The Q&A Archives: Causes for Hollow Stems in Vines

Question: My vine plants (squash, pumpkin,gourds,etc.) all start off fine, but after they start to run and develop vines they start to die off. When cut the vines open appear hollow. Could it be vine bores and if so how do I get rid of these pests? I try to use as few chemicals as possible. I caught the end of a TV show this past winter and I think they said something about (BT?) what is it and will it work for me? Bill Wright Auburn, NY

Answer: It could be squash vine borers eating your plants. If you see holes on the main stem near the soil line and "sawdust" like droppings, then chances are its the vine borer. This year put aluminum foil under the young plants and cover the plants with a floating row cover until the flowers begin to open. The foil confuses the adult fly so they can't lay the eggs and the row cover prevents them from finding the stem. After flowering remove the row cover and check a few times a week for the borers. Ifyou see the damage either cut them out with a razor and bury the stem or inject Bt into the stem to kill the larvae. If you're diligent, you'll save your squash plants.

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