problem for many vegetable gardeners. By following these recommendations, you can minimize the damage they cause and enjoy more produce from your garden.

Always read the product label and follow the instructions carefully.
Sevin is a registered trademark of Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.


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