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Old August 1, 2016   #1
eldemila
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Default Squash Bugs and Squash Vine Borers - What I Learned This Year

Each year I learn a little more with having a garden. This is my 3rd year.

The first year I knew nothing about the squash bugs and the SVB'ers.

Last year I thought the squash bug eggs I was seeing were the SVB eggs and that the squash bugs I was seeing were stink bugs. I did know about the SVB worm that would eat from the inside out and was able to pull out quite a few with my trusty crochet hook (one of the tiniest ones made)

So this year, I learned a lot. I learned that it's not good to plant your squash near where you put mulch. And the landscape timbers that are holding the mulch in place, well, the squash bugs love hiding in the mulch and under the timbers.

I have a carport and then a hill. This past year I put double ground mulch near at the top of the hill and the landscape timbers. Right below that I planted my winter squash crop (previous years I've had melons in this area).

I started seeing eggs in May. I quickly started removing them with lint tape. It's been a day in and day out process and struggle. After a while, when you have so many squash plants, and they start running, it's a bit hard to try to find where the SB's are laying there eggs if they aren't doing it on the top. But I'm vigilant, though I don't get them all. I've found eggs on blades of grass and even underneath the timers. I turn over the timbers and collect the little buggers in an old water bottle, or something of the like.

I've learned, if you see a mass of eggs, there is most likely another mass somewhere really close by. I've gotten good at finding the nymphs that have survived my lint tape removal and getting those off in mass, or just plain squishing them when I see them. I've gotten a lot less squeamish with catching bugs by hand and killing the nymphs this year!

It also seems that when you water on a hot day, they come out in droves. One day I did that and I must of easily caught 50 of them in one shot.


The SVB, there's not much I can do, they are too fast and too many. They are still out there laying their eggs. This is late for them compared to last year. I have pulled out a good 50 worms from my plants. About 6 a succumbed to their death from the borer, unfortunately.

I've tried to stay away from pesticides. The only thing I've used on occasion is insecticidal soap.

I can't even imagine what it would be like for next year if I didn't do what I've been doing with removing the eggs, and the SB when I see them. I've removed thousands of eggs, and hundreds of SB's. I have the winter squash crop on the hill but I have 4 raised beds of squash that are down in my actual garden. Those too have to be watched, but they've taken second fiddle to the ones on the hill.

Just thought I'd share my experience. Not a fun one. If I didn't love winter squash so much, I'd of given up. I usually plant squashes that are unusual. Next year I will be even more selective of what I grow. No more zuchinni and I will not try delicata again - 3rd year and no luck. Only summer squash I will probably grow is patty pan. I will grow some winter squash as summer - they seem to do very well doing that.
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Old August 18, 2016   #2
Greatgardens
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This was also a year for me about trying to effectively deal with SVB. I had a Patio Star plants in two, 14" planters. I inspected the stems consistently at least every other day, and still got SVB on one plant, even though I never found any eggs. ??? On the other plant, I coated the bottom ~4" of the stem with "Tangle-Trap" sticky coating. I reapplied once. I mainly wanted to see if it damaged the plant, and I could see no issues with that. No SVB on that one, but may or may not have had problems with that plant anyway. Not really an endorsement, and try at your own risk, but seemed to work good for me. I will coat all lants next year. I still found that my "good" plant (with no SVB) ran stopped producing about mid-July. That may be par for that variety in a container. But anyway, I got two to three more weeks of production than I usually do. BTW, I'm a fan of Patio Star for containers. Next year, I'll have another plant ready to go about the first of July.
-GG
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Old August 18, 2016   #3
gorbelly
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I inspected the stems consistently at least every other day, and still got SVB on one plant, even though I never found any eggs. ???
They can get sneaky and lay eggs on a leaf. They also sometimes lay eggs right under the soil line where they're hard to see. I inspect plants and pick off eggs by hand, but I also spray spinosad or Bt around the base--really drench every surface on the base of the vines and let some drip down into the soil right around the base to make sure the vines are covered just under the soil line. That seems to do the trick. I did get a borer further upstream in one plant in the hollow stem of a leaf higher up than I would normally spray. Saw one wilted leaf on an otherwise healthy plant, checked it, and saw the tiny bore hole. I injected concentrated spinosad into the hole just in case the borer was making its way down to the main vine. Seemed to do the trick.
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Old August 20, 2016   #4
Greatgardens
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Great! I'll keep that in mind for next year.

