Squash Bug Control & Facts
Squash bugs are known for the unpleasant odor they use for defense.
In both adult and nymph stages, the squash bug sucks the juices from the plant, making the leaves of the pumpkin, squash or other gourds turn blackish and die.
So... What's a Squash Bug?
Squash bugs are known for the unpleasant odor they use for defense. Adult squash bugs are brownish gray to brownish black in color and measure approximately 5/8" in length.
They have a flat oval appearance. Nymphs are similar in shape to adults, but they are grayish white or green in color and are smaller than adults. Eggs are brownish yellow and grouped in clusters on the underneath of leaves.
Reproduction Patterns of Squash Bugs
Adult squash bugs overwinter under garden plant debris, field crop debris, old leaves or boards, and then emerge in the spring to mate. Female squash bugs lay their eggs in clusters on the underneath of leaves.
These eggs will hatch in a little over a week, and the nymphs will spend the entire summer going through 5 instars or moltings until they develop into adult squash bugs. There is usually only one generation of squash bugs produced in a year.
Squash Bug's Habitat
Found throughout North America, this pest feasts on squash and pumpkin plants, as well as other cucurbits. They can be found in agricultural fields or in home gardens, infesting the area in groups or colonies.
Symptoms of Squash Bug Damage
Blackened leaves and vines of gourds, smaller plants dying, and lack of fruit can all be symptoms of a squash bug infestation.
Results of Squash Bug Infestation
In both adult and nymph stages, the squash bug sucks the juices from the plant, making the leaves of the pumpkin, squash, or other gourds turn blackish and die. Smaller branches of the vine and smaller plants may die. The plant is usually unable to bear fruit.
Squash Bug Controls
The combination of Insecticidal Soap and Botanical Pyrethrins will kill Squash Bugs on contact if they are spotted on your plants.
Insecticidal Soap (Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids) & Pyrethrin - combined are the equivalent of a one-two knockdown punch. The soap will penetrate the Squash Bug's shell enough to weaken and dehydrate the insect and allow the pyrethrin to absorb in to the insect and do its job.
Pyrethrin is a nerve agent and will paralyze and kill the insect on contact. Keep in mind this soap is not like dish detergent, it's a base from a blend of natural plant sources and pyrethrin oils and comes from the chrysanthemum flower.
Spray Insect Soap & Pyrethrin as a contact killer. Use in accordance with directions on the product label.
Safer® Brand offers a variety of squash bug control products to help control and eliminate this garden pest and revive your plants. Please check out our squash bug control products for more details about how they work and how, when, and where they should be applied.
If you are concerned about a plant or unsure of how it will react to these solutions, test an inconspicuous area and wait 24 hours before applying full coverage. As a general rule, much like watering, do not use any liquid insecticides in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90°F.
Parasitic flies may be helpful in controlling squash bugs.
Parasitic flies lay their eggs inside the squash bug's body, eventually killing the host insect. Lure parasitic flies to your garden by planting nectar or pollen producing plants.
Once these garden helpers appear and attack the squash bugs, you will start noticing a decline in the squash bugs on your plants.
To aid the gardeners, parasitic flies can be purchased through a commercial insect breeder. Make sure if you purchase these insects you have an actual garden insect infestation or you may notice the parasitic flies migrating to your neighbor's yard in search of food.
Most local greenhouses and garden centers can help you determine the right planting time for nectar and pollen producing plants to ensure that the pollen and nectar will be available when the parasitic flies arrive.
If using commercially produced parasitic flies, be sure to read and follow all instructions that accompany the product to find out when to disperse the flies on the plants.
Removing plant debris and trash, handpicking squash bugs, and using row covers and trellises are all ways you can prevent or reduce a squash bug infestation.
Growing crops that are resistant to squash bugs and using fertilizer to promote healthy plants are two other excellent ideas in controlling these bugs.
Remove plant debris, keeping insects from having a place to hide or food to eat for overwintering. Removing trash also removes a place for them to hide. Handpick squash bug adults, nymphs and larvae from the leaves of plants. Look underneath the leaves for these pests.
Another idea is to lay a loose board in the field or garden overnight, and in the morning when you turn it over, you will find the squash bugs have congregated, making it easier to remove and destroy.
Use row covers to prevent them from reaching the pumpkins, squash or other plantings. Trellises will help keep the vines and plantings off the ground. Row covers and trellises can be purchased at your local garden center, online or from mail order catalogs.
Contact your local garden center to find out which plants are resistant to squash bugs. Also ask the garden professionals, read gardening books and magazines, and look at Gardening 101 on this website for information regarding fertilizing plants.
Remove plant debris and leaves right after harvesting. Tilling them into the soil keeps them from the hungry pests' mouths. Handpick squash bugs whenever you see them.
Use floating row covers after planting, but keep in mind you will need to hand pollinate the plants since pollinating insects will not be able to reach the plantings either.
Use trellises as soon as the vines start spreading out and running along the ground.
Read the fertilizer label or ask your local garden professional when the best time would be to use the fertilizer.
You can also look at our Gardening 101 page on this website for general information.
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