Ideas for battling Squash Vine Borers?

raisingmenMarch 22, 2012

Just wondering if anyone has found good ideas for battling the squash vine borers. I just planted my yellow squash and zucchini for this year, and last year the SVB decimated it all. (link below) IâÂÂm still feeling the sting (last year was my first try at gardening) and would really like to avoid the same thing. I have planted a whole month earlier than I did last year due to the warm weather. Maybe that will help?

I am an organic gardener, but I would consider a pesticide used only on the stem at the time the SVB moths are out. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

So, anyone?

Here is a link that might be useful: A Peaceful Dwelling: Scourge of the Squash Vine Borer: R.I.P Yellow and Zucchini Squash

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TxanGoddess

The best way I've found to avoid the dreaded SVB is to get the squash out very early, or very late. I planted mine at the end of January.

That aside, I wipe the stems and back of the leaves with a rag with BTK once a week, which will kill the worm if it starts to eat in before it can get all fat and clog up the stem. A $15 bottle will last a couple of seasons.

If I have even the slightest suspicion my application on the outside was not precise enough, and a worm made it in anyway, I shoot the stem up with diluted BTK, hoping to kill the caterpillar, again before it gets too fat. When I first started using it, I was trying to get worms that had already clogged the intake system of the whole plant ... which is the one situation where BTK is not particularly useful.

I've heard of people who shoot up squash plants routinely without or before there is even any evidence of damage, some use Spinosad as well, but this seems overly invasive to me.

HTH.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:45AM
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JimR36(5b CO)

Thanks for the post, and best wishes on solutions. I started gardening last August, and luckily didn't have problems with SVBs on my zucchini leaves. I did have problems though with melonworms and cabbage & soybean loopers. Since it may be a different story being earlier in the year, I'm paying attention to SVBs. The damage from them looks much more severe; killing the whole plant, rather than just focusing on the leaves.

I'll try to check the sometimes helpful Texas Bug Book. I remember seeing data in there for SVBs. Good luck, and keep researching. Maybe a Google search would also help?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:56AM
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wally_1936(8b)

I do not know how well it works but I have heard of using blue tinted foil placed at the base of all squash plants. It seems they believe that they think it is the sky and will not light? I know they paint the underside of porch ceilings a light blue color to help keep the mud dabber wasp from building as they seems to think it is the sky. I have never tried this so it is just a thought.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 10:14AM
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bigoledude(SE Louisiana)

I have had decent success combating the borers. A few years back I found at a fabric store, a really inexpensive gauze-looking material. I firmly anchored the fabric very near the stem of the plant to prevent as many moths from re-emerging inside my row cover. I kinda scratch around 2-3 inches deep into the soil, prior to planting, looking for the cocoons and kill any that I find. I have to loosely sew another layer of the gauze stuff as the plants get taller.

If the insipid nasty critters happen to succeed in getting to a plant or two, I harvest as many squash as I can from the affected plant before the borers emerge from the stalk. Then I pull/cut the plant and burn it.

I stagger-plant every 10 days or so only about 8 zucchini and yellow crookneck plants so, it's not very labor intensive for me.

My neighbor also only plants about 10-12 plants. He goes out every few days with a rag dipped in a BT solution and literally wipes the bottom of the stalks and most of the lower leaves to dislodge and kill the eggs that might be there. He does well with this method.

The best idea for us was to also plant the cuccuzi or tromboncino gourd and pick them when they are young and tender(8-12 inches). I've never had one vine attacked by the Squash Vine Borer. They taste fabulous! The vines grow long and they produce very well throughout our long hot summers.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2013 at 5:59AM
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eahamel(9a)

I'm going to try something different this year. Haven't planted squash in years because of those borers. I'm going to mix cayenne pepper with water and a little soap for a surfactant, and spray the undersides of the vines. I hope that will work.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 7:13PM
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kept(6)

An old timer gave me this idea and it works everytime. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sulphur powder in the soil when you plant the seed. The borers do not like the sulphur and will not get into the root or stem stem.
Vicki

    Bookmark   February 14, 2013 at 10:39PM
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eahamel(9a)

Wow, that's a great idea! I'll see how it works. Neem oil sprayed under the leaves might work, too. That or spinosad.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2013 at 10:35AM
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TxTwiggy(9)

I have a multi-pronged approach here in Houston. Plant as early as possible, given squash's dislike of transplanting and need for warm soil. Next, check for eggs almost daily. They will be everywhere on the plant--on leaves, under leaves, on stems, on base of plant. You won't get them all, but you can make a dent. Next, look for frass and for yellowing leaves. Yellowing mature leaves are almost a sign of a borer for me. Shoot up stem of leaf and of vine with Bt. Lastly, when the plant is established enough to take the trauma, go into vine with knife and gouge out worms. Shoot up with Bt, then use caulk or gorilla glue to repair vine and heap compost on wound.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2013 at 12:11PM
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squirrelwhispererpup(9a)

I am spot treating all the eggs I find with insecticidal soap every evening, it dries out the eggs and turns them into hard little bits. Every other evening I wet the main stems thoroughly with a Bt spray, adding a drop of spreader sticker to help it adhere to them, and I pour out any leftover solution over the bases of the plants as a drench. Once a week I inject Bt solution into the stems every three inches to take care of whatever I missed in the preceding week. I'll report back on how this turns out. Row covers would have definitely been easier but my plants grew so big that I could never adequately cover them and they are in containers which would be hard to fully encase. Sulfur sprinkled on the soil and bases of the plants seemed to repel for a few days but they always came back and there is only so much sulfur you can safely use on a container planting, plus cucurbits can be sensitive to it if it gets on their leaves. Anyone know when the SVB stops laying eggs in the Houston area? I can't find anything definitive about the timing of their generations here, I just know we have at least two.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2013 at 10:01PM
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lisaslists2000

what is this shoot up the stem you guys are talking about?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 8:20AM
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nalz2000

I have battled these things for years and was at my wits end this year after loosing seedlings to the little bugs! I decided to replant but wage an all out assault on them. First I put diomatous earth where the dead/dying plants were. Then I purchased new seedlings and a bottle of BT. I asked at the pharmacy about where I could get 1 needle and they gave me 1 so I didn't have to purchase 10!! I mixed the BT, 1 cup water to 1tsp (approx I did it by eye) Then I slowly and cautiously injected it into the new seedlings and the surviving seedlings in the garden. Next I put a liberal pile of diomatous earth around all of the seedlings. Last I crushed up a bag of washed and dried egg shells that I had forgotten to mix in the planting stage and put them around all of my plants (not sure if it really deters slugs and snales but hey its worth trying. The results so far are promising!! All of my new seedlings have grownto a healthy size about 1-2 feet which is the best I have seen in years!! There is no sign of the pesky borers!! I will probably re inject the BT into the stems in a week or two just to be safe and also reapply the dio earth. (Note I only put the dio earth around the stems as it will kill your pollinators!) After reading way to much on this topic I feel my research is paying off! One big change I will also try at the end of the season is to till and plant a winter cover crop. Happy planting and I hope my years of vine loss will help you!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 9:33AM
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lisaslists2000

does no one use sevin for this anymore?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 10:49AM
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