Squash bugs- give up?

polydJuly 2, 2014

We've got squash bugs. I've only got two plants this year- one zuchinne and one yellow. Should I just uproot them and give up or is there any hope? They got allot bigger than expected and are sort of crowding out light for my beans so it would not be a total loss to pull them out. Husband cut off the affected leaves but from what I understand once you have them you can't get rid of them.

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Hi polyd

You're not alone! I've lost 2 plants, so far. i think I sowed some more. I don't remember. It's crazy. I've been too busy battling them over my pumpkins. Def. doing resistant varieties next year.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 12:49PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

It depends on whether having squash and zukes is important to you. If it is, you will do what it takes to protect your plants. If it isn't, there is nothing wrong with saying "enough is enough" and letting the squash bugs have the plants. However, if you do that, and if you let the squash bugs breed and multiply, some of them will overwinter and then next year you'll have ten times as many of them next year as you have this year. Keep that in mind.

It is possible to kill off the squash bugs if you hand pick them and kill them daily, and if you scout the backs of the leaves for eggs and remove and destroy them. You have to be diligent and check the plants daily (or even more than once a day). So, it depends on whether or not you want to do what it takes to get rid of them. You cannot just sit around and hope they go away because they will not. As they feed on your plant they damage it and often spread disease. If you ignore them and let them have your plants to feast upon, they will breed another generation and then another....

One of the best ways to defeat squash bugs is to grow your plants under floating row cover or tulle netting, tacked down or weighted down tightly to the ground so they cannot crawl under it. When you do this, you have to either remove the cover once the plants are blooming so pollinators can reach the plants or you have to hand-pollinate your plants (or plant parthenocarpic varieties). Also, it is best to start out with row covers as soon as your plants sprout, and do not grow squash plants under row covers in the same spot you had squash the previous year because you could end up with overwintering squash bugs underneath your row cover, chowing down on your plants that you think are covered and protected.

Squash bugs are a fairly persistent problem in our climate and there are no easy fixes that are environmentally friendly. You have to battle them pretty seriously almost every year.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2014 at 11:01PM
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Thanks guys for the advice. My squash grew HUGE this year- my zuke was 5 feet tall and at least 6 feet wide. It made for large, thick plants that hid the squash bugs well. By the time I posted about this, I was unaware- but my zuke had already a rotted base stem. And the plant looked gorgeous, but I should have known something was up as it wasn't producing. I thought my blooms weren't opening. The yellow crookneck, I took the plant away and the ground was festering with squash bugs. I sprayed them- and made a note never to grow squash again. so, the plants are gone but they would have died soon anyways. I didn't spray the whole bed just where they were visible crawling. Will any left over bugs bother my remaining crops- tomatoes, green beans?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 10:35AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

That rotted stem likely indicates squash vine borers, not squash bugs, so it is probable that you had both. Squash vine borers bore into the stem while still tiny and then eat their way through the stem as they grow into large, white grub worms. The damage eventually causes the plant to die and, yes, rot will set in where the SVBs have eaten out the interior portion of the stem.

If your plants were that big and gorgeous and weren't producing, that issue normally is caused by too much nitrogen which makes the plants grow like crazy vegetatively with poor flower production.

Squash bugs might move on to other plants in the cucurbit family (cucumbers, winter or summer squash, pumpkins, gourds, watermelons and other melons) but they may not. I rarely have squash bugs bother cucumber or watermelon plants, but have had them bother gourd and muskmelon (cantaloupe) plants.

If you see a bug on non-cucurbit plants like tomatoes and green beans that you think is a squash bug, it probably is a brown stinkbug.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 7:18PM
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