Edit: I wonder if it would be possible to breed a zucchini-type plant with solid stems? Probably the stuff of genetic engineering which would turn a lot of folks off. But seems like that would take care of the borer issue.

-GG

Last edited by Greatgardens; August 20, 2016 at 06:17 AM.
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Old August 20, 2016   #5
PhilaGardener
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I also have terrible SVB issues. You have been very vigilant but the onslaught is relentless.

Tromboncino is a solid stem C. moschata that can be used as a summer squash/zucchini type when young or a winter squash if left to mature. Also a great conversation starter when grown to full length!

I've tried wrapping stems in aluminum foil, but not the tanglefoot or spinosad treatments. All great ideas, along with getting bush style plants started under row cover.

Keep sharing your experiences, and good luck next year!
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Old August 20, 2016   #6
jillian
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eldemila View Post
Each year I learn a little more with having a garden. This is my 3rd year.

The first year I knew nothing about the squash bugs and the SVB'ers.

Last year I thought the squash bug eggs I was seeing were the SVB eggs and that the squash bugs I was seeing were stink bugs. I did know about the SVB worm that would eat from the inside out and was able to pull out quite a few with my trusty crochet hook (one of the tiniest ones made)

So this year, I learned a lot. I learned that it's not good to plant your squash near where you put mulch. And the landscape timbers that are holding the mulch in place, well, the squash bugs love hiding in the mulch and under the timbers.

I have a carport and then a hill. This past year I put double ground mulch near at the top of the hill and the landscape timbers. Right below that I planted my winter squash crop (previous years I've had melons in this area).

I started seeing eggs in May. I quickly started removing them with lint tape. It's been a day in and day out process and struggle. After a while, when you have so many squash plants, and they start running, it's a bit hard to try to find where the SB's are laying there eggs if they aren't doing it on the top. But I'm vigilant, though I don't get them all. I've found eggs on blades of grass and even underneath the timers. I turn over the timbers and collect the little buggers in an old water bottle, or something of the like.

I've learned, if you see a mass of eggs, there is most likely another mass somewhere really close by. I've gotten good at finding the nymphs that have survived my lint tape removal and getting those off in mass, or just plain squishing them when I see them. I've gotten a lot less squeamish with catching bugs by hand and killing the nymphs this year!

It also seems that when you water on a hot day, they come out in droves. One day I did that and I must of easily caught 50 of them in one shot.


The SVB, there's not much I can do, they are too fast and too many. They are still out there laying their eggs. This is late for them compared to last year. I have pulled out a good 50 worms from my plants. About 6 a succumbed to their death from the borer, unfortunately.

I've tried to stay away from pesticides. The only thing I've used on occasion is insecticidal soap.

I can't even imagine what it would be like for next year if I didn't do what I've been doing with removing the eggs, and the SB when I see them. I've removed thousands of eggs, and hundreds of SB's. I have the winter squash crop on the hill but I have 4 raised beds of squash that are down in my actual garden. Those too have to be watched, but they've taken second fiddle to the ones on the hill.

