The Q&A Archives: pumpkin pest

Question: Each year while my pumpkins are growing vigorously and setting fruit, a wasp-type of insect sucks the juices from the stem killing the plants. Can you identify this and tell me how to grow pumpkins in spite of them?

Answer: I think you are probably seeing damage from squash bugs. You can try patrolling and removing their orange colored eggs clustered in groups on the underside of the foliage, and for the gray colored nymphs which hatch in groups -- these can be squashed by hand. But prevention is easier. Each spring cover the planting in a garden fabric such as Reemay, being sure to secure the edges to exclude the pests. It may take two years for the exclusion to work because they overwinter in plant debris and the soil. Also be sure to clean up and remove all pumpkin and other cucurbit debris from your garden in the fall, and rotate your plantings so you do not plant cucurbits two years in a row in the same spot. When the plants flower you will need to remove the fabric to allow for pollination or else do this yourself by hand using a soft paint brush to dab from male to female blooms. I hope this helps.

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