Friday, June 25, 2010

Squash Bug Hunter

It took me a few years to realize I needed to be proactive to control the annual squash bug invasion. I couldn't wait until I found a dead squash plant. That was too late.

This is a squash bug.

I started the daily squash bug hunt early this year. Missing a day here and there won't be the death of the squash plants, but I look over the squash plants really well the next time I'm hunting squash bugs. The adult squash bugs like to hang out in the mulch near the base of the squash plants. They don't like to get wet. I pour water around the base of the squash plants to chase the squash bugs out. Then, I grab them,

put them on a hard surface (sorry the camera lens cover got in the photo)

and step on them!

Splat! A squashed squash bug! Perfect!

My wonderful husband enjoys helping me catch the adult squash bugs when there are a lot of them. He will squish them in his fingers. Yuck. Squash bugs stink when you squish them.

I also check under the leaves of the squash plants for eggs and baby squash bugs.

Using a piece of duct tape rolled onto itself to make a tube, I "pick up" the eggs and baby squash bugs.

The squash bug babies start out as green dots with black legs and antennae. They look like a cartoon bug. They turn gray as they grow. I don't have a lot of baby squash bugs to show you because I've been keeping up with the eggs!!!

Now that I say that, there will probably be a explosion of baby squash bugs. I never find all the eggs or squash bugs.  By hunting squash bugs on a regular basis, I keep the population down enough that my squash plants survive. There is precious produce forming on the squash plants.

Once I've checked over all the squash plants (no, I don't look at EVERY leaf when the plants get big), I unroll the tape,

fold it over onto itself

and firmly press the tape together.

Squish! After that, I just throw the tape in the trash bin

Another day hunting squash bugs complete!

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  1. Excellent advice. I might need to go hunting myself.

  2. Ok, now I am officially never growing squash after seeing this. Bugs don't scare me much, but would hate to have to hunt them down and kill them, yuck ! Great post though, take care, Gina

  3. Yet, another use for duct tape.

  4. Who needs dinner and a movie when you can spend quality time on a squash bug safari?? ;-) I hate those little devils too! But I must confess, I'm not a good organic gardener. . yet! Sevin is my friend--though I intend in my gardening journey to get to be better!! I did buy some neem oil for my greenhouse crops, though never had to use it--wonder if it helps?

  5. Thanks for the lesson on squash bug removal. I wonder if they bother gourds? I better start checking.

  6. Good to know what they and their eggs look like. I don't know if I've seen them around here. Hope you are able to stay ahead of the squash bugs and gets lots of squash.

  7. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who hunts squash bugs! In fact, I'd say you're the first person I've heard of who is even more refined in your pursuit than I am!

    I tend to pick off the adults and drop them in the jar of soapy water that I take out to my garden each morning, once I notice bugs of any sort that need controlling. Nymphs get squashed by hand (quickly, as they are amazingly fast, and usually with a slight shudder). As for the eggs, I carefully tear out the area of the leaf they are on and drop it into the soapy water too. It doesn't seem to hurt the plant.

    Last year I didn't get my squash in until early July...and I had almost no squash bug population at all. So I'm hoping that was a result of the late timing and purposefully planting late this year.

    I'm going to try both the water at the base of the plants to flush out adults and the duct tape technique. Both sound like great refinements on my current methodology!

  8. Wow! There is a lot of science and skill going on in your garden! Hats off to you, friend! Sounds like Gaia Gardener has some fab approaches, too.

  9. The uses of duct tape just keeps increasing LOL! I neat trick with the water I wonder if it would work on the earwig invasion I have going on in my mulch?

  10. Sounds like a great plan and I wish you all the best. I hope you two have a great weekend with little to NO squash bugs!

  11. ~tina
    It's also a great way to relieve stress. STOMP!

    ~Antique ART Garden
    You can't be squimish for this to work. I hope you have gardening friends who share squash with you.

    I think it's #78.

    My husband finds it theraputic. I like "squash bug safari." I think I stopped using Sevin three or four years ago. It's been a transition. With more variety of plants in the garden, I get more variety of bugs and birds and have found somewhat of a balance. I still spray some ornamentals. A must on my lilacs during ash-lilac borer season. I use soap and water at times on the veggies. I used neem oil one summer on the squash bugs. I think it helped with the babies (who do the most damage) but didn't feel like it phased the adults. That's when I started squishing the adults. The duct tape came later. And, it's cheaper. Bonus!

    ~Roses and Lilacs
    I do find them on my ornamental gourds but not as bad. I read somewhere they prefer yellow squash and pumpkins which has proven true in my garden.

    I have a friend who hasn't found any squash bugs yet on his plants. I've been told once they find your garden, they stay and hibernate over winter keeping the "families" going. May squash bugs never find your garden.

    ~Gaia Gardener
    Hello! Thanks for visiting.
    The late planting for squash is an interesting plan. I wonder if they all move to the neighbors looking for food after hibernating. Hmmmm....
    I tried the soapy water in a bucket method and worried that I was just giving the adults a bath before returning them to the garden so I'd stomp on all of them still. That's when I figured, I could stop carrying the bucket and just stomp on them by the plants. I also removed bits of leaves with eggs. I think the duct tape trick is faster especially with those babies. They are quick. I still tear some leaves when they pack the eggs way down tight by a vein.
    Happy squash bug hunting!!!! :-)

    It is so cool to share tips and techniques on these blosgs isn't it?

    ~Hocking Hills Gardener
    Hi!! I don't know that much about earwigs but it's worth a try. Duct tape picks up black aphids well too!

    Thank you!!

  12. UG!

    Those little bastards are horrible! They try to ruin my pumpkin crop every year!

  13. ~Dirty Girl Gardening
    The love pumpkins!!! They did mine in last year too.

  14. My awesome wife squishes em under her strappy sandals, it gives a satisfying crunch, and it's fun to watch her doing so!

  15. Do they pop when stepped on?


  16. This page was very interesting our squash plants out grew their space and did not produce enough maybe the bugs kept the baby squash from growing will have to remember this.


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