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Super Green Thumb
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organic squash bug control

We talk about this a lot, but I don't think we have it collected in one place. I am talking about squash bugs, the ones related to stinkbugs, not squash vine borers, which is a separate topic.

I got motivated to do this because I saw a blog post where someone recommended using duct tape to peel the eggs and nymphs off the squash leaves, by sticking them to the tape. Has anyone tried this?

Other remedies:
*diatomaceous earth
*row covers IF you get them on before any eggs are laid on your plants
*traps as with slugs, you can lay a board flat on your soil. The bugs will come and hide under it. Lift it up in the heat of the day and you may find them congregated under there, ready to be gathered up OR night time trap (I have only used this for stink bugs in the house, but it should work in the garden as well) Set up a light shining right into a clear glass bowl full of soapy water, so the water glows. The bugs are attracted to light and will come and drown themselves in the water
*handpicking. works best early in the day, while they are still slowed down. Watering the crown of the plant thoroughly brings the bugs up to the top where they can be seen and picked more easily
*suck them up with a hand vacuum like Dirt Devil (don't use it in your house after that!)
*Neem oil - Neem oil works against most leaf eaters. Squash bugs are juice-suckers, not leaf eaters, so it doesn't seem that Neem should work against them, but some people claim that it does. What are your experiences with it?
*Trap crops Grow a variety of squash just for the bugs that they prefer, like Blue Hubbard, as a trap crop. When they congregate on it, you can gather them up easier. I have seen millet listed as a trap crop for squash bugs. Since they usually only like cucurbits, I don't see why it would be, but might be worth trying to see what happens.
*Predators Ground beetles are predators of squash bug eggs and damsel bugs are predators of the nymphs. There is a tachnid fly that parasitizes them. So making your garden friendly to these creatures helps at least to keep the squash bugs from becoming an infestation. Praying mantis is a predator of the nymphs. Nothing much likes to eat the adults (hard, crunchy, and nasty tasting and smelling), but birds and toads may eat the nymphs. Some lizards may eat them. We have lots of five-lined skinks around, which eat some beetles and crickets, but I don't know if they would eat the squash bugs or not.

what does not work:
soapy water spray
garlic pepper spray - I have sprayed a pretty concentrated version of hot pepper/garlic spray directly on them and it didn't seem to bother them

This is about organic solutions, so we aren't talking about poisons, but I just thought I would mention under what does not work-- most poisons. Squash bugs have high levels of resistance to poisons used in gardens and squash bug populations (as opposed to individuals) readily develop more.

What else do you know about what does or does not work against squash bugs in your garden?
Last edited by rainbowgardener on Thu Jun 02, 2016 1:26 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: organic squash bug control

I don't have a lot of beetles or bugs, I think the geckos and anoles are eating them.
Row covers unfortunately hold in too much heat in the tropics. so they don't work well in summer. However, mosquito netting does work.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Location: Upstate, SC

Re: organic squash bug control

Guinea Hens are said to love them!

I use neem oil. They have to pierce through the oil to get to the juices, and I think it does help.

What seems to be most effective, it handpicking. I tried to use duct tape, but these eggs are stuck firm. I roll them off into the soap water cup. I toss the adults in the soap cup too.

I have tried the boards, they didn't work for us. The adults like to hang out underneath the plants, so if you lift the plant up, there is usually one of more underneath there.

I have a method that works really well. I get the Resident Man to go ahead of me and spray the plants with neem. You have to really soak the plant, and down to the crown. You can use water, too. They then will climb to the top of the plant canopy, where they can be picked off very easily.

Think you don't have Squashbugs where you live in the south? Wet the plants down, and wait..!

Before I went organic, I would use sevins dust on them, and it DID NOT KILL THEM!

I sure would love to have Guinea Hens!
Upstate, SC
USDA Zone 7b/ Sunset Zone 31

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Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Re: organic squash bug control

I have been noticing that suddenly completely wilted cucumber leaf is a sign of squash bug, leaf-foots and stinkbug hatching/infeststion. I don't even inspect or unfold the wilted leaf any more -- just clip off, put on ground and grind into ground -bugs and all- with boot sole.

With the bigger squash leaves, the leaves don't always wilt, but severely yellowed leaf is a good bet -- turn over the leaf and I have found a bunch of just hatched nymphs and molted juvies. Depending on good/bad condition of the leaf, I might just thoroughly squish with hands on top and bottom of the leaf, or clip off and trample.

It makes it easier to control them that they like to stay and feed together in the early stages :twisted:
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Greener Thumb
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Location: Brownville, Ne

Re: organic squash bug control

One thing not mentioned is general garden sanitation. Prevention is also organic. Clean up before, during and after the gardening season will substantially reduce these pests. They love to overwinter in old leaves and other plant matter. Being out in the garden and looking under leaves of plants to find the eggs will also help reduce populations; hand picking works best for me. Squeamish folks can wear vinyl gloves to do the squashing. Getting them young is key.

Sad to say it but Sevin does work here on young bugs and sometimes I have had to revert to it but only in last resort in a heavy infestation year.
Paul F

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