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Squash Bugs Control Tips That Work 100%

March 16, 2018
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Squash bugs are a scourge, one of the most annoying and cause of distress to gardeners. They are difficult to identify and also kill hence they cause a lot of chaos and havoc. The name squash bugs came about since they are mostly found on squash plants but they also regularity found on pumpkins as well. The damage that is caused is often exclusive and restricted to the cucurbit family, which consists of melon, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber. It is easy to mistake squash bugs for stink bugs. They are both very similar in appearance and also have the same odor, which is foul. The major difference between the two is that stinkbugs are rounder and wider.

Identification

The body of a squash bug is fairly large in comparison to other insects; it is about a half inch long. It has a flat back that is in grayish or brownish. The undersides and the edges of the abdomen have stripes that are orange in color.You are probably asking yourselves, do squash bugs fly

Squash Bugs

The bugs can fly; the mature ones have an overlapping structure of wings that make the shape of an X at the back.In as much as they can fly, they are often found walking on plants. The younger squash bugs are gray with black legs. All the squash bugs are often found on bases of leaves and are in groups. They overwinter on vines, buildings, dead leaves, and under boards. During the mating season, the bugs fly over to garden plants to mate. This happens immediately the vines start forming. The squash bugs eggs are laid in masses on the undersides of the leaves of the garden plants. It is common to find the adults near the plant crown and beneath the damaged leaves.

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What Damages Do They Cause?

A squash bug bite is not toxic to human beings or animals; however, it does inject toxins into plants. The nature of the sharp and sucking mouthparts allow the bugs to suck out all the sap right out of the plants. The damage that the bugs cause leads to yellow spots that turn brown with time.The leaves wilt since the damage actively prevents the flow of nutrients.

Squash Bugs

The leaves end up drying, turn black, and eventually become brittle. In rare cases, they develop ragged holes on them. Small plants eventually die off since they cannot survive the damage. It is important to pay attention to the wilt since it can be easily mistaken for those that are caused by bugs that look like squash bugs, cucumber beetles. It is important to look for the eggs and bugs to know which method to use to get rid of them.

In as much as these bugs are not toxic to human beings, they can cause problems. A specific breed that is found on the eastern coast is known for giving people the squash bug rash. It is very similar to the poison oak rush.

How to Eradicate Squash Bugs

1)Hand-Picking

One of the best ways to get rid of squash bugs once you locate them it to hand pick them plus their eggs. It is considered one of the best ways since you are guaranteed that they will be easily rid of. However, it is good to note that you should never use your bare hands and always ensure that you have protective gear on such as gloves. You cannot only expose yourself to a rash but also other complications especially if you accidentally mistake the bugs and squash other insects that are toxic.

If you settle on getting rid of the bugs yourself, do it simply by squashing them. To be prepared, it is advisable to keep a jug of soapy water in the garden. The time is also of the essence. The best time of the day is either in the morning or in the evening since they will be easily traceable at that moment.

Squash Bugs

You can always pick the bugs from the leaves and drop them in the soapy water, which is designed to kill them. Always ensure that you check beneath the leaves since that is the area where the adult squash bugs are found. This especially applies to leaves that are found very low and almost touching the ground. For a more thorough search, you can check at the base of the plants where they are also found. For easier recognition, pay attention or look out for rows of eggs that are gold in color on the undersides of the leaves. The eggs can be easily destroyed. Scratch them or scrape them from the leaves and to ensure maximum destruction drop them in the soapy water as well. Always be very careful when doing this given that you want to minimize the damage you cause on the leaves of the plant. You can simply just squish them and drop them in the water. Alternatively, you can use a very sticky tape that will pick them up with minimal damage. If you choose this handpicking method, you have to be vigilant and pick them every day until you are guaranteed that they are gone.

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2)Companion Plant

For the longest time that companion planting has been in existence, it has been considered a helpful old tradition. It is a technique used in gardening involving planting plants (two or more) near each other to reap benefits such as fighting off pests. It also has more benefits such as higher yield and vigorous growth.A lot of trial and error techniques, as well as research, go into finding at which plant pairs with which one.

Squash Bugs

The best way to get rid of squash bugs when using companion crops is to choose the plants that deter squash bugs. There are numerous ones that you can use such as white icicle radishes and nasturtiums. The other ones that you can also try are marigold, oregano, dill, and calendula can provide a degree of protection though not entirely. You can plant these crops all over your garden to ensure that you protect the majority of your plants.

