Tried everything to get rid of Squash Bugs!

suzyann13July 24, 2007

I have squash bugs. I've been gardening for 20 years, and I know how to get rid of them, but I was hoping to get a more organic way. I stopped growing squash two years ago because I was sick of the squash bug fight, but I wanted one more time to try it.

I only have the bugs on ONE plant--the Australian blue squash (or blue pumpkin). I have zuchini, yellow squash, gourds, Atlantic Giant pumpkins, three kinds of mini pumpkins, cucumbers, and melons, yet they are only on the blue (my favorite, of course).

I have hand picked for one to two hours a day all season, and sprayed every 7 to 8 days with Green Light Neem, which doesn't kill them on contact, but is supposed to make them stop laying eggs and stop feeding, but apparently it doesn't work like I would like. I have sprayed every plant thoroughly, including stems, base, under leaves, and finally on top of the leaves.

I hand picked fifteen to twenty egg groupings and four to six adults a day for the last week of June, when they first appeared. It did go down every week, to about 10 to 12 groupings of eggs and two to three adults a day the second week of the squash bug war, then down to one or two adults and 5 to 8 egg groupings the third week. Last week it was down to zero adults (that I could find) and one or two egg groupings a day.

This week, the plant started wilting like crazy all day and plumping out in the evening, even though the ground was wet. It has been a bad summer for heat, but I am sure this is from the bugs, because none of the other curcurbits are doing it. I tried watering extra, but that only made some of the baby pumpkins rot. Sunday and Monday I couldn't find any squash bug sightings. Then I found a few baby squash bugs yesterday. Today I found 10 to 12 egg groupings again!

I have a board on the groubnd in between the vines, and have not found a single adult under it. I haven't found any adults for two weeks on the plant anywhere, morning, noon, or evening. How can I catch them or kill them? I really, really want those blue squash! They are so tasty, and last all winter. Should I break down and spray a harsh chemical?

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I also found a strange egg on my squash plant today. It is a little larger than a squash bug egg, there is only one, and it is bright orange, not brown-orange like a squash bug egg. It seems to be made of wax or very thick gell-like stuff. Anyone know what it is?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 2:57PM
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There are several things you can do next season to avoid squash bugs. You can try planting nasturtiums and petunias to repel them. I have nasturtiums around my pumpkins and I haven't seen any this year. Also you can use floating row covers until female flowers begin to open to provide a physical barrier to keep them away. Some people also use a zucchini as a sacrificial plant.

If you want to control them this season without chemicals you can try creating a cedar tea by boiling water with cedar chips in it. Then you spray it on the leaves (after it cools of course). And this should be done in the morning because you don't want the leaves to be damp when it is dark since that encourages other problems.

Also in case you don't already do this destroy (burn or throw out) infested vines at the end of the year and also you should be rotating your crops.

Oh and when I was just now looking up how they overwinter I stumbled aross the following link that says a lot of what I just typed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Squash Bugs from Ohio State University Extension Service

    Bookmark   July 24, 2007 at 3:35PM
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This year, the squash bugs in my garden never got a toehold. If you don't want to bomb them with petrochemicals like me, you have to work a little harder. I have a 1 quart spray bottle that I put 1/8th of a bar of Kirk's Castile bar soap (most supermarkets have it) into the spray bottle. First, I chip the 1/8th bar into smaller chips, then let it stand overnight. Before spraying, shake the bottle well. I have used as much as 1/4th of a bar... this is the ticket if you want to kill the adult bugs immediately, on contact. The last thing an adult squash bug does before it dies when sprayed with soap is lethargic flapping of its wings. When you see this, you can mark your spray bottle with a dead squash bug symbol. Squash bugs are less apt to fly away when the air temperature is below 80F.

I adjust the sprayer to a medium spray (not a mist like hairspray, nor a narrow stream... inbetween those two). I mist the entire plant and while I am spraying the undersides of leaves, I look for the eggs. They almost always are in the 'vee' of the leaf veins where they meet the leaf stalk. Spraying the eggs just makes the soap manufacturer richer... don't bother. Cut the portion of the leaf with the eggs with a small knife and be sure to either crush them or remove them to a sealed container and put it in the trash. Sometimes, out of laziness, I poke a hole into the soil with my thumb and shove the egg colony in it and then fill the hole. Sometimes the eggs are laid in a sort of line, up the leaf stalk. In any case, they must be removed from the garden or destroyed.

