Vegetables and Fruit forum: Squash vine borers

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Jul 11, 2011 3:27 PM CST

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Alright, someone PLEASE tell me what to do about these squash vine borers. I planted about 80 pumpkin plants and I am now down to about 20 still alive. Every day we lose a couple plants to these devils. Is there a way to protect my plants?
Name: Claud
Water Valley, Ms (Zone 7b)
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saltmarsh
Jul 11, 2011 3:48 PM CST
This link has about the best advice I could give on squash borers. A bit tedious but doable on a garden scale. Until this year, I've always grown squash as early as possible, and have never lost a plant to the borer. This year I planted seed the first of July, so they may be a problem. Check the underside of leaves for groups of eggs and crush them with your fingers. Dead eggs can't hatch.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_vine_borer

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Patti1957
Jul 11, 2011 4:01 PM CST
Here is a link that