Answer: We don't experience many real insect problems in the low desert so I don't recommend using any pesticide regularly as a "preventive" measure, the way we would apply fertilizer regularly. Pests tend to target stressed, unhealthy plants, and since it sounds like you will be feeding and monitoring your plants, they may be just fine without it. Here are two squash pests to look for:
Squash bugs are about 1/2" long, brown or grey, and shaped a bit like a shield. They suck the juices out of leaves and stems. They feed in groups. To control them, find their masses of reddish-brown eggs on the underside of leaves and squash them. Rotate crops every planting season and clean up plant debris, where the bugs can overwinter.
SQUASH VINE BORER
The squash vine borer affects vining crops. Adult moths lay eggs on stems near the plant base. After the eggs hatch, white caterpillars with brown heads tunnel into the stems to eat. They cause vines to wilt, even though they are well-watered, and eventually the plant will die. Look for entry holes and sawdust-like droppings at the base of the plants. Slit the stem lengthwise from the hole toward the tip of the vine and remove the caterpillar. Cover the stem with soil and it will reroot. To prevent them, in early summer, cover the plants with a floating row cover until flowers appear, which helps stop the moths from laying eggs. Good luck with your summer garden!
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