How to Control Squash Bugs Organically

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How To Control Squash Bugs Organically

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…

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?

Squash Bugs On Squash Leaf

Squash Bugs On Squash Leaf

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.

Squash Bug Damage On Squash Leaf

Squash Bug Damage On Squash Leaf

Once you find squash bugs in your garden, immediately arm yourself with two things:

  1. A bucket of soapy water. Use enough liquid soap so there is some foam on the top of the bucket.
  2. 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.

Related Post: How to Build a Squash Arch

Squash Bug Crawling On Squash Plant

Squash Bug Crawling On Squash Plant

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 Bug Eggs On Squash Plant

Squash Bug Eggs On Squash Plant

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.



  1. K. Galloway says

    One of the ways ive controlled squash bugs, which was given to me by an organic gardener 30 years ago, was to put flower and cayenne pepper in a shaker annd apply liberally to plants. Works good. Also used pyrethrum but need to spray in evening after bees have gone to bed. Its a natural plant base insecticide.

  2. says

    Your recipe of Soap, water, and hard work is exactly what I do also in my yearly fight, however, for the eggs I use some masking tape around my hand, sticky side up and “sticky” them off. Works perfect and doesn’t damage leaves.

  3. Sharon P. says

    I have found that if I water the squash with a hose in the evening, getting them really wet, the squash bugs start crawling to the top of the plant. I pick them off and “squash” them, or drop them in soapy water.

  4. Mike says

    We scrape eggs first, all the plants. Last year we lost everything but so far this year, we’re winning. Bottom and top of leaves and even along the stems. After getting all the eggs we can find, I start gently watering. My wife following close behind with a soft tipped pair of BBQ tongs and an small can of soapy water. Seem they will run from hiding to the tops of the leaves when sprayed with plain water. Easy for her to grab and drop in the can. Make two trips with the water and tongs some are slower to climb than others.

  5. Sue Gilmore says

    I so appreciate this blog! Does it matter what kind of soap you use? Will dish soap be safe for your plants and lethal for squash bugs?

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