Ok, I give up..squash vine borers

gnheltonAugust 4, 2012

Second year running we cannot keep squash or zuk squash. We get about month's worth of growth then gone. Second year 100% organic.

Soap, no luck. Cleaning the stem once a week no help, running a needle into the stem after infection is no help. Slitting the stem is worthless vine stays stunted. Companion planting is ineffective. Infection is 100% both years. Compost tea is great for the plant but no help.

BT doesn't sound like it will work against them.

Which poison has the least side effects that will work. 5% sevin? Thought about wetting up a small batch and painting it along the bottom of stem.

But if we want squash(which we do) we going to have to do something.

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I also gave up because of squash vine borers. Now I grow climbing zucchini - it has solid vines so the borers can't bother it. It is a little slower to start producing, since it likes hot weather, and needs a very strong trellis to climb, but we like the taste of the squash better, and the squash grows even without fertilization, so no seeds form which is nice. Anyway, it's one option to consider. Butternut squash, also, has solid vines - grow that instead of acorn.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 9:12PM
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Squash bugs and squash vine borers can be problems, especially in relatively new gardens or gardens where the soi is not yet in a balanced state, a good, healthy soil.
Have you tried Floating Row Covers?
Have the stems the borers have been found in been buried in soil? Slitting the stems or poking a needle into the stem is only done to kill the larva known to be there. The BTK is only effective for a short time after the larva hatches.
What is your soil like? What is the soils pH?
How much organic matter is in that soil?
How well does that soil drain?
How well does that soil retain moisture?
What kind of life is in that soil?
What did a soil test say about nutrient levels and balance?

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 6:25AM
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Have you tried Floating Row Covers?
No, would prefer not to have the added expense, upkeep and hassle of harvesting.

Have the stems the borers have been found in been buried in soil? Yes. Saved a few but the stress I guess to the plant caused it to not bear much after that.
Slitting the stems or poking a needle into the stem is only done to kill the larva known to be there. Right, but it seems to be kind of useless anyway.

The BTK is only effective for a short time after the larva hatches. So, no help there.

What is your soil like? What is the soils pH? ~6.0

How much organic matter is in that soil? Tons. Chipped leaves from the fall before. Worm compost tea. Worm Compost. Compost. Straw.

How well does that soil drain? Very well.

How well does that soil retain moisture? Very well but it had been a brutally hot summer but kept it watered with drip irrigation.

What kind of life is in that soil? You name it. More bugs than I can ever ID. Black crickets, wolf spiders, green lacewigs, lady bugs, (stink bugs).. Even had a yellow jackets make their home there. Had to get shed of them.

What did a soil test say about nutrient levels and balance? Haven't done that.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:09PM
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Spiders, lacewings, Lady Bugs, and Yellow Jackets are beneficial, they are not soil dwellers. What about earthworms, millipedes, Roly Polys and Sowbugs, etc. those that dwell in the soil and convert organic matter into the nutrients the plants need?
What percentage of organic matter is in the soil. Tons may not be enough.
Nutrient imbalances are known to make plants more attractive to insect pests.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:31AM
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Tatume is also immune to SVB.
Farmers with large fields of squash out in the middle of nowhere do not have problems with SVB. The theory is that something in the urban environment attracts them. Some say it is lights. Some insist it is not. No one knows for sure what it is. But if you want to grow squash organically, plant in a field in the middle of nowhere.

Here is a link that might be useful: GardenForNutrition

    Bookmark   August 10, 2012 at 9:21PM
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Solution to squash vine borers. When you plant your squash take a nylon pantyhose,preferable knee hi's and start at the base of your plant and wrap it around the stem all the way up as far as you can get it. leave it hanging and as the plant grows continue to wrap it around. The nylon will allow your stem to expand. For reinforcement you can put aluminum foil around the nylon also. You should have healthy plants. It's been proven to work by me. I had given up on squash until I got this remedy. I took a bamboo skewer to prop up the remaining panty pose to keep it off the ground.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 10:20PM
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I've heard a lot of folks say this solution, but frankly I don't see how it can work that well, since I find so many eggs laid on leafs and leaf stems. I can see how you are protecting the main vine, but how do you keep the eggs off of the leaves and further up the vine? Wouldn't the SVB just attack further up the vine and cause their damage up there?
If you do what you suggest, I would still think you would need to be vigilant and keep picking off the eggs that are laid further up. At least they are easier to see there, as opposed to the ones laid right at the base of the plant.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2012 at 11:30PM
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You want to beat the boogers? Here is what you do.
1. Seed or transplant under floating row covers.

