beating squash bugs in a market garden

imtoobusy(z6b)August 30, 2005

Hello everyone,

I would post this in other forums but I am trying to control squash bugs on a larger scale. I have been staying organic so that, when my sales get to $5000/yr I will be able to get certified. Right now I am not so sure if I will be able to do it. I have MILLIONS of squash bugs and SB nymphs in the garden. They killed off 80 cucumber plants, 40 winter squash, almost all my melons (luckily I was able to harvest about half before they died), have killed off almost all of my plantings of summer squash and zucchini and they have started working on my watermelon. So far they haven't found the gourds and pumpkin but I am sure it is just a matter of time.

If I want to stay organic WHAT SHOULD I DO?? Liq. Rotenone/Pyrethrin doesn't kill them, DE doesn't seem to affect them, Pyola doesnt kill them, they laugh at neem, the onion/garlic/cayenne spray I used early in the season just added seasoning to their unending appetites! The only way I have found to kill them is to sqish them but I simply am not able to get all of them.

They were non-existant last year. I have no idea how they got so heavy so quickly! I have resolved that I can't save most of my garden this year but would really be unhappy if they kill off all of my fall decoratives--some of these pumpkins are quite unique.. I am also paranoid about what this will mean for next year. I understand that I should clean up all of the debris that they could overwinter in. Should I also remove all of the straw that I use for mulching my paths? I have a permanent raised bed system and feel like I shouldn't even try a winter cover crop because that would give them another place to hide.

What is your opinion??

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randy41_1

i would plant as far away as possible next year from where this stuff is planted now. i would also clean up the area they are in thoroughly. sabadilla is supposed to work but i havent used it in years and i dont know if its acceptable for organic production. these bugs like to hide out in straw mulch...
the eggs are pretty easy to see (gold/rust colored on the leaves) and thats the best time to control them by removing the eggs from the plants.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 10:48AM
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suenh(4)

guinea hens.
I don't have a single bug since they came to live here. Don't dig things up as bad as chickens either.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 3:44PM
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imtoobusy(z6b)

I have 22 chickens that I don't dare let into the garden right now (they get all "imperfect" produce and run to me when I bring them a basket. Since veggies are candy to them I don't think I'll let them in yet).

Should I let them in after I pull up the plants? Will they be able to dig up the overwintering bugs? I can let them in around November and still be able to meet the "100 day" application of manure rule in the standards.

Guineas are an idea I have pondered but I worry about our rather heavy predator load around here. At least I can keep the chickens inside their portable fence...

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 10:39PM
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randy41_1

i have some guineas...they fly pretty good and are not in much danger from four legged predators....but they dont do well against owls and vehicles.
your chickens may help a lot...my chickens are moved around in my fallow field from mid-spring to mid-fall.
neither of these methods will be 100% effective.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 9:35AM
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paveggie(z5-6)

Could you have more than one problem going on? I don't often see squash bugs around cucumbers and never saw squash bug eggs on the leaves. The cukes may have died out for other reasons. You best get some control on the squash because the pumpkins are a very, very likely target next.

Here's a site with some comments that might be of help even though from Kansas. I know the chemical controls won't apply, but the general information is of interest.

http://www.oznet.ksu.edu/dp_hfrr/extensn/problems/squashbg.htm

Another from Kentucky has interesting information about a disease spread by the squash bug. Again, chemical controls likely won't apply for organic grower.

http://www.uky.edu/Agriculture/Entomology/entfacts/veg/ef314.htm

    Bookmark   September 4, 2005 at 1:16PM
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cwentzIN(z5b IN)

chickens will help. Also, make certain of the identification of the pest. Striped cucumber beetles arent usually a huge pest, although they can carry disease. I usually lose a couple of plantings of cukes every summer to them, but they also fertilize the plants when its too hot for the bees. Larvae in the summer squash is the big killer here. I cope by multiple plantings, occasionally with Bt injections into the stems. Injecting is time consuming. More seed is cheaper lol. An easy way to keep the bugs off squash etc longer is something I've used for years...interplant radishes. Let them grow and go to seed. I've read that it changes the scent, so the beetles dont find it as quickly. One more idea: I find planting block rows of tiny flowering plants in among the vegetables feeds adult predatory wasps and insects, and that helps keep the bad bugs down. Alyssum, ammi majus, dills all work well here.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 2:40PM
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cwentzIN(z5b IN)

