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Controlling Squash Bugs the Organic Way

Squash Bugs in the Garden

In the South, the most common and destructive insects in the garden are anasa tristis also known as squash bugs. These leaf-footed squash bugs have a life expectancy of 75 to 130 days. Within that life period, they can lay anywhere from two to three batches of eggs with 18 to 20 eggs per batch. Once laid it can take between six to eight weeks for that egg to become a mature adult and start causing serious problems in the vegetable garden. These squash bugs can feed on your cucurbits such as squash, cucumbers, and melons. The affect the fruits by injecting toxic saliva into the crops and which causes them to become debilitating. Controlling the squash bugs early on will help decrease the population from becoming impossible to kill in the vegetable garden.

Controlling Squash Bugs

On this week's episode, Travis explains how to organically control the destructive squash bugs that are causing issues in the vegetable garden. When organically controlling squash bugs we like to use the IPM strategy which stands for Integrated Pest Management. This strategy involves both chemical and mechanical controls to decrease those squash bug pressures in the garden. For the chemical controls, we will start early in the plant life by using Neem Oil and pyrethrin like Take Down Garden Spray. An OMRI registered product, Neem Oil works great to control insects like aphids, beetles, whiteflies, and squash bugs. It also can be used to control fungal diseases like powdery mildew, black spot, and blight. Another organic product is Take Down Garden Spray contains natural pyrethrin and canola oil. This combination allows for quick knockdown and residual control. It can also help control aphids, caterpillars, whiteflies, ants, and other insects. When using Neem Oil and Take Down Garden Spray these organic products should be alternated every other week to decrease insects from becoming resistant to them in the vegetable garden. For the mechanical controls, you should go through the plants and remove as many of the eggs that you can find or see. The squash bugs typically lay their eggs on the underside of the squash leaves. When walking through your squash patch, once you flip over those leaves you will be able to see the small eggs laid underneath the leaves. The eggs are usually in clusters and have a copper color to them. You can not simply just brush these eggs off the plant and into the soil because they can still hatch in the soil. Travis likes to take a piece of duct tape and wrap it around his fingers with the sticky side up. Then he walks through his garden and simply pats those eggs with the duct tape and they will stick to the duct tape. He recommends going through the patch at least once every other day to look for eggs underneath the squash leaves and remove them when they are present. This should be done frequently because the eggs only take seven to eight days to hatch, so they should be removed from the garden before they hatch and start to cause serious problems. Once the squash bugs become fully mature and are in their adult stages they are nearly impossible to kill. These adult stages will overwinter then cause more problems in the vegetable garden if they are not killed. So when controlling squash bugs use the IPM (Integrated Pest Management) strategy such as organic chemicals like Neem Oil and Take Down Garden Spray to kill the eggs early on and avoid serious problems in the vegetable garden in the future.