Squash bugs/squash vine borer preventatives

I get a lot of questions about how to control squash bugs. They are a veggie gardener’s nemesis. I have read and tried several things and think a few help. Here’s a list of things you might try to control squash bugs and squash vine borers.

squash bug

Squash bugs
Squash bugs attack both summer and winter squash. They pierce it and suck out the juices. If left unchecked, they can take over and destroy the plant. The key to control is catching them right away. Here are some thing s to try:
-Plant onions around squash to help repeal them. I planted little sets around the squash last year and I got a few but not a lot. Very controllable.
-Make an onion spray to put on leaves. Fill blender with water and add a couple of onions.      Blend onions and let them sit overnight. Strain onions out and put in sprayer to spray squash plants.
-Put row cover over young plants till they flower, then remove so they can get pollinated.
-Hand pick every 7 days and remove eggs, nymphs and adults from leaves. Put in bucket of soapy water. Then cover plants again with row cover. Squash bugs life cycle from egg to nymph is 7-10 days so keep ahead of them.
-Spray Neem Oil on squash when you have to keep them uncovered for pollination. Neem is an effective repellant.
-Plant late like the first couple of weeks of July-you may miss their lifecycle.
-Rotate squash into different beds, They may not find you. First time squash growers generally get the first year free of squash bugs. Afterward the bugs find you and the battle is on.

squash vine borer

Squash Vine Borer
This bug is not suppose to be west of the Rocky Mountains and yet it has been seen around here damaging and killing squash plants. It likes to bore into the main stem around the base of the plant to lay its eggs which then turn ito larvae inside the vine and eat it from the inside. Look for sawdust like  particles around base if plant suddenly wilts. You can try to slit the vine parallel  (not across it) and dig out the grub and then tape the wound shut. It may survive. Here are some things to try:
-Once again cover them until pollination needs to happen.
-Wrap aluminum foil around the base of the vine for about 12 inches to keep them from attacking it.
-Also bury the vine with dirt or mud covering the main vine.

2 comments on “Squash bugs/squash vine borer preventatives

  1. mich says:

    Your pumpkins are amazing. Beautiful, you must be really proud.

    We live in NY trying to grow one great pumpkin every year, (just one would be great) but the squash vine borer takes over fast! Do you have any secrets of getting ride of them? This year they are devouring our plants before the vine even spread out.

    We have covered with base with dirt, tin foil, insect soap, sevin(we don’t normally to use pesticides, and it didn’t even work)
    last year I did surgery on the vine but the pumpkins only reached 20 pounds. The vine borers seem to move around our property and find new planting locations…

    thanks for your inspiring site,
    well keep growing despite the bugs


    • I read on the internet somewhere that there are traps you can buy to attract the squash vine borer and then they get caught in them. Many giant pumpkin growers use them with some success. I would get some of those and als cover my pumpkin early on with a big sheet of light weight row cover until it out grows it. Physical barrier like row cover will prevent it from getting to it. I think I also read that the life cycle of the vine borer is earlier in the season so perhaps to cover it earlier would be good too-just some thoughts…


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