Just thought I'd share my experience. Not a fun one. If I didn't love winter squash so much, I'd of given up. I usually plant squashes that are unusual. Next year I will be even more selective of what I grow. No more zuchinni and I will not try delicata again - 3rd year and no luck. Only summer squash I will probably grow is patty pan. I will grow some winter squash as summer - they seem to do very well doing that.
I admire your diligence! I have decided that I do not love zucchini/squash enough to battle these devils. My first plantings were destroyed by them, despite my efforts at removing them. I thought I was so smart this year, I had the backups ready and planted them first week of July in new soil. Applied DE to the stems and all was well in the beginning. Then the wilting began . I just pulled them and here is what I found

In all 4 plants. Maybe it is my growing conditions, timing, or some other error on my part but I am finished with squash. I will be quite content purchasing mine from produce stand. The SVB's have won the battle

Jillian
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Old August 20, 2016   #7
gorbelly
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Applied DE to the stems and all was well in the beginning. Then the wilting began . I just pulled them and here is what I found

In all 4 plants. Maybe it is my growing conditions, timing, or some other error on my part but I am finished with squash. I will be quite content purchasing mine from produce stand. The SVB's have won the battle
FWIW, DE isn't really for soft-bodied insects. It works on hard-shelled insects because it abrades their exoskeletons and removes the waxy coating that protects them, then they desiccate. It doesn't always work well on soft, flexible-skinned pests like caterpillars and grubs.

And for people who don't like to use pesticides because of possible harm to non-pest organisms--DE is actually more broad-spectrum than Bt. DE will harm anything that has an exoskeleton, which means most pollinators and predatory insects. But Bt is very specific. BtK harms only moth and butterfly larvae, i.e., caterpillars, including the squash borer caterpillar. (BtI harms only the larvae of long flies like mosquitoes, blackflies, etc.). So it's actually less of a "pesticide" than DE and, unlike DE, it will actually work on borers if you spray the plants at the right time. The caterpillar has to eat the Bt for it to work--it's not a contact pesticide--and Bt doesn't kill its targets immediately. So Bt has to be on the vine when the borer starts boring into it so that the borer actually eats the Bt. It won't prevent the borer from boring, but it will hopefully kill the borer before it can eat through a lot of the vine and do enough damage to hurt the plant. If your timing is off, though, and the Bt has worn off or gotten washed off when the borer hatches and starts eating into the vine, it won't work.

In my experience, you should apply it at a higher concentration than the bottle indicates to the bases of the vines every few days once you start seeing eggs and reapply immediately if it rains. If you have a lot of plants, you won't get them all, as there will still be windows of opportunity for borers to get in if they hatch right after the Bt was washed off by rain or if you missed a spot or something. But it should help more than DE.

I've actually been wondering whether it might work to spray the Bt, then coat with vaseline or something on top after it dries to protect it from wearing off/washing off so quickly. But I have no idea whether that would inactivate the bacterium or what.

Spinosad is somewhat more broad-spectrum than Bt, so I use it sparingly. I think only at the bases of squash plants is a good use for it, since it doesn't come into contact with pollinators at all and covers a limited area on the plant.
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Old August 20, 2016   #8
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I have asked this same question on another thread but will ask again here: does anyone know if Met52 is effective against squash bugs? Also, could someone explain the difference between squash bugs and 'squash vine borers' as that is a new one to me.
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Old August 20, 2016   #9
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I have asked this same question on another thread but will ask again here: does anyone know if Met52 is effective against squash bugs? Also, could someone explain the difference between squash bugs and 'squash vine borers' as that is a new one to me.
I can't answer re: Met52 as I'm not very familiar with it. My impression is that it's not as thoroughly tested as some other biopesticides, and whether or not it harms beneficials is up in the air.

The difference between squash bugs and SVBs:

Squash bugs are true bugs that suck sap out of leaves and sometimes fruit.

