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?
*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?