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Squash Bug

Closer Look Of The Squash BugThe squash bug is a common pest to most cucurbit plants, especially pumpkins and squash, but not so much zucchini. Sometimes called the ‘stink bug’, because of the disagreeable order given off when crushed, they attack leaves of plants which develop small specks at first, then turn yellow to brown and soon begin to wilt. Smaller plants can be killed while larger ones experience a diminishment in their harvest. They appear to inject a toxic substance in the vines of the plant, causing them to die, turning them eventually black and crisp. Many times you will find these bugs on unripened fruit as well as the leaves.


Adult

Squash Bug AdultAdults are dark brown, about 5/8” long with sometimes a mottled with gray or light brown flat shell. New adults do not mate or lay any eggs the first year of their lives, but will feed all year until forced into hibernation. They try to overwinter in the soil and nearby debris, mate and lay eggs the second year. Typically shy, they run and hide when approached or disturbed.


Eggs

Squash Bug EggsThe orange-yellow to bronze-brown football shaped eggs are laid in the spring thru midsummer, are placed in clusters on the underside of leaves, usually in the vein axils. They quickly turn black and hatch in 10 to 14 days, and reach maturity in 4 to 6 weeks. Although there is only one generation of eggs per year, overwintering adults may continue to lay eggs until midsummer. Remember that eggs are not susceptible to insecticides, so don’t apply any chemicals to eggs.


Nymph

Squash Bug NymphYoung squash bugs are pale green to white, but later turn a dark brown, and are wingless. They congregate together at first, usually around the base or leaves of a plant, but later disperse to all parts. Small nymphs (larvae) are easier to control than larger ones with insecticides, so timing is critical to their control.


Vegetables That Squash Bugs Like To Eat

Cucumbers Melons Winter sqaushes Some Zucchini
Gourds Pumpkins

Control

Squash bugs are difficult to control. Some gardeners place boards next to their plants, which the bugs hide under. Turn the boards over in the morning and kill them. If populations are low, they can be hand picked in spring; using a hand vacuum makes this task easier.

Unmated adult bugs spend the winter under debris piles, so clean up the garden area in fall. This will help to reduce their spring and summer populations.

Using soapy water or carbaryl will also provide some control. Rotenone is said to be effective on younger bugs, but not the adults.

Floating Row CoverFloating row covers will protect most plants from squash bugs if applied early enough in the season.


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