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Squash vine borers are native to the eastern US, and by this time of the year, they’re munching on our plants and causing damage. Squash vine borers are different from squash bugs, by the way.

Squash Vine Borer

The telltale signs of an infected plant: rotten stem, sawdust-like substance, and/or wilting leaves. Check the base of the stem. If it looks rotten or hollow or you see a sawdust-like substance, act quickly. If your squash leaves are also wilting, it might be too late to save the plant.

The adult moth resembles a wasp, and here in Georgia, has two broods a year, laying its eggs at the base of the stem. The egg hatches and then the larvae bores itself into the stem. The sawdust-like substance is actually waste from the larvae. The larvae, after doing a number to your squash vine, burrows itself into the soil and pupates the next spring, restarting the cycle.

Larvae

Adult Moth

How to save an infected plant: Slit the stem with a sharp knife and pull the larvae out. Cover the damaged area with plenty of soil to encourage root growth and keep it moist. With a little luck, the squash plant will perk up.

What to do with the larvae: Squish the sucker, but if you can’t stomach that, drop it inside a birdhouse. If you drop it into the soil, it will overwinter and pupate next year.

How to discourage squash vine borers:

  • Till the soil to expose overwintered larvae.
  • Rotate crops.
  • Wrap the base of the stem with pantyhose or foil to prevent egg laying.

Further reading:

  • Clemson Extension (Disregard any non-organic recommendations! But they have great pictures and descriptions.)
  • ATTRA (Organic recommendations!)
Do you have squash vine borers in your garden?
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Squash Bugs

Reports of squash bugs in the garden are coming in, and the damage they cause can make plants susceptible to disease.

This is a squash bug:

This are its eggs:

These are the eggs hatching:

These are the nymphs:

This is the damage squash bugs cause:

The best was to control squash bugs is to cultivate a healthy garden and diverse ecosystem. Physical controls include dropping the bugs in soapy water and smashing the eggs. If that doesn’t work and you’d like to try a spray, Mother Earth News recommends Neem as an ORGANIC pest control. (My favorite place to buy organic garden supplies and get advice is Farmer D’s garden center.)

Additionally, these repellant plans might deter squash bugs: catnip, tansy, radishes, tansy, nasturtiums, marigolds, beebalm, or mints.

The good news is that once your plants are well established, squash bugs aren’t such a big deal. The larger plants can handle a little nibbling.

(Photos copied from this website. IGNORE their insecticidal remedies because we require ORGANIC practices.)

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