Battling Squash Bugs

| 6/25/2015 10:35:00 AM

Erin SheehanIf you do one thing to help out your garden this year, check for squash bugs. Last year, during the July Fourth weekend, my formerly beautiful and lush winter squash plants suddenly wilted and died back. What was once a plot full of squash vines was instead nearly empty. The plants lost about 2/3 of their size and looked terrible.

At first I thought my plants had powdery mildew. We'd had that the previous year and it also caused wilting and dying back, so I treated for it. When that didn't have any effect I started looking at the plants a little closer. I quickly found that they were covered with small dark insects. A little research told me that these were squash bugs. With a lot of hard work the plants did come back, but my yield was about half what it should have been.

This year I have vowed to stay one step ahead of those little monsters. I visit the squash patch at least every other day and carefully turn up each and every squash leaf that I can reach and search for eggs.

squash bug eggs 

squash bug eggs

When I find an egg cluster, I rip the portion of the leaf that it is on and put it in the trash. Not the compost and not anywhere near the garden! I'm not taking any chances. As the plants have grown, this process has gone from taking about 10 minutes to more than 30.