Saturday, August 14, 2010

Supremacy over Squash Bugs!

I never thought I'd be able to say this, but I have conquered squash bugs in my garden. I have tried handpicking squash bugs and their egg clusters with little success before. This year, though,  I stuck with it and found stick-to-it-ness works with squash bugs. For photos of squash bugs in every stage of development, the University of Maryland has a photo montage here. They go into ways to manage the bugs, including insecticide, but I have an organic garden.

Photos by Marvin
For two weeks, I went out to the garden nearly every day, looked under every squash leaf and on the ground near the main stem. I grabbed every bug I found and squished it. By the way, those bugs are harder to squish, being flat, so you have to kind of grind it into the ground and make sure it is dead. If you are squeamish, pop them in soapy water to kill.  I used to be squeamish, but seeing all those dead plants over the years has changed things.

You won't generally see squash bugs unless you look under every leaf, or unless you have a bad infestation. As you look under the leaves, look for egg clusters like in the photo to the left. They say to scrape off the eggs or crush them and it seems to kill that part of the leaf anyway. So, I just rip out that tiny portion of the leaf, eggs and all, and take them to the garbage or crush them.

The first two days of going through that procedure, I found 15 squash bugs and six egg clusters, both days. Each day after that, I found nine, then 8, then 6 bugs and egg clusters. I didn't go out as often when it got so I only found one squash bug and one egg cluster. Now, I only check twice a week and find one bug and one egg cluster each time. My squash is thriving, and I think I'm in control. Yeah! You'll never get in control if you don't make sure you get those egg clusters, though, so carefully check under each leaf.

Squash bugs are easier to find during and after watering, as they crawl up on the stems.

I have to admit that this procedure would be time consuming if you have more than a couple of plants or a pumpkin or other large viney squash, but for my home garden, it worked. I give much credit to my rubber-coated garden gloves in keeping down the "gross" factor. I don't feel the bugs, so I don't get the shudders.

No comments: