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Dealing with Vine Borers and Squash Bugs

Two of the most consistent pests in the summer affect the squash plant. Dealing with vine borers and squash bugs organically can frustrating and these two insects are frequently responsible for many people giving up on gardening.   

If you are going to grow squash, I can almost guarantee an encounter with these fellas. Take a moment to let that sink in. Accept it. Make your peace with it. The happiest gardeners are those who work with nature instead of fighting to manipulate her.

Pest Management for Squash

Squash bugs

  • Planting nasturtiums or marigolds in and around squash plants will repel squash bugs. 
  • Place a damp wooden board on the ground near the base of your squash plants. Squash bugs are attracted to the environment under the board and will congregate there.
  • In the evening and early morning, take a bucket of soapy water on your garden walk and inspect the undersides of leaves and the stem for eggs, larvae or grown squash bugs. Pluck them off and drop them in the bucket. Pick up the damp board and smash the squash bugs or drop them in the bucket.

Vine borers

  • Cut a toilet paper roll vertically, wrap it around the base of the squash plants and tape it closed. This will prevent the vine borer moth from laying her eggs in the main stem of the plant.
  • Companion plant onions with squash to repel the vine borer. 
  • Choose winter squash varieties instead of summer squash. They are less susceptible to vine borers.
  • Plan on having a short season. Summer squash matures quickly, so you can just plan on doing a few squash crops over the course of the summer instead of trying to keep your first crop alive all summer. Succession plant squash every few weeks for the best chance of getting a decent crop of summer squash.
The best advice I can give you when it comes to dealing with vine borers and squash bugs is: don’t get discouraged. We get hungry and so does nature. Do what you can to prevent damage, but understand that it does happen and it is a learning experience. Last year I let aphids take over my squash in order to attract ladybugs. If you allow nature to thrive, your garden will find a healthy balance without chemicals.

Do you have any tips on getting rid of these pests?


  1. Squash vine borders have been my biggest nemesis. I tried "surgically" removing them, but inevitably the plant suffered too much from the trauma to continue producing well. My best zucchini crop came from planting in compost in late June (both enabled quick growth), which produced more zucchini than I needed before the borer killed them. A homesteading friend recommended wrapping the base of the vines with foil, similar to your toilet paper roll suggestion. I think I'll try that this year.

  2. They have been my biggest problem, too! Wrapping with foil does work, I just like the toilet paper roll because it decomposes and I know I'll forget to remove the foil. :) Good luck!

  3. I read somewhere that they squash bugs die if the soil is too wet. Considering the enormous volumes of rain we had this year, and the fact that we actually harvested six yellow squash so far, I'd say there is something to that. The advice I read was to flood the garden a couple of times. Not sure that is "organic" if normal tap water is used, though. Not to mention cost-effective?

  4. I sure hope that's the case! I have seen a few, but I usually have a few each year.

  5. Normally we are decimated every year. This year, not so much...yay!


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