Squash bugs

farmgardenerApril 12, 2012

My son-in-law was told recently by a lady who used to work for Horn's in OKC that if you add a little sugar to the hole when you plant squash that the squash bugs will leave it alone - has anyone else heard this? It will certainly be worth a try, but curious if anyone has tried this before.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Well, I've never heard of this and I kind of doubt it works, but it wouldn't hurt your plants to try it.

I believe I know where this idea originated though. Organic growers often use molasses, either liquid or dry, in soil improvement. The main reason for this is that sugar stimulates microbiological activity in the soil which improves it. Since soil that has a lot of microbiological activity in it is healthier than soil that does not, that would mean that plants grown in that soil would be healthier, and we know healthier plants attract fewer pests and survive their damage better than plants in unhealthy soil. So, to the extent this works, if it works, the reason likely would be because of the sugar's stimulating effects on the soil.

You really have nothing to lose by trying it. Note the sugar in the soil may attract ants, and ants often farm aphids, so watch out for the aphids. If you have fire ant issues on your property, you might need to be extra careful about attracting ants to a specific location.

However, squash bug issues vary from year to year. Last year, in our garden, we never saw a single squash bug at all, although we have them to some degree most years.

So, in order to test whether it works, you'd need to plant squash plants of the same variety with sugar and without sugar and give them the exact same soil and care otherwise, so that you could see if there is any difference in plant performance.

I have a feeling that if this method works, it would have been studied and reported on many university websites. I've never seen it mentioned before, so I feel like it probably won't work.....but you'll never know unless you try it.


    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 10:13AM
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I did just read that molasses helps get rid of fire ants from the garden.
I used diamectaceous earth last year, from the minute I saw the first squash bug. Kept the plants heavily dusted, all over the top and bottom of the leaves and the soil. Seems to work, I only saw about 3-4 bugs and a couple of babies, no egg clusters at all.
The year before, they devasted my plants.
I get the DE from the feed store in 50 pound bags, food grade, pretty cheap and it also really helps with ants and aphids.
Only problem is it needs to be reapplied if it gets wet.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 7:16PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

We have huge infestations of fire ants here and I have used dry molasses and cannot really tell it works. When you have millions of them though, a reduction in their population might not be readily apparent to the naked eye. Today I found fire ants in a 20-gallon container filled with plants. After the weekend storms have come and gone, I'll hit that container's soil with Concern.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 7:26PM
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I hate fire ants but I guess there are worse things that they are controlling.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 12:04AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I especially hate the fire ants because they are hard on horned toads. They also are really bad about getting into electrical boxes, air conditioner compressors, etc. and cause lots of problems in that manner.

I know the fire ants do help control some pests.

Next on the horizon? Probably the Rasberry Crazy Ants. I hope it takes them a long time to make it here from southeast Texas.

Here is a link that might be useful: Rasberry Crazy Ants

    Bookmark   April 14, 2012 at 11:05AM
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Oh, I read about those Rasberry crazy ants last year. They are scarey! Sounds like the cold weather may keep them down south, though.
I wonder if beneficial nematodes could help with squash bugs? Do they winter in the ground? I was considering them for ticks.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:08PM
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I've read where this maybe a bug year. Part of it due to the mild winter. At least one of the extension services in this area has issued a bulletin about it. I think they might be correct. Last year was a mild year overall for bugs here. I've seen of the wheat that is already infested. I've been busy and usually only check the plants when watering and lately have been just bottom watering and filling the trays on those under the lights and not pulling them out. I got to checking closer this morning after I noticed more leaves missing especially on my potato plants. I found several little green cats on them. I have been opening the utility room windows on warm days. I imagine the mothers came in and laid their eggs. As these plants have never left the house yet. Except for when I carried them to the lean to and potted them up and then returned with them. So a gardener had better be observant this year. I noticed them before they did much damage. All will recover. I've used concentrated Garlic spray with good results but others have stated it doesn't seem to work for them. Jay

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:34PM
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