2. Remove Row Cover when plant begins to flower.

3. Apply a dusting of Sevin to the base of the plant.

4. Inject the stem of the plant with Spinosad solution once a week.

I guarantee , no borers. BTW, it's worthwhile to purchase a Squash Vine Borer lure kit. It traps the males only BUT is valuable for telling you when they begin to fly and when they have stopped so you can time your pesticide applications accordingly.

Also, the quality of your soil has absolutely NOTHING to doing with Squash Vine Borer attacks.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 4:00PM
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I've been injecting affected portions of my vines with BT, when I see any signs of frass or yellowing vines. Also, since I have read that BT doesn't work against bigger larva , I have been worried about the BT not killing them, but have been reluctant to split open the vines with a knife. So I have used electrical wire, and pushed it down the hole. The wire has the insulation removed, exposing some of the copper wire, and that has been effective in harpooning and extracting them for me, without having to cut open the vine. But again I worry I have missed some. So I usually inject the area heavily with BT, after I do the wire extraction. So I was wondering if instead of injecting BT, if injecting with a soapy water would be as effective. With my syringe, I could flush out the area with the soapy water, and hopefully kill any other remaining larva inside the vine? Has anyone tried this? Its cheap, and in theory seems like it should work, only concern would be if it harmed the plant.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2012 at 12:28AM
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I have the same problem...a 10x12' plot only allows for about 6 plants...I can't plant more and have tried in pots but they don't last long (even huge pots.) I've tried row covers, wrapping bottom of stems in nylon stockings, tin foil, plastic cups and so on...NOTHING WORKS.

Last year, was the year I said this will either make or break me! I discovered BENEFICIAL NEMATODES at 'garden's alive.' You pre order them and they send them when ever they are ready...they need to be put in the garden that very day or the next...they are live eggs. I wait until we are in the 60 degree range. it may take a few weeks for the order to be filled so be aware! ANYWAY, I mixed them in a watering can and watered my garden and the surrounding area with these nematodes...they are small worm-like creatures that actively seek out beetles and their larvae...they will even infect the mother moth if they can...and drill into her body and eat her alive (ick). Results aren't overnight, because they are live infecting creatures and (totally organic.) I call it biological warfare.

Last year, my zucchini's lasted until the frost (they always die by the first week in august with vine borers despite my diligence.) I have always gotten more than 50 zucchinis over the years, two years ago I got a few because of the borers...After using the nematodes, last year I had only 1 plant become infested with SVB in late july, but the other's were ok. The ones in the pots were infested because all of the rain drowned the poor nematodes right out the bottom (they also had ground cover over the dirt and wrapped over the stems but still the SVB got it.

Unfortunately last year was the worst year to test the theory because we had 4 heat-waves (several days of over 100 degrees) and lost the entire spring (mar-jun) to torrential rain...we are in New England so these conditions aren't normal. I only got 1 squash last year but the thing was that the plants were vibrant, and healthy and never wilted! Unfortunately due to the weather stress, they only produced male flowers (even after I pollinated them daily with a soft paint brush.) BUT that one squash was harvested in OCTOBER...well beyond the life of any squash plant I or my neighbors have ever grown!!!

I will definitely try the nematodes again but after this super-harsh winter of 2013-2014, I have no idea what to expect from summer weather. Good luck and I suggest nematodes in late spring and then another dose in early July to be sure!!!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:42AM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I thought this was an organic forum. No recommendations of Sevin please.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:06PM
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Having lost all my squash to svb's 2 years ago I moved my squash to a different area and kept a vigil. I did slice open 1 plant to see what and where the larvae was. I proceeded to poke a hole (very small) every 1/4 inch 2-4 inches above frass. Then I put soil over the stem and watered heavily for a few days and all plants survived until frost. I think this year I may try row covers but I worry about taking it off for pollination and having the bugs anyway. I like the nylon technique and may try that also. They are brutal, but don't give up as every year is different. FWIW

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 6:25PM
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"3. Apply a dusting of Sevin to the base of the plant."

Totally unacceptable to any organic grower.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:44AM
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emmers_m(9a/Sunset 7 N Cal)

Thanks, little_minnie and kimmsr for both taking the time to yell at a years-old post instead of responding to the thoughtful and organic post of a few days ago.

Annizoe, I'm very encouraged to hear of your success in keeping the squash plants alive, at least. It seems very telling that the potted squash all got infested vs. the ones in the ground. (I.e. it wasn't just a very low population year.) I'm very interested to hear of your experiences this year.

Personally I spent one year dealing with SVB, decided that was enough of that, have planted nothing but c. moschata squashes since and haven't looked back.

It's the patented 'avoidance technique' of organic gardening:)

But if the nematodes work that sounds like a strategy I could get behind. Row covers, injections, etc. are all a bit too fussy for me.


    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 8:04AM
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