We have 2 nemesis for our summer squash, winter squash and all pumpkins-squash vine borers and squash bugs and they will be here soon if not already here. This post addresses the squash vine borer.
The squash vine borer as seen above has a BLACK AND ORANGE BODY with CLEAR WINGS. If you see a waspy looking bug that is BLACK with ORANGE WINGS, this is NOT the squash vine borer but a tarantula wasp – don’t mess with it as it has a painful bite but usually won’t sting us unless we agitate it and it is harmless to our plants. Take a good look at the picture above so you can identify the squash vine borer.
This video and article, Protecting Your Squash Plants – Vegetable Gardener is from the Vegetable Gardener site (great site) and shows how to protect our squash vines from the squash vine borer.
In addition to using foil and panty hose as shown in the video, I also bury all my stems as they lay down on the soil-main stem and secondaries so the SVB can’t find the stems. Mostly the SVB attacks the BASE of main vine so be sure to protect that part of the squash vine. This use to be an east coast problem but the SVB has finally crossed west of the Rockies. So be on the lookout.
If your plant suddenly wilts even though it has enough water, or if you do see SVB’s around, look for frasse (poop) that looks like sawdust around the base of the stem and that is where the larvae will be-inside the stem eating your plant. You can try to cut vertically (not across) the stem and dig out the larva with a knife, then bury the stem with dirt. Depending on the damage, your plant may or may not survive. Take precautions now to thwart this pest.