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Squash Bug Battles

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?”

Image courtesy of Univ. of Maryland


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.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Valerie

    Thanks Christy for sharing my problem. I did want to update you on one aspect of our garden, the weather. We’ve had 3 snows here in NE TX, the first 8″, the second 4″ followed by 2″ the other day, and more freezing is on the way, after getting back up into the 70’s this weekend and early next week. I am hoping the cold will diminish some of our woes with the squash bug.

    We did try neem oil last year, and had some results, but it worked better on the grasshoppers than the squash bugs. I will try the buckwheat and big guns this year, as well as a few home made toad houses. Thanks again.

  2. AmyLu

    I was thrilled to see this post because I am dreading the awakening of my squash bugs from last season’s horrific infestation. I had already decided to apply nematodes (which I didn’t see mentioned in your post–are they not effective for squash bugs?) and to skip planting squash this year. I love your idea of planting buckwheat to attract a predator. (How distasteful is said predator, though?) Is there a source you recommend for buckwheat seed?

    Thank you!

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