Trying to get rid of the dreaded squash bugs from your garden can seem like a daunting task. Especially once they have arrived in full force!
Squash bugs, which are often confused as stink bugs, are a devastating garden pest that can lay waste to otherwise healthy crops.
And they attack much more than just squash.
Squash bugs are more than happy to dine on cucumber plants, zucchini, pumpkins, watermelon, cantaloupe and muskmelon too.
In fact, any member of the cucurbit family is at risk from an attack. And the attacks are simply devastating!
Squash Bug Damage
Squash bugs have super-sharp mouths that literally suck the sap from healthy plants.
As they bite into the vines and foliage of plants, they release a toxin that is deadly to the plant.
Small plants can be decimated in just a day or two. Large plants may be able to keep a portion of their foliage alive, but are left heavily damaged.
After an attack, the plant will begin to have a few yellow spots appear on it’s leaves. Within a day or two, the leaves begin to wilt and rot away.
And as the toxin continues to spread throughout the plant, more and more foliage begins to wilt.
Eventually, what once was a thriving plant just a few days before, becomes nothing more than a mass of dead foliage.
But there are effective ways to get rid of squash bugs from your garden. And of course, save your plants at the same time.
It really comes down to being aware and on the lookout for early signs, and acting quickly to contain it.
How To Get Rid Of Squash Bugs
Be On The Lookout!
The first line of defense is to be proactive. It is vital to keep an eye out in the garden and look for early signs of squash bug activity.
Adult squash bugs look very much like the common stink bug, but have an orange-like stripe across both their abdomen, and on the sides of their shell-like body.
Adults overwinter either in the garden soil, or in nearby wood piles or brush. When they emerge, they head to the plants to mate.
Squash bugs lay their eggs on the undersides of plants. And these eggs can take up to 10 days to hatch.
It is during this time that you need to be diligent in finding and removing both the adults and the eggs.
The best way to get rid of squash bugs and their eggs at this stage is simply by hand picking.
If you can remove them before they arrive, the damage can be controlled quite well. If not, a newly hatched set of squash bugs can lay waste to a plant and garden quickly.
One of the most effective ways to control squash bugs is by employing the power of companion planting. See : Companion Planting 101 – Why What You Plant Where Matters.
Nasturtiums, radish, dill and marigolds are all known to repel squash bugs quite effectively.
By planting these crops nearby the plants affected by squash bugs, you can help keep them at bay.
Using Row Covers To Get Rid Of Squash Bugs
Another effective way to control squash bug damage is through the use of floating row covers. Especially when plants are young.
Squash bugs will mate early, and if young crops are covered, they are unable to lay their eggs on the plants.
Place floating row covers on soon after planting, removing only when the first flowers begin to appear. This will allow for proper pollination of crops, but give enough time for the squash bug mating period to pass.
As with any garden pest, crop rotation is a vital and important strategy to keep squash bugs at bay.
By moving crops to a new location from year to year, the eggs, larva and adults are unable to “set up shop” and infest one set area.
Moving crops to a new location in the garden each season will help tremendously in the battle against all insects!
Here is to getting rid of squash bugs in your garden!
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