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.
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!)
What have you found effective in dealing with Squash bugs?