I just posted about the squash vine borer and a gardening friend, Gene, mentioned that his squash is smaller than in the video in a comment in the earlier post on squash vine borers. I forgot to mention that while the squash is small before they blossom, I keep them covered with row cover which keeps both the SVB and the squash bugs out but once the plants are bigger and blossoms, we have to take the row cover off for the bees to be able to pollinate them-that’s when we should use the foil.
Squash bugs are around my squash and pumpkins right now. I go out AT LEAST ONE TIME A WEEK and go hunting for adults, nymphs and eggs. I know the ADULTS LIKE TO HIDE DOWN AT THE BASE OF THE PLANT or underneath the leaves. I take the hose and spray the whole plant and at particularly at the base which is covered in straw. The adults come running up the stems of the leaves to escape the water. Then I pick them off with my hand. I hate handling bugs barehanded so I use gardening gloves. I either squish them on the ground or put them in a bucket of soapy water where the adults drown. No mercy.
I then look at EACH LEAF of the plant to see if there are any EGGS ON THE UNDERNEATH SIDE OF THE LEAVES, usually in the “v” where the veins form. If I find them, I either tear off the whole leaf (if I have a lot of leaves) or I tear out just the section that has the eggs and put them is a bucket of soapy water where they will smother. THE EGGS WILL BE DARK LIKE ROOTBEER WHEN THEY ARE READY TO HATCH, so get them EARLY.
I also look for the GRAY NYMPHS WHICH ARE USUALLY UNDERNEATH THE LEAVES OR ON THE STEMS. If I find a few I squish them. If I find a lot, I take the whole leaf off because they are fast and I can get them all. Then I put them in the soapy water.
Squash bugs go from EGGS TO NYMPHS IN 7-10 DAYS, so we should look for eggs about every 7 days to catch them from turning into nymphs. I do this on the weekend when I have more time. The squash bug PRODUCES ONE NEW GENERATION EACH YEAR but of course if each squash bug lays 15 eggs on each leaf they chose to deposit their eggs on, then all those newly hatched nymphs will lay more-but not this year. The nymphs will grow into adults this year but will not lay eggs. They will overwinter and lay their eggs next year.
So my thinking is if you get the adults now and the eggs now, then next year you should have way less squash bugs (I’m assuming we might miss a few) and of course if we get them all, in theory we should have none next year.
I keep my plants covered early in the season with row cover until they flower but now that they are flowering, I must uncover them so the bees can pollinate them. The key is to be REALLY DILIGENT ABOUT FINDING THEM BEFORE THE EGGS HATCH. After they hatch you can easily be overcome by the nymphs. Most people don’t keep up on the inspections and then the problem magnifies tenfold-so keep up on them. The hunt is on!
Some people spray Sevin on the plants. I prefer to go organically, so if I get a major problem, I would use Neem which is somewhat helpful but picking them off is the best way to control them.
All pictures courtesy of University of Minnesota. For more info on squash bugs, go to their site: http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1208.html
Have you ever planted winter squash and it grew in a direction you didn’t want? Here is a good tip for how to tell which direction a vining winter squash (versus a bush variety) will grow. I will use my giant pumpkin as an example but any winter squash that is a vining squash will act the same.
Let’s say you plant some vining winter squash next to a wall or on the edge of a garden bed and you need it grow away from the wall not into it or into your squash bed not out of it (good luck on that one!) When the plant puts out the first two leaves as I have described in previous posts, these are called the cotyledon leaves (baby leaves) and don’t look like any of the other leaves it will grow afterward. All leaves after the cotyledon leaves are called true leaves.
Sooo pay attention to that FIRST TRUE LEAF. The plant will GROW IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION FROM THE FIRST TRUE LEAF. If I’m growing them inside for a head start, it is easy to mark the container as you will not remember which one was the first leaf (trust me!) when the second one appears. I just take a marker and mark the opposite side of the pot so I know when I transplant it into the ground which direction I orientate it. If I grow directly into the soil, after the first true leaf appears, I gently dig up a big amount around it and gently lift it and the dirt so as not to disturb the new roots and rotate it in the direction I want it to grow. For those who are growing their winter or summer squash seed in the ground, it is too early. Wait till May 15th (our first frost free date) to plant directly into the ground when the soil and weather are hopefully warmer.