There is a bug that is very attracted to the squash plant and it is called the squash vine bug. It never ceases to amaze me that they find the squash plants no matter where you plant them in your garden. This year my squash are half an acre away from where I planted squash last year. It has probably been 3 years since I had squash in this bed. Last year and the year before there were no signs of the squash bug - yet this year, I have discovered numerous adult bugs on squash vines.
are easily identifiable with their grayish black "shield" back.They
overwinter in debris laying near the garden bed. Those that reach the
adult stage before winter will survive through the winter. They become
active when the weather turns warm in the spring and move to wherever
there is squash germinating. They can migrate from quite far, so control
of this bug is always ongoing.
By June they are laying eggs which
are very unique, golden, oval shaped, very hard, just a bit larger than
pin head sized eggs. They are typically laid in groupings on the
underside of the squash leaf. If these eggs hatch and the nymphs
survive, they will grow to adulthood, mate, and hatch out another
generation of nymphs before the cold weather sets in. The nymphs that
make it to adulthood will overwinter in debris left around the garden
beds until the next season. So, it is a good idea to clean up your
garden beds leaving them no where to hide.
Squash bugs are often
the most destructive insect pest of winter squash and pumpkins. Both
nymphs and adults attack the plants by sucking sap from the vines of the
plants causing enough damage to prematurely kill the plant. To the
unknowing gardener, the squash plant will look just fine one day, and
the next day it will be wilted and obviously dying. Once it hits the
wilt stage, bringing it back is doubtful.
Controlling squash bugs
requires diligence and persistence. Make frequent inspections of your
squash plants. I pretty much expect that they will be there sooner or
later and I'm just looking to identify when they have settled in. Cold
winters are helpful in destroying squash bug populations. Mulches will
help them survive. Mulched squash plants harbor far more squash bugs
than those planted in bare ground.
Diatomaceous Earth spread
around the base of the plant will provide some control - especially for
the new nymphs as their bodies are still soft and will be exposed to the
diatomes. Sprays made with soap, oil, and water will penetrate the
shell and offer some control. Pyrethrins and Pyola also offer good
Squash bug patrol is a good job for the young
gardener. I often have the younger kids locate the bugs, then squash
them between two rocks. Locating the eggs is another job the younger
children can do. However, those eggs are hard to destroy as the shells
are so hard and sprays are ineffective on them. What I have found
effective is to take a small, stiff, artists paint brush and an ice
cream bucket around. After finding a grouping of eggs, I set my bucket
under the leaf and brush the eggs into the bucket. I'm pretty careful
about what I do with that bucket too as those eggs can hatch anywhere.
Most times I just put the lid on it and set it in the sun until the egg
laying season is over, then I throw it away. I recently read a post
where the gardener was vacuuming them up with a wet/dry vac. I thought
that was very resourceful and somewhat hilarious. If you try that method
you need to take care not to suck up the plants too.