Control Squash Bugs by Following These Tips.

Trying to control squash bugs can seem an insurmountable task when you find them in your vegetable garden. Last week I had a huge zucchini and squash patch. This week I have a squash bug infestation.  I am so dismayed.  I noticed them first with the distinctive eggs on the top of the leaves. 

Control Squash bugs and eggs by following these tips

Normally these eggs are on the underside of the leaves but mine are in plain sight on top!

The key to the control of squash bugs is to interrupt their life cycle, since they have just one generation each year.  The females live over the winter in plant debris and then come out in the spring to lay their reddish browns eggs on the leaves of cucumber, squash , melons and pumpkins.

Tips to Control Squash bugs

Some ways to control the infestations:

  • Remove vines, leaves and plant debris in the last fall and destroy it.
  • Do not plant squash in the same spot each year.
  • Go easy on the mulch.  The bugs like debris and bare soil seems to work better than mulched soil.
  • Remove infested leaves when you find them and destroy them.
  • Plant varieties resistant to squash bug if you can.
  • Neem oil, a natural pesticide, effectively control squash bugs. Spray it on all leaf and stem surfaces as the label suggests.
  • Hand picking of the bugs is very effective.    Examine your plants often and crush the eggs when they are spotted.  (early in June is a common time for eggs to be laid.)
  • Diatomaceous earth applications around the base of the plant can be an effective method to control squash bug and is a treatment that is considered Organic.
  • Plant mint, chives, garlic, onion, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums, marigolds, and/or bee balm near plants likely to be affected by the pests.  Squash bugs hate the smell of mint and chives–so they try to avoid anything close to them.  I am going to put a container of mint near mine tomorrow.  Mint is invasive so I don’t want to plant it in the ground.
  • Don’t compost your dead plants in the fall.  Those little pests have a tendency to overwinter and will cause trouble all over again the next growing season.
  • Planting squash a bit later in the season works if you have the time for this.   The majority of the bugs will have hatched and perished by then.  (Looks like I may be digging these up and planting a second round of seeds!)How to control squash bugs

What have you found effective in dealing with Squash bugs?

  8 comments for “Control Squash Bugs by Following These Tips.

  1. Sylvia Nelson
    06/19/2015 at 2:38 am

    Can you tell me how to control squash bores. I am assuming that is what got the squash, zucchini and pumpkins, the stems at the base of the plant seem to split and then disintegrate, leaves become like slime. I had no moths this year and have not had any squash bugs. I had giant size leaves and the one zucchini I got was a nice large one before I lost my plants. These are in containers off the ground, I treated well with diatomaceous earth and replanted plants. I have been spraying the base of the plants with garret juice and orange oil and so far so good. However I wanted to know what you thought if you have encountered this. I also have nematodes to put out this weekend. Thanks

    • admin
      06/19/2015 at 10:02 am

      Hi Sylvia. My experience is that they are very hard to manage. One thing that I Have read about doing is to place some yellow traps for the borer adults. Squash borers are attracted to yellow, so if you put out a yellow container filled with water, you make catch them in it. Most management programs for treating them try to deal with it before they enter the stem. Once inside, they are very hard to manage. Placing row covers on the plants early helps.
      If you use insecticides, do it at the stem area when the vines start to run. Permethrin Is one commonly used.


      You can also use yellow trap pans to detect squash vine borer adults. This can be any container (e.g. pan, pail, bowl) colored yellow and filled with water.

  2. Pam
    07/12/2015 at 9:17 pm

    Is it necessary to actually destroy the squash bug eggs? If they are rubbed off of the leaves onto the ground will that suffice?

    • admin
      07/12/2015 at 10:06 pm

      HI Pam I would not let them stay in the ground nearby. They do such damage if they hatch. You can squash them, brush them into a bucket of soapy water, or wrap wide duct tape around your hands (sticky side out) and pick them this way and then discard.

  3. Pam
    07/12/2015 at 11:04 pm

    Many thanks Carol! I think I’ll try the duct tape trick for the eggs and also try some DE around the base of the plants. I can see starting zucchini or yellow squash from seed later in the season but the melons and winter squash seem to need all summer to bear fruit (we are zone 6). If it’s not one bug, it’s another!

    • admin
      07/13/2015 at 9:20 am

      My pleasure!

  4. Julie
    09/25/2015 at 11:13 pm

    Hi Carol, My butternut squash did not do well in one of my raised beds. I had brocolli, cauliflower and cabbage growing there over the winter. I live in southern california. I read some where that squash did not like growing where there had been plants from cabbage family. I had tons of organic matter, worm castings, weekly worm tea and irrigated drip system and they just would not grow. Several died and I replaced them. Now that it is mid September they seem to be growing better. I has been really hot here and that is not normal. I guess I will have to plant them somewhere else next year. I am bummed because I have limited space and not not rotate crops.

    • admin
      09/26/2015 at 12:35 am

      Hi Julie. I have better luck with squash when it is not quite so hot too. Crop rotation can be quite important but I agree that it is hard if you have limited space. Carol

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