You have to do this often. I do it twice per week. While you're down there, be sure to look for signs of squash vine borers. Where the vine emerges from the soil to about 3" above there, look for yellow-orangeish goop or 'sawdust' (properly called 'frass'). Gently scrape the orangeish frass away until you see a hole. Dig those things out... they will do more harm than a bunch of squash bugs. They are relatively small, with a white body and a black or brown head.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 7:38PM
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I am amazed that soapy water will kill squash bugs! If I decide to brave growing squash again, I will try it. I haven't seen that kind of soap, but I never looked for it, so I'll definitely see if I can find it.

We've had borers in the past, but none this year so far. I did have a cucumber beetle that killed a whole pumpkin vine before I could kill the beetle. It gave the vine a disease, and I had to pull the whole vine right away. That was my white pumpkin. Oh, well. At least they haven't gotten into the other curcurbits, thank God!

Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 1:56PM
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Was thinking of trying the "topsy turvy" planting method (most often used for tomatoes) to see if the squash plant being away from the ground would help. I am planting most of my vegetables and herbs with this method. (5 gallon buckets, vegetables planted out the bottom of the suspended bucket, herbs, lettuce, etc. growing out the top of the bucket.) Does anyone think this could help with squash bugs? I will provide a fence or trellis for the squash to lay/vine across.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 8:49PM
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I am trying the "topsy turvy" planters for the first time this year and I planted zucchini, cucumbers and yellow squash in one and I have squash bugs! I came to this site looking for a way to get rid of them. Thanks for the info!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 12:18PM
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Dr Bronners makes a liquid castille oil soap... its organic n concentrated. often available at health food stores. a common garden bug tonic is pure (non-antibacterial) soap such as dove, mixed with olive oil n sprayed onto leaves. i was reading that sevin is supposed to kill the young, but not the adults... sigh. that probly means that my diatomateous earth probly wont work on them either. the lil boogers destroyed my gardens squash n cucumber crops... but i found that they died once they got into my green beans. r the green beans toxic to them as the nasturtium and petunias???

    Bookmark   August 20, 2011 at 12:10AM
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i dont know what squash bugs look like, but something has invaded one of my yellow squash plants- they are grey and some are brown, look like a beetle of sorts. any ideas

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 4:05PM
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    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 10:13PM
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I think guineafowl would eat squash bugs, but I can't let them in because the chickens would wander in too and start eating everything else.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:51AM
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Even though...the Squash Bugs killed my vines this summer...I have added a new weapon to fight them. It might sound a little out there but...I used an old vacuum cleaner and emptied them into a bucket of soapy water to kill. My daughter actually suggested the use of the vacuum. There I was sucking up Squash Bugs out of the garden and the utility guy was wondering if I had lost it!!!LOL Good Luck...Battle on!!!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2011 at 11:22PM
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Hmmm, I have some Dr. Bronner's in the bathroom..... I'll have to go get it and try it. Does it work to 'repel' the squash bugs, too? Or just 'kill on contact?' I think i'll invest in some nasturtiums and/or petunias........

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 2:13PM
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I found that dishwashing liquid mixed with water is very effective. I used Dawn dishwashing liquid and mixed it with water in my hand sprayer using about the amount I would use to wash dishes. It doesn't affect the eggs but will kill the squash bug within a couple of minutes if you spray it directly on the bug.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 7:29PM
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I've begun my battle with these pests this week. I take my needle nose pliers and a small Dixie cup of soapy (fill the bottom of the cup with dawn and fill half way with water) water out to the garden with me every night. I thought I could put everyone in the soapy water but I looked away from the cup for a second and the two squash bugs that I had JUST put in there were crawling out so note to self fairly concentrated dawn water doesnâÂÂt kill the adults very quickly.

I have transplanted some mint and marigolds by the pumpkins and melons since I have noticed them. I also mix a strong mix (1tbsp of each) of dr bronners liquid soap and neem oil and spray both sides of the leaves. On Lisa Bronners blog she talked about using a tbsp of peppermint soap in a spray bottle for pest control, I have lavender at the moment and that seems to be working pretty well for me.

Last year they took over and destroyed our garden so I am determined to destroy them this year!! So far IâÂÂm gaining on them, yesterday I only found 3 adults, a handful of nymphs, and maybe 2 egg clusters. I wonâÂÂt call it a win until IâÂÂve gone several weeks without seeing them.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 2:01PM
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So I finally gave in and tried Sevin spray to get rid of cucumber bugs and squash bugs. It seems to have worked the first day because I found dead ones on the plants. Does it still work when its dry? How many times do I need to do this? I don't want to kill bees!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 11:37AM
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