The Q&A Archives: squash bugs

Question: Squash bugs are sucking the life out of my zucchini and now have invaded my cucurbits-especially the cantaloupes. I pick them off by hand daily but they are getting ahead of me. Any chemical control available? I don't want to use carbaryl as that will kill the bees. How about Spectracide Malathion that I saw at my local Home Depot?

Answer: Yes, squash bugs will damage other cucurbits. These bugs like to hide in leaf litter or under boards, stones, etc. at night. Since they overwinter under garden debris, and there is only one generation per year, it is possible to reduce their population with diligence early in the season. You can place boards around plants, then go out early in the morning to kill any bugs hiding underneath. Also, search for and squish their shiny yellow to reddish eggs (on the undersides of the leaves), as well as any nymphs you find. Pull mulch away from the base of plants too, to eliminate hiding places. As soon as you see some bugs, try applying rotenone or sabadilla dust to the plants. These are organic pesticides. Spectracide is labelled for use in veggie gardens if you'd rather go that route. Hope you get control of those pesky bugs!

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