Squash vine borers are the caterpillars of a red and black moth. They bore into the stems of squash plants and kill the vine by eating the inside of the stem. You often can't tell they're there until your squash plants wilt catastrophically overnight at which point, there's usually not much you can do to save them.
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Old August 20, 2016   #10
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Thanks much Gorbelly. Its squash bugs that drive me nuts. I had 30 squash plants in a row that yielded great in June and part of July this year. I thought I had lucked out til those buggers hit and wiped my plants out in about 3 weeks. Nothing I tried would stop them. Think I'l try tromboncino (spelling?) next year.
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Old August 20, 2016   #11
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Think I'l try tromboncino (spelling?) next year.
Just a heads up: tromboncino vines are BIG. Like 25 feet long big. So make sure you plan the space accordingly. I actually grow one of mine up a trellis against the garage wall. The vines took over the trellis and are now colonizing a good 8 foot stretch of the railing on the garage roof. I have another one on a trellis in a bed, which was a huge mistake. I've had to cut it back several times just because I simply don't have the space for it to run free. I was so miffed at having to cut the vines that I steamed the leaves and ate them as ssam to make myself feel better about the waste.

Some people have reported low production with their tromboncino. I ordered Franchi seed, and my vines are pretty darn productive as long as I water them very generously and feed them a lot. Unlike the hybrid vining ball squash I grew in past years, these really protest if you let them get hungry or thirsty and will sulk and drop their female buds unless you stay on top of watering and feeding. But if you're diligent, they produce well.
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Old August 20, 2016   #12
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OK,thanks for the advice, they sound real interesting. I may have to plant them on the back forty so they have plenty of room. Ron
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Old August 20, 2016   #13
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My tromboncino "only" grew to 8 ft, but they were vigorous.

I have seen them trained over a hoop cattle panel trellis so the fruits hang straight down - I think little kids would find that magical (too )!
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Old August 20, 2016   #14
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OK,thanks for the advice, they sound real interesting. I may have to plant them on the back forty so they have plenty of room. Ron
If you let them run on the ground, they should be pretty bulletproof where borers are concerned. They root aggressively at every node, so it would be really hard for even the notorious SVB to kill the plants. And as a bonus, you'll get them curling in that interesting french horn shape.

Trellising them gives up some of that resistance (and also may be why mine are so sensitive to not being watered and fed constantly, since all the nutrition and water is coming from one main root system and traveling 20+ feet), but I have to because of limited space, and taking the extra steps to protect the vines from borers isn't too much of a burden with my small number of plants and the fact that we only get 1 generation of borers here.

I don't think they have any special resistance against squash bugs--I've just heard that squash bugs just don't like them as much as other kinds of squash.

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My tromboncino "only" grew to 8 ft, but they were vigorous.
What a lot of people sell as zuchetta rampicante or tromboncino is probably lots of slightly different varieties from different regions and original seed sources.

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I have seen them trained over a hoop cattle panel trellis so the fruits hang straight down - I think little kids would find that magical (too )!
Ha! They get a lot of exclamations when I give them away. People seem to enjoy their weirdness.

Last edited by gorbelly; August 20, 2016 at 09:29 PM.
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Old August 22, 2016   #15
zeroma
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What you think is the squash vine borer isn't. You are picking off Squash bug eggs, they will lay eggs on and under leaves in little clusters of brownish red color. The adult of the svb looks like a wasp/moth. The svb has a different lifecycle from the squash bug.

See the pictures of them in this link:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/...h-vine-borers/ this is really full of great information!!!

What helps is to plant your squash plants later in the season by a month or more. That way the adults (red looking moth/wasp that when it flies is noisy) that lay the eggs will be all done.

Or you can use row covers if you start the plants as soon as your soil warms up in the spring.

It also seems that when you water on a hot day, they come out in droves. One day I did that and I must of easily caught 50 of them in one shot.

What you wrote:
"The SVB, there's not much I can do, they are too fast and too many. They are still out there laying their eggs. This is late for them compared to last year. I have pulled out a good 50 worms from my plants. About 6 a succumbed to their death from the borer, unfortunately."

My question, what is it that you are saying are too fast? a bug or a worm? When do you "see" the SVB? It isn't the SVB that lays the eggs. I think you are still seeing something other than SVB which is the larva (worm) which doesn't lay eggs, but grows inside the stem of the plant.

Here is a link that shows infant white and black adult squash bugs that do move fast in a video:
http://extension.umd.edu/growit/insects/squash-bug

Good luck with your zucchini growing next year.


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