3)Over-Planting 

One of the easiest and also effective methods that you can use to control these bugs is overplanting. The more plants you choose to plant, the more there will be to go around. You can easily discover this by experiments on squash plants. The first year you can dedicate to planting a lot of scalloped squash and zucchini.

Squash Bugs

The result will end up with you discovering that squash bugs always prefer the scalloped squash ten times more to the zucchini. With this finding in mind, the next year you will just plant a few scalloped squash as a means of sacrificing them to the bugs to save the other plants, and it will work. It is a fundamental yet very effectual method to use as a control measure. If you are too lazy or maybe you lack time you can always use this method by planting excessive amounts of what you need in the garden. The result will be that you will end up with just a few plants that you did not need succumbing to the pests. This will minimize the predicted loss that you would have suffered as a result. Planting a variety of plants will also work.

4)Know the Squash Bug Lifecycle

Knowing the life cycle of any pest is very important. You can do this by research on search engines on the internet. In such cases, being aware of the life cycle will help you understand how to control them by knowing which planting season to use. When it comes to the squash bug life cycle, the data is very simple. They overwinter as adults in areas that are very sheltered such as buildings. They emerge in spring for mating purposes.

The females lay eggs in very small clusters of about 20 underneath leaves. In rare cases, they deposit the eggs in stems. The eggs always hatch after 10 days exactly. The nymphs take another 4 to 6 weeks before they can be termed as adults. They are all characterized by the fact that they are very secretive and, therefore, quickly scurry even in the slightest of disturbance.

Squash Bugs

A generation is developed every year. Although it cannot be proven, it is possible that a second generation is developed during the summer. Sometimes the life stages overlap meaning they can be seen all throughout the planting and growing season. The nymphs always end up dying when it is too cold. If you master this life cycle, it will be easy for you to skip the squash bugs depending on the season. If you plant your crops later in the season, there is a high possibility that you will have fewer bugs to deal with. If you adopt this method, you have a guaranteed month or two of no disturbance at all. It is good to experiment with the seasons to make sure you are on the right track.

5)Keep An Eye On Mulch

In as mulch is good for your garden, it can pose a serious problem too. If not controlled, it is what will attract the bugs into your home. It all depends on the material that you are using for your mulch. Luckily, there are several that are known to repel pests. However, for others like wood mulch, depending on the depth, they can be the result of the bugs invading your garden. Squash bugs are drawn to very moist areas. Therefore, it goes without saying that the deeper the mulch, the higher the amount of moisture hence the higher the number of pests.

The mulch is more of a protective housing for the bugs even during winter. It is prudent that you do not put the mulch right up against the base of the plant, as this would result in it acting as a house.You can alternatively use plastic mulch that is advised.

Squash Bugs

They are inorganic and usually come in clear black and aluminum coated sheets. This enables it to act as a very strong reflective base for the sun keeping away the bugs from your plants. However, their use is limited to leaves that do not provide a total shade of the soil from the sun since it will be ineffective.

6)Attract Beneficial Insects

In as much as it is advisable to use insecticides, it is tough to differentiate between the organic ones and those that are not. Sometimes, some companies mislead you into thinking that you are using an organic one yet it is just false.  

With other companies, they do not differentiate between the good organic and the bad ones. The bad thing about using inorganic and bad organic pesticides is that they kill indiscriminately meaning they will also kill the beneficial insects. One of these insects is Tachinid Fly.This is a very helpful insect since it serves a very good purpose of controlling the population of squash bugs.

Squash Bugs

The female species of this specific insect lays her eggs on the adults of the squash bugs. This will result in them hatching and eventually burrowing into the host leading to the squash bug dying. A good strategy would be to plant companion plants that will attract these beneficial insects such as calendula just right next to your squash plant. They will attract the Tachinid Flies leading to the death of most of the squash bugs.

7)Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is in powder form. The powder is made from grounding several diatoms. It is an efficient way of not only killing squash bugs but most of the other pests as well. Its major technique is cutting up the exoskeleton of insects microscopically and eventually dry them out. 

