Squash is one of the highest maintenance vegetables that I grow in my garden. I love squash, so I always fight the good fight against any bad bugs that try to steal my yummy harvests (don’t mess with me bugs!). Squash bugs are out in full force right now, keeping me on my toes in my latest battle for squash. Here’s the skinny on squash bugs…
Not to be confused with the squash borer bug, the squash bug (also known as the horned squash bug) is a common pest that can plague all types of squash and pumpkin plants. Squash bugs, both adults and nymphs, will feed on squash leaves, the vines and even the squash. Squash bugs can cause severe damage to squash plants if left untreated. Plus they’re gross, and who wants to see hundreds of them crawling all over their squash?
How to Control Squash Bugs Organically
The key to squash bug control is persistence. If you stay on top of the problem, then squash bugs won’t cause much damage in your garden (trust me, it sounds harder than it is). Squash bugs start to appear in mid to late summer. Keep an eye out for yellow and brown leaves that are curling up. If you find a yellow or brown leaf on your squash plant, look closely at the leaf, both top and bottom, and see if you can find any squash bugs crawling around.
Once you find squash bugs in your garden, immediately arm yourself with two things:
- A bucket of soapy water. Use enough liquid soap so there is some foam on the top of the bucket.
- A spray bottle filled with soapy water. In the spray bottle, I mix about one teaspoon of a mild liquid soap with one liter of water.
The soap will kill some of the squash bugs on contact, and the rest will be dropped into the bucket. I use Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild liquid soap for all of my organic garden pest control.
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Be warned: Squash bugs move fast, like really fast! And they are elusive little buggers. You have to be quick with the spray bottle and bucket. I find that it’s easiest to spray them with the soapy water first, and that will slow them down or kill them right away. Then I pick them off and drop them into the bucket of soapy water (yes, I wear gardening gloves for this disgusting task). Sounds hard, but it’s actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it.
Once I’m satisfied that I have more squash bugs in my bucket than the ones left in the garden, I take a little time to hunt for eggs. Squash bug eggs are pretty easy to spot, you just have to look under the leaves. As I find squash bug egg clusters on my squash plants, I carefully scrape them off and drop those into my bucket of soapy water too.
Squash bugs are one of those pests that you have to fight consistently in order to win the battle. Heck, you might even get rid of them completely if your garden is isolated from other gardens where squash is grown. I haven’t seen squash bugs in my home garden in almost 10 years (knock on wood)! As for the community garden… well that’s a different story. I’ll be battling squash bugs at the community garden as long as I grow squash there – that’s just the nature of community gardening.
To learn more about controlling garden pests organically, click here.
Now it’s your turn. Leave a comment below and tell me how you control squash bugs in your garden.