The Q&A Archives: Squash Leaves Being Eaten

Question: Several days ago the leaves on some of my squash plants began to be eaten away. What is causing this and what can I do to prevent it?

Answer: Before we can recommend a solution, we need to figure out who the culprit is! Check your plants carefully, including the underside of the leaves. If they're eating that much, they should be noticeable. Here's a couple potential culprits: the spotted cucumber beetle (1/4 inch long, yellow w/black stripes or spots) is a common and voracious pest of the squash, melon and cuke family of crops. They not only eat plants, they can transmit diseases among them, too! Your first line of defense is to cover the seedlings with floating row cover while they're small and young - when they're most succeptible to damage and disease. When the plants outgrow the cover, if the adults beetles are a problem, you can use a botanical spray such as pyrethrin. I've also heard of organic gardeners who had luck using oil of clove as a repellent. Dab a couple drops on cotton balls and place them throughout the plot, and the beetles stay away.

Squash bugs are about 1/2" long, brown or grey. They suck the juices out of leaves and stems. They feed in groups. To control them, find their masses of eggs on the underside of leaves and squash them. Rotate crops every planting season and clean up plant debris, where the bugs can overwinter. I hope this information helps!

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