The Q&A Archives: Infestation of pumpkin plants

Question: My pumpkin plants have been attacked by grey bugs the size of a fingernail. Their bak end is kind of triangular in nature. They are destroying my plants. Insecticide soap doesn't seem to faze them. I am trying not to use pesticides. Any ideas?

Answer: What you describe sound like squash bugs. If only a few plants are affected, it is most effective to hand pick and destroy squash bugs and eggs. Another option is to place boards or shingles on the ground next to the plants. At night the squash bugs will aggregate under the boards and can then be destroyed each morning. Using resistant varieties such as Butternut, Royal Acorn, or Sweet Cheese and maintaining a healthy plant through proper fertilization and watering are also important to limiting squash bug damage. It is also necessary to remove debris in and around the garden area that could possibly be used as shelter by the bugs. As stated above, by removing debris from the area, overwintering sites for the adults are reduced. Sevin is one of the few insecticides available to home gardeners, but it is not considered organic.

There are few if any effective organic control options for squash bug. However, natural enemies of the squash bug include Tachinid fly, Trishopoda pennipes and Sceleonids, Eumicrosoma spp. These biological control options may prove useful if you purchase and release them in your garden. Sabadilla may provide some control and is organic certified.

Best wishes with your pumpkin plants!

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