Squash Bugs Are Eating My Zucchini
This Is Not For The Squimish
It is hot outside and I am cranky. The neighbors across the street think I am crazy and I want zucchini.
We had squash for dinner tonight and it was delicious. There have been wonderful hubs like hyphenbirds hub on zucchini chips that I have been collecting this summer. Usually by now we should be a little tired of squash. Not so this summer, unfortunately I didn't identify the bugs on the plants right away. I thought they were good bugs. They suck the life out of beautiful squash flowers like a vacuum.
A picture of soldier beetles on a sheet about beneficial bugs in the garden lead me astray. They looked sort of like the beetles I saw in the garden. I was wrong. Terribly wrong. In the past when I have seen these beetles, usually late in the summer I squash them. This year because I saw that picture mercy knew no limits. No more mercy for those squash suckers.
Now there is news of terrible plagues of Soldier Beetles. What is a poor gardener to do?
A full blown attack is waging in the front yard. Agony, watching beautiful zucchini plants wither, the lifeblood sucked out of them. So far the cantaloupe in the back seem fine, but the enemy is ruthless. It flies, crawls, hides, lays eggs and sucks the life out of the plants. As adults they are nearly impossible to kill, the eggs are laid on the underside of the leaves, stick like glue as they seek to produce more soldiers for the army.
Learning about squash bugs causes me more concern. The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources confirms squash bugs are indeed the problem.
Plan Of Attack
- Clear any weeds that may be around plants.
- Feed plants with a good organic vegetable food.
- Keep plants well watered.
- Consult on-line consultants like your State Universality
- Go to your local nursery.
After I decided I was losing the battle I went looking for my bottle of Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew. I tried it on the little gray bugs that I thought were the culprits. It has Spinosad, a microbial, fast acting organic solution that is toxic to bugs. It didn't seem to slow the feeding frenzy. Then I went back to the University of California Davis Ag site. I couldn't believe there were no natural predators for these bugs.
Small Gray Spider Like Bugs Surround Leaves
There are so many different sizes colors and shapes could these all be squash bugs? "Yes, they are." my said "They are hard to get rid of. You can plant radishes. That might help". Yeah, a little late for that. Captain Jacks Dead Bug Brew is good. I have had really good results with Captain Jack, but he didn't help much with these squash killers. master gardener
They say late in the season there is little to worry about concerning squash bugs. Not helpful during prime production time. Hunger for squash is causing great anguish. Two plants are gone. Trying desperately to save the rest of the garden. Melons are just ripening, so they have to be protected. Squash bugs attack melons also.
R2D2 Started Out As A Rainbow Vacuum
Several articles said hand pick bugs off the plants, then throw into sudsy water. There are hundreds of bugs and they run fast. I needed water and force. If force be the key then R2D2 came to the rescue. Yes, Star Wars was originally made out of a Rainbow vacuum cleaner. The basin that dirt goes into is full of water. I added bleach, because soap makes R2 choke. Vacuumed those plant suckers on Sunday night, and Tuesday night, The neighborhood is full of gardeners, but the new people across the street think I am crazy. Saturday the war on the zucchini plants was lost. The yellow squash are withstanding the attack a bit better than the zucchini did. R2D2
Difficult To Eradicate
These bug are difficult to eradicate. Identifying the culprit early then attack with everything you can. Hand pick the adult beetles and throw into soapy water. Vacuum every little bug and egg you can spot and keep picking until you see no more. I picked a very sluggish adult off the yellow squash this morning day 12 of the battle.
I love the master gardeners at the farmers market. They have such good ideas. One of my favorite gardener told me, "If you don't want to kill your snails and squash bugs put them into a container and take them to the duck pond. Bugs make much better food for the ducks than bread".
Why didn't I go out to the farm and borrow some chickens or ducks? They would have gotten the job done, and fertilized the garden. Good idea for next year.
Next summer we plant radishes everywhere we plant squash and melons.
Yellow Squash First Bloom After Bug Attack
The Last Squash
We had summer here until the early November. We ate our last squash from the surviving squash plant last night.( December 4) Yum.
Remember, these vermin live through the winter, so clear away bug infested plants so these beasts will be on notice not to show up in next years garden.
Radishes don't grow here during the summer band it is too hot. So the plan is planting them as a spring crop. Then we will see if they really are a deterrent to squash bugs.
If you don't especially like radishes, no worries. You can always share them with the neighbors or your local women's shelter or food bank. Food should never go to waste.
Summer Once Again
It's been a warm spring. The squash are doing splendidly producing to their fullest. Planted radishes right next to the squash and they are flourishing.
Until last week.
While weeding the zucchini just started drooping. Checked for bugs and found a couple of huge squash beetles. Immediately squashed them. Picked some radishes and ground them with some water in the blender, then poured the solutions over the plants.
My friend told me years ago to find the tomato worm attacking your tomato grind up the worm in the blender then pour solution around the plant. That works so why shouldn't ground radish work.
Next morning the plants were bright and beautiful.
The Battle Continues
After several days of strong vibrant plants...
The flowers are still withering on the vine. The squash look haggard, but we may be winning, just picked another beetle off the vine. Researching organic pesticides I discovered this hub by Joe Macho concerning hydrogen peroxide as a pesticide. I just mixed up a batch and sprayed the larva on the underside of the leaves. Hopefully this will do the trick. Stay tuned for the results.
A More Savvy Gardener
I am now a more savvy gardener. When I find a bug I don't recognize I pick a sample and take it to the local nursery. This summer my sample turned out to be an Elder Box Beetle. In small numbers there is no problem. While determining whether to return him to my garden I mentioned squash beetles. The master gardener just laughed, "Nothing works, but a vacuum". At least I'm not the only crazy who uses a vacuum in her garden. We have had a hot summer here and squash doesn't seem to be too happy about it, but I haven't had any squash beetles either.
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