Squash bugs are known to attack Zucchini, Winter Squash, and Pumpkins. They can also go after cucumbers, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
Squash bugs can do a lot of damage to young new plants. These pests will inject a toxin into the plant, enabling them to suck the sap out of it. This causes the plants to have yellow spots which then turn brown leaving the plant wilting and finally turning black and drying up. Smaller young plants will surely dye, but if they get into your garden in later summer or the fall the plants will most likely sustain minor damage.
Preventing Squash Bugs
The best way to control Squash Bugs is to do a few things to prevent them from entering your garden.
- In the fall – clean the garden of any old squash vines – I clean up and til my garden in the fall
- Crop Rotation has many benefits – including pest control
- Grow Squash varieties that are resistant to the squash bug – Acorn and Butternut Squash are two
- Companion Planting – we companion plant every year and our crops grow wonderfully.
- Plant nasturtiums and marigolds around your squash – they help with pests in the garden
- Avoid thick layers of Mulch – this is a place these bugs really like.
- In Spring early detection is key – If you see any bugs you want to get rid of them ASAP
Squash Bugs in the Garden
Keep a keen eye on your squash plants early in the spring as they are growing, the squash bug loves young plants. If you see any of these bugs start by doing these things:
- Fill a bucket up with water and liquid dish soap
- pick off any bugs you see and put them in the bucket
- Check for egg masses and scrape them off in the morning and early evening
- Get rid of any plant debris on a regular basis (compost)
The most eco-friendly way to kill squash bugs is to kill them by hand or foot and then drop them and their eggs into soapy water where they are unable to escape.
Organic Squash Bug Control
Diatomaceous Earth is a great pest control not only for Squash bugs but for other pests as well. It is made from hard-shelled organisms and ground up into a fine powder. Sprinkle the diatomaceous earth powder directly onto the bug.
Organic insecticidal soap for Squash Bug – these soaps will kill the bugs on contact and are sometimes best to use when you have many bugs. The minimum it will do is slow the bugs down enough to catch them and put them in the bucket of soapy water. There is no residual effect with the insecticidal soap so it needs to be sprayed directly on the bug to be effective.
Once the squash bugs become adults Insecticides are not effective in managing them, but if you catch them early in the spring when they are young bugs and when the eggs are hatching, then an insecticide application will work well.
It is best to go to your local garden center for more information and to find out what pesticides are available or approved in your area.
When using pesticides it is best to apply them when bee activity is at its minimum which would be late at night or in the early morning.