Well, I tried avoiding it… but it’s a lost cause. Alas, the squash borer bug found my squash plants. But don’t worry, we can still get rid of them! If you want to get rid of the squash borer and keep them from destroying your squash harvest this summer, I have some great, all natural pest control options for you to try. But first, let’s talk about the pest we’re dealing with.
What is a Squash Borer?
The squash vine borer is the larvae of the squash borer bug (a type of moth which, I hate to admit, is actually kinda pretty in it’s adult form). Squash borers burrow into squash vines and feast on the plant from the inside out. If a squash borer infestation is left untreated, the entire squash plant will collapse and die. A droopy squash plant is usually the first sign that the squash borer may be munching away inside your squash vines.
Signs of The Squash Borer
If you have a droopy squash plant in your garden, get down on your hands and knees and take a closer look at the vine. Start at the base of the vine and inspect it all the way up the plant. If you see any of these signs…
- Holes in the vine
- Mushy stuff that looks like sawdust anywhere on the squash vine
- The vine itself is mushy
…then there’s probably a squash borer inside your squash vine.
Related Post: How to Control Squash Bugs Organically
Don’t worry, just because there are squash borers inside your squash plant doesn’t mean your plant has to die, it’s pretty easy to get rid of squash borers organically by using a simple and safe pest control method I like to call – digging those nasty suckers out of the vine. Ha!
How to Get Rid of Squash Borers Organically
To remove the squash borers from squash vines, carefully slice open the vine the long way and pry it open. Make the cut just above the spot where you see the hole or sawdust mush.
Once you pry open the vine, you might see the ugly squash borer right away, or you may need to search around for it. You can’t mistake the borer when you see it, squash borers are white worms with black heads. Gross right?
Once you see the squash borer inside the squash vine, pluck it out with a needle and then either squash it (pun intended!) or drop it into a bucket of soapy water to kill it. I use Dr. Bronner’s baby-mild organic soap to make my soapy water mix, it works fast and it’s also a non-toxic, safe pest control option.
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Even if you remove a borer from the vine, it might not be the only one in there. Sometimes there is only one, but many times you’ll find several squash borers in one squash vine. That’s why it’s important to inspect the entire length of the squash vine for signs of the squash borer.
Squash borers can be different sizes, and the smaller ones (which can be so small they’re barely visible) are a bit harder to spot than the big fat ones. Sometimes it’s easier to squish the squash borers inside the squash vine than it is to remove them. That’s ok, squash borer guts won’t harm your squash plant.
Adult Squash Borer Control
You can also use non-toxic pesticides to help control the adult squash borer moth. A few of my favorite natural pest control options, are diatomaceous earth and neem oil, both work great to control pests in the garden. Putting row covers over the top of young plants helps to keep the squash borer moth from layer her eggs in the first place. You can buy row covers that are made specifically for the garden, or you can make you’re own out of inexpensive tulle fabric.
Once you have removed the borers from the vine, bury the injured part of the squash vine in dirt. Squash vines will grow new roots under the dirt, and the plant will grow even stronger because of it.
Also keep in mind that sometimes you’ll see signs that a squash borer is in the vine, but you can’t find anything after you cut the squash vine open. Don’t be discouraged, maybe the squash borer already left the vine, or it was so small you squished it without seeing it. Just cover the injured part of the squash vine and move on.
I’ve been fighting the squash borers in my garden for several years using these all natural pest control methods. Since I started getting rid of squash borers organically by digging them out of the vines, I haven’t lost a single squash plant. It takes some work, but it’s totally worth it to have an awesome squash harvest.
More Posts About Organic Garden Pest Control
- How to Control Squash Bugs Organically
- Organic Garden Pest Control: Japanese Beetle
- Controlling Flea Beetles in the Garden
- A Six-Step Approach to Organic Gardening Pest Control
To learn more about controlling garden pests organically, click here.
Do you have any all natural pest control strategies to get rid of squash borers in your garden? Leave a comment below and tell me about your experiences.