Squash Bugs

DE always comes in two types namely the industrial grade and the food grade.Both of this works wonders, but if you are looking to get rid of squash bugs, you should choose the food grade. It is simple to use given that all you need is to spread a layer of it on the base of the plants that have been infested with the bugs. However, you should note that the powder does not work once it gets wet so if there is rain you should reapply it. In as much as the powder helps when it comes to adult bugs because of the hard shell that they come with, they effectively kill off all they nymphs preventing the next generation from maturing. The nymphs are also the most destructive population of the squash bugs so getting rid of them first is a good idea. However, keep the powder away from the blossoms of the plant since it will also kill the beneficial insects such as bees and ladybugs.

8)Homemade Traps

Do you ever get caught thinking, “how to get rid of squash bugs in my house?” In some cases, they penetrate, and you will squash bugs in the house. In the winter the adult bugs retreat to buildings, and you might be unlucky and be one of the hosts they choose. In other times, if you are planting the squash in your home, whether in the back or on the balcony, they will also invade. It is crucial to know when and how to remove them.

One of the basic ways is to use homemade traps. This can easily be done by using what we can label as a trap crop. This can easily be done by using an early squash crop. This means using one that matures fast and also is planted at the very beginning of the season.It can easily entice the bugs so that they will all be trapped in one designated location.

Squash Bugs

After planting, it is advisable that you place a piece of cardboard or even wood just beneath the base of each plant. This will provide a place for the bugs to hide under the females will also lay their eggs there. The use of the planks is to make it easily removable after the bugs have accumulated. Alternatively, you can also use a floating row cover. This ensures that the plants are protected from any infestation and works well since it does not require a lot of work on your end.

9)Natural Spray

There is no specific squash bug insecticide. Most of them are general and end up not working as effectively as it would have been predicted. However, it is good that you learn how to get rid of squash bugs with chemicals. Some of the chemicals you can make them in the comfort of your own home. In fact, this will save you a lot of money and can also result in a lot of quantity that is reusable over long periods of time. You can easily make a soil treatment at home especially if the bugs are taking shelter on leaves that are very close to the ground.

Mix water with onion and garlic in a very large bowl. You could allow the mixture to sit still for numerous hours since this helps strengthen the scent. After you can tell that the solution is strong enough, pour it at the base of the infested plants. Make a lot so that you can manage to pour some several milliliters to each of the plants.

Squash Bugs

This will help clear out the bugs in no time. Alternatively, if you are targeting the squash bugs specifically, pour a little amount of Castile soap into a spray bottle. Make sure you use a spray bottle to minimize on usage. Fill the castile soap with water. Spray the plants, especially in the morning since it works best at this time. You can also save much of the solution if you only target the affected plants and directly spray the undersides of the leaves and the base of the plant.

How to Prevent Them

After you have managed to control the squash bugs, your next move should be to learn how to prevent squash bugs from infesting again. Preventing them is the key to stop dealing with the menace in the future. If you have not experienced them yet, it is also important that you have a few precautionary measures up your sleeve. Below are some few tips that you can use to help you prevent the bugs from pervading your squash plants:

  • When the fall finally kicks in, make sure that you compost or burn all the old squash vines that you have in the garden. As mentioned earlier, the bugs retreat to the vines during winter so you should get rid of them beforehand.
  • One of the preventative tips is to avoid deep mulches that are cool and extra moist. They provide a good breeding ground for the bugs.
  • Practice crop rotation as often as possible. This will starve out the squash bugs since they will have nothing to feed on.
  • Always consider covering all the vines before blossoming begins. There is no reason to keep them open since they will only provide an environment for breeding. For this to be effectual, you must know your plants well as well as the time that maturing takes so that you do not prevent them from what they require. It is advisable only to remove the covers when the plants require pollination. Given that there is only one generation, and at most two, of the squash bugs every year, covering the plants will save you a lot since you will avoid them annually. You can also decide to cover them only during spring and also, to avoid the second overlapping generation, delay planting when it comes to the early months of summer.
  • Also always have a backup of companion plants with you; they effectively prevent all the bugs from invading your garden. Use the repelling plants since they work effectively in both controlling the current bugs and preventing future bugs.
  • If you are interested in a wide variety of squash plants, you should always choose the ones that are resistant to squash bugs instead of the ones that are more susceptible. The ones that are resistant are Sweet Cheese, Butternut, and Royal Acorn.
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