chickens will help. Also, make certain of the identification of the pest. Striped cucumber beetles arent usually a huge pest, although they can carry disease. I usually lose a couple of plantings of cukes every summer to them, but they also fertilize the plants when its too hot for the bees. Larvae in the summer squash is the big killer here. I cope by multiple plantings, occasionally with Bt injections into the stems. Injecting is time consuming. More seed is cheaper lol. An easy way to keep the bugs off squash etc longer is something I've used for years...interplant radishes. Let them grow and go to seed. I've read that it changes the scent, so the beetles dont find it as quickly. One more idea: I find planting block rows of tiny flowering plants in among the vegetables feeds adult predatory wasps and insects, and that helps keep the bad bugs down. Alyssum, ammi majus, dills all work well here.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2005 at 3:03PM
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hmeadq

Plastic mulch!

We used it this year and we had MUCH less pest issues. We sprayed only one time all year! (We were ultra parinoid becasue it was our fist bee year) That may not be typical and we did have some pest damage, but much less then typical. You might want to try it, it keeps vines off the ground and the bugs have fewer places to hide...

    Bookmark   November 1, 2005 at 1:10PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

I've been gardening for 40 years, and until 10 or 12 years ago had never seen a squash bug. But now they are such a huge problem for me that I stopped trying to grow winter squash. (In their place I grow sweet potatoes.) I grow only one hill of zucchini, which I control by checking the underside of all the leaves every few days and removing the egg masses. However, the summer squash called variously zuchetta tromboncino rampicante, zuchetta, or tromboncino is an extremely vigorous vine that bears delicious zucchini-like frui, and in my experience is totally resistant to squash bugs. I stopped growing it only because it was so vigorous that even just two plants took over my small, permanent bed garden. But if you have the room to let it go, it's extremely prolific and very tasty.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 2:40PM
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kkfromnj

>>>>>>the summer squash called variously zuchetta tromboncino rampicante, zuchetta, or tromboncino is an extremely vigorous vine that bears delicious zucchini-like frui, and in my experience is totally resistant to squash bugs.

The last 3 years my Zucc's have been totally destroyed by squash bugs but year after year they don't seem to touch zuchetta tromboncino rampicante. Taste great, keeps a long time too. Good fence climber.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 8:49AM
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marktime(z5 Co)

Just a thought: I had read that planting radishes with my squash would prevent squash bugs. So I tried it this past summer. I planted lots of radishes along with the squash and harvested most but left a few of the radishes, yes they went to seed. I seen a few squash bugs but did not lose one plant and had a good harvest of squash. This spring I am getting Guines as well.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 11:39PM
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Steve_in_Albuquerque(z6 Albuquerque)

I read somewhere that squash bugs locate the plants by smell. I tried spraying dilute vanilla extract. As far as I could tell it didnt work, but the garden smelled nice. I patrol my plants daily, but there are usually only 20 or so.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 10:40AM
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julysun

I come on this thread looking for bee information and am very late for these 05 posts but, Bacillus Thuringiensis is what you are looking for. Organic farmers use it to control all these peste from cabbage worms to wax moths. Google it, there are commercial products that are pure Bacillus Thuringiensis which is a natural pest control.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 9:39PM
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daveswoodcraft

Hi
I do not have an organic garden but that being said I try to use all teh organic products I can.
I have been using a brand SAFER for squash bugs, japanese beetles, cucumber beetls that has worked wonderfully from what I see it does nto have much of a residule effect so i walk my garden early morning and late afternoon and "hunt and spray" but it kills the bugs within 30 seconds of contact. Comes in a spray bottle so I walk the perrimter fence and spray what I can see. up to 15 feet inside the garden.
It sells on Amazon and I buy it at local hardware store.

Good luck

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 8:28AM
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cal_mario(9)

Hi,several years ago I had the same problem with many squash bugs late in the season,nothing seemed to work,finally I got a long garden hose and sprayed the squash plants for a few days,cleaned the plants and eventually the bugs didn't return. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2012 at 12:39PM
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little_minnie(zone 4a)

I killed them with insecticidal oil, sprayed deep into the bottom of the plant with a long handled sprayer. Only spray in the PM when bees are gone.
Yes when you have so many plants you can't check for eggs that easily, especially if you get rashes from the plants like me.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2012 at 10:39PM
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