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Organic Squash Bug Control and Prevention


Today's organic squash bug control and prevention post is in response to a question from a reader:

"My biggest question for you at this time is about squash bugs.  I was absolutely overtaken by them last summer, and was wondering if there is anything organic I can use on my soil now to prevent them from re-infesting this year."




I get this question a lot. Squash bugs are mostly impervious to chemicals, not that I would recommend that to anyone, making them a problem for conventional and organic gardeners alike. Once they take over in large numbers, it is almost impossible to save your squash so the key is to catch them early and stay diligent.

Long-Term Squash Bug Control

The long-term solution to organic squash bug control and prevention is to attract wildlife to your garden. Turtles, frogs and praying mantises all eat squash bugs, as do some birds, including ducks. The more biodiversity in your garden, the better it will be able to balance its way out of an overabundance of any pest, including squash bugs. Keeping all chemicals out of the garden is a great way to start attracting wildlife. Also be sure to provide cool, damp areas for toads to live. I have a couple of beautiful and attractive toad houses. I also usually have an extra pile of straw mulch somewhere in my garden where I inevitably find toads. I find turtles all over my garden. Sometimes they will make a meal of a low-growing cucumber or cherry tomato, but that is a small price to pay for pest control.

Source

Crop Rotation

Crop rotation helps control the squash bug population. Eggs overwinter in the soil, so you don't want to feed these guys as soon as they emerge. The farther they have to travel for food, the less likely it is that they will survive. Never plant any kind of squash in the same spot two years in a row.

Biological Controls

If you have a tiny garden and cannot practice crop rotation, consider keeping a thin layer of Diatomaceous Earth (available from Gardener's Supply) on the surface of the soil when squash bugs are hatching. This may kill the larvae as soon as they hatch.

Squash bug eggs

Cultural Controls

Handpicking is not pleasant, but it really is the only method of control for adult squash bugs. If you start seeing adults, put a small, damp wooden board on the ground near your plants. Each morning go out with a bucket of soapy water, pick up the board, and brush the adults off into the soapy water so they drown. Adult squash bugs are attracted to the dark, damp environment. Remove any squash bugs on your plant, including nymphs found under leaves, and drop them in the soapy water. Inspect the underside of leaves daily and remove eggs.

NOTE: Squash bugs are very different from vine borers. I will discuss dealing with vine borers in another pots.


What is the biggest pest in your garden?


 

4 comments:

  1. I hear a lot about those blasted squash bugs. When I hear people wondering how to get rid of them, I'm sending them right to you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks! Hopefully this will ease some frustration.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I've heard a lot about squash bugs, but they weren't what destroyed my crop last year. It was vine borers, which seem to be even trickier than squash bugs. My poor pumpkins. :( Thanks for sharing this post--I've taken some notes! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hopefully today's post will help you. It's about vine borers. I have a heck of a time with them, too! http://www.songbird-gardens.com/2015/06/dealing-with-vine-borers-and-squash-bugs.html

    ReplyDelete

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