Garden Update 7/24 ~ How to deal with squash bugs

Pluses and minuses in my garden this week ~ Despite no rain, the weeds continue to grow. And so does my kale. I’m guessing that in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse, kale will come in very handy because it seems to grow no matter what!! Good thing I like it. Too bad no one else in the family seems to!

And the squash bugs have arrived in full force. I’m going to tell you in no uncertain terms how I feel about squash bugs. I HATE them! They are nasty, ugly, vile, and disgusting creatures. I dislike them more than tomato horn worms {which is saying something}. Squash bugs make my skin crawl…Best I can tell, they have no redeeming social features to make them useful in any way whatsoever, so I love devising horrible torture plans for them! And keep reading, because I’m sharing those plans with you!

But first, a look at the squash bug.

That, my friends, is an adult squash bug. Have you seen them? These blasted bugs are killing my yellow squash, zucchini, and pumpkins. If they would stay on the yellow squash, we might be at peace. But I don’t like them killing my zucchini. Baby squash bugs are round and whitish. They’re usually clustered together for easy smooshing. I haven’t seen too many of them in my garden yet, but they’ve got to be there somewhere.

Normal squash bugs lay these egg clusters on the underneath side of cucurbit leaves. They love to kill pumpkins, squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. My squash bugs must be particularly stupid, though, because they are laying the eggs right on top of the leaves. I like that! Makes it easier to kill them. But they are still winning. They’ve already killed all of my zucchini and the yellow squash aren’t far behind.

So, how do you kill them? Here are my favorite torture devices:

1. Snip them in half with my garden shears. Despite being an organic gardner, I really don’t much like bugs. It took me hours to kill the first horn worm I found – and I only managed to do it by cutting off the leaf the nasty bugger was on and then hoeing the worm in half with my hoe {from a safe distance}. I’ve come a long way since that first guy I found in 2006, but I’d still rather not touch them with my own, bare fingers.

2. Drown them in a bucket of soapy water. {I fill my bucket with the leak from my garden hose! 😉 } Since I don’t like to touch them, I mostly reserve this method for the eggs.

3. Stomp them to death with my shoe. Squash bugs alone are reason enough to wear heavy Granny tennis shoes to the garden. But there are other reasons I prefer to wear tennis shoes and socks to my garden, too. Have you seen me wield a hoe? 😉

4. Smash the eggs. But this really grosses me out for some reason – see #1. I’m not sure why – but I prefer to cut the leaves off the plants that have the offending eggs on them and drop them in the soapy water, too.

5. Chemicals. Now I am an organic gardener so I don’t use products like Sevin – I might be tempted, though some days, except my Dad {an awesome know-it-all gardener} says that because squash bugs eat by sucking instead of chewing {and no, I don’t really understand that}, poisons won’t work on them. I have read that Neem Oil and Diatomaceous Earth can be effective, but I haven’t tried either of those methods yet, personally. I did buy a 50 lb bag of DE, though, so I’m prepared!!

And lest I leave you with a bad taste in your mouth about this post, here are a couple fun scenes from my garden!

A beautiful sunflower – perhaps the most beautiful sunflower I’ve ever grown {and in full disclosure, my son planted these}! I’m in love with sunflowers. Next year I’m planing many, many more!

My kids playing with the sprinkler in the weedy patch of my garden. I love seeing them have fun in my garden!

And last but not least:Bounty from my garden – my tomatoes are more loaded than I’ve seen them in a few years and are starting to turn red!! YUM! I harvested my main heads of broccoli several weeks ago, but the little side shooters are producing a good amount now. And check out that watermelon! I’ve never grown a watermelon before. Can’t wait to eat that one – shouldn’t be too much longer before it’s ready.

I can’t believe I only came up with 5 torture devices for squash bugs. Do you have any killing methods I’ve not mentioned?

UPDATE!! I caught baby squash bugs in action today and murdered a whole bunch of them.

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Comments

  1. I'm sure that you won't mind that I found your post to be quite humorous, although the bugs themselves and their destructive ways are clearly not. So good that you're able to have a sense of humor about them... We're growing sunflowers, too, but just the mammoth sunflower seed variety that we'll dry later so we can munch of seeds all winter long -- nummy! Visiting from the Tuesday Garden Party, Lisa
    • I've grown sunflowers every year for the last few years, but we've never eaten them - just fed them to the birds. Might have to look into that a little more! Glad you enjoyed the post, Lisa. :-)
  2. I pay my children 10 cents per cabbage moth and squash bug. It's a win-win situation, I don't have to touch the bugs and they get to earn a little money for the candy aisle:)
  3. Seriously. Bugs can be the bane of my existence. We've been using Neem oil with great success lately. Though I've got some less "gentle" options in my shed just in case. :-)
  4. okay, so we're only mostly organic and did try sevin. it didn't work. this is sad but, the only thing i've found that works is adam's flea and tick spray. i was ticked off (literally got a tick) and my squash was dying so i sprayed with the adam's. we live in a swamp. i mean really, an actual state recognized swamp. i only lost one yellow squash plant but, it was pretty much done anyway. just planted my second crop this weekend. so, where do i buy neem. we're in the deep south so we get to go around twice.
    • I got Neem Oil last year at our local greenhouse. I know you can order on Amazon, too:http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Safe-93179-Neem-16-Ounce/dp/B004QAWGIO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1343229486&sr=8-4&keywords=neem+oil
      • i found out my co-op has neem. (yes, we are in the RURAL deep south) how do i best use it on my squash. haven't bother my cucumbers. btw my garden isn't one big plot. i intersperse my vegatables among my flowers and roses. on the outside of my dog yard. the cyclone panels of the dog run are kind of in a maze to give my 8 pomeranians plenty of space to run and an odd shape to keep them interested. i have plenty of composted dog manure every spring lol
  5. I love your pics but what especially caught my eye is your pic of the watermelon. Do you see the funny / scary monster face ? Its the shade that creates it! Love how nature creates these things !
  6. Those little bugs can suck the life out of a squash plant in no time! I hate them! Like you I'm a cut in halfer for the big ones and squish the eggs and small ones. Last summer I read a post where they sucked them up with a shopvac! That's wild! However, I can see it because during moth season, I use a vacuum cleaner on the moths in the house.
  7. Thanks for the great information. I was just introduced to squash bugs this year since planting a huge garden. I wish I would have realized what was killing all of my plants a month ago, now it's almost hopeless unless I can recruit the family for some help. I have been using Simple Green at a ratio of 1:4 or 1:5 with water and it seems to be working pretty well and not hurting the plants if sprayed directly on the leaves. I am finding myself yelling things like, "Die, die, die!" when I turn over a leaf so your blog definitely made me smile. We've had almost 2 inches of rain in Wisconsin this morning so I'm praying the lower branches have lots of drowned bugs!
  8. Thanks for the great information. I was just introduced to squash bugs this year since planting a huge garden. I wish I would have realized what was killing all of my plants a month ago, now it's almost hopeless unless I can recruit the family for some help. I have been using Simple Green at a ratio of 1:4 or 1:5 with water and it seems to be working pretty well and not hurting the plants if sprayed directly on the leaves. I am finding myself yelling things like, "Die, die, die!" when I turn over a leaf, so your blog definitely made me smile. We've had almost 2 inches of rain in Wisconsin this morning so I'm praying the lower leaves have lots of drowned bugs!

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