Squash Vine Borer Control in the Home Garden

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Squash Vine Borer Control
Squash is one of my favorite vegetables, and I grow it in my garden every summer. Each year I am optimistic that this year will be better than the last – and that somehow my squash plants will be immune to the squash borer.

It always starts out the same… my squash plants grow nicely with tons of flowers at the beginning of summer. By mid-summer they start to grow tiny squash from the flowers, and it’s an exciting time.

Healthy Squash Plant

Healthy Squash Plant

But then the inevitable happens… the squash plants begin to wither and die because it turns out they are not immune to the squash borer after all. To my dismay, most of the squash plants end up dropping all of their tiny squash before they die. It’s the most frustrating thing to watch.

Squash Borer Damage To Squash Vine

Squash Borer Damage To Squash Vine

The squash borer is the larvae of the squash borer bug. The squash borer bug lays its eggs on squash plants in early summer. Once the eggs hatch, the squash borer larvae will bore into the squash vine and feast. Eventually the squash borers will hollow out the squash vine, killing the plant.

Squash Borer

Squash Borer

Related Post: How to Build a Squash Arch

Tulle Fabric Used For Row Covers

Tulle Fabric Used For Row Covers

How to Protect Your Squash Plants

Row covers can be used to keep the squash borer bug from laying it’s eggs on squash plants. You can buy row covers that are made specifically for keeping bugs off your plants, or you can make your own. I made my own row covers with tulle fabric I had left over from my wedding. Tulle fabric is inexpensive to buy, it’s only about $1.40/yard at my local fabric store (and you can buy it even cheaper online).

There are lots of materials you could repurpose to make row covers too. Pieces of old screen material, thin curtain sheers, lightweight garden fabric, greenhouse shade cloth, or other lightweight material work great for row covers. It doesn’t matter what type of material the row cover is made out of as long as it can keep the squash bugs out and let rain, air and sunlight through.

Row Covers Help To Avoid Squash Borer

Row Covers Help To Avoid Squash Borer

I didn’t do anything fancy to make my row covers.

  • First, I simply laid some metal tomato cages on their sides.
  • Then I laid the tulle over the top.
  • Next I secured the fabric around the edges with rocks.
  • Finally, I used clothes pins to attach the fabric to the tomato cages.

My homemade row covers work great, and have made it through strong winds and rain just fine.

Related Post: How to Get Rid of Squash Borers Organically

Homemade Row Cover Over Squash Seedlings

Homemade Row Cover Over Squash Seedlings

Once the squash plants start to flower, the row covers need to be removed to allow bees to pollinate the flowers. It can be difficult to control the squash borer by using row covers alone – but if you time it right, you may be able to avoid the squash borer in your garden.

Have you successfully used row covers to avoid the dreaded squash borer? Leave a comment below and tell me about it.




  1. says

    I have also read that if you can tell where in the vine the borer is, you can push a sewing pin through the vine/stem and impale it, killing it. The vine supposedly grows just fine with the pin.

    I haven't had problems with them yet though, so I can't say if it works for sure!

  2. says

    Thanks for the info! I've only grown zucchini and yellow squash, and get plenty of them, before the vines die, so I didn't worry too much. Ofcourse, this year, I'm trying melons and butternut squash, so will have to be more careful to see if this gets affected by the borer!

  3. says

    Hi Michael, that sounds like a good idea too, thanks for sharing! I think I would want to see that I killed it though, and get that icky satisfaction. :-) I hope you never have to deal with it. You might live in a part of the country that doesn't get them. I thought squash borers were inevitable if you have the bugs in your area. Good luck!


  4. says

    I remember having this problem when I had a big vegetable garden. They infested my squash, pumpkins, and watermelons (if I'm remembering correctly). Good luck! I hope your row covers do the trick!

  5. says

    @RandomGardener – you're lucky to get so many, all types of squash do equally terrible in my garden. Good luck, hopefully the borer will be kinder to your squash than mine! :-)

    @PlantPostings – Thanks, I hope so too. I read that they can infest cucumbers too, but so far I haven't had that problem (knock on wood!!).

  6. says

    I have gotten them terribly the last 2 years. I heard about making a “tea” out of tobacco and pouring it over the plant, so I currently have some tobacco soaking and I am hoping this works. I have been leery of using row covers since it keeps the pollinators out too. Do you hand pollinate?

  7. Ron Mitchell says

    I’ve been using some used coffee grounds around the stem of my plants now for some years. It appears to be quite effective as I do not have the problems I used to have. It needs to be constantly replenished. From what I understand the scent of the grounds confuse their little brains. I believe Starbucks will give you a bag (along with the filters) of used grounds if you ask them. At least they were a couple of years ago. And I understand that butternut varities have too tough and wiry a stem for the borers.

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