A question came in last week from a concerned gardenerd:
“As we start to thaw (and possibly refreeze this coming weekend) out here
in NE TX, I’m planning my garden for 2011. We will be starting seeds
this weekend and a friend has offered us the use of their greenhouse, as
long as we share our harvest – no problem. My question as I start
planning, and remembering last year, what can be done about Squash Bugs?
I lost the battle last year, due to a back injury that put me in bed
for 3 months, partially to hand picking these things. I am dreading
planting squash and cukes this year because of these things. What
effective methods have you and your readers used to win the battle, or
at least keep ahead of them?”
I found some information that might
help. I haven’t personally had a squash bug problem, but I’ve had
harlequin bugs, which behave similarly except they don’t bore into the
plants. This document suggests several options including not using
mulch, using garden fabric to cover until blossoms appear, interplanting
with buckwheat, which attracts a predator bug, and laying down planks
to congregate them in one place.
I have also found some other gardeners online who sprayed
with neem oil every two weeks and it worked “like a charm” to keep them
away. Diatomaceous earth seems to work to some degree, but it depends upon the level of infestation.
Then we have the Big Guns: Both Rotenone and Pyrethrum are used in certified organic gardening/farming, but they are strong, so you need to be careful and follow instructions. I try to avoid using the big guns if at all possible, but if you have an infestation that can’t be contained, go for it.
Thanks for writing in! If anyone else has some tricks to share for managing squash bugs, feel free to post it here.