Avoiding the Dreaded Squash Borer

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I plant squash in my vegetable garden every year. I am always optimistic that this year will be better than last year, that somehow my squash plants will be immune to the squash borer

Squash almost ready to harvest

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, it’s an exciting time.

But then, every year, they begin to wither and die because it turns out they are no match for the squash borer.

Most of the squash plants end up dropping all their tiny squash before they die.

Damage to vine from squash borer

If I’m lucky, some of the larger plants will survive long enough to grow a squash or two that I can harvest. It’s the most frustrating thing.

Squash plants take up a ton of room in the gardens and it has come to the point where it’s not worth it for me to sacrifice that amount of growing space for a squash or two.

So this year I am determined to get more squash than ever, otherwise I might just give up. This year, I am determined to avoid the dreaded squash borer.

The squash borer bugs are active and lays eggs in late May/early June. I read that you could use row covers to cover the squash plants until they flower to keep the squash borer bug from laying eggs on your plants. 

Tulle fabric used for row covers

You could also use a lightweight garden fabric for this, or other lightweight material with a fine mesh.

I created my own row covers with tulle fabric I had left over from my wedding, this type of fabric is inexpensive to buy too. I also thought that I could have used old screen material, or found cheap curtain sheers at a garage sale.

I don’t think it matters what the material is made out of as long as it can keep the bugs out, and let rain, air and sunlight through.

Lay fabric over tomato cages

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

I simply laid some metal tomato cages on their sides and then laid the tulle over the top.

I secured the fabric down with rocks around the edges, and used clothes pins to attach the fabric to the tomato cages.

My homemade row covers made it through strong winds the other day just fine.

Finished homemade row cover

If this effort at avoiding the squash borer bug are unsuccessful, I am going to be diligent in my fight against the borer.

I don’t want to use pesticides, in fact pesticides aren’t effective against the borer anyway.

For fighting the borer, I have read that you can cut open the vine and remove the borer, then bury the vine and it will grow new roots.

Hopefully it won’t come to this, but it is good to know I have that option (and it would give me the satisfaction of destroying the borers).

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Comments

  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!

    Amy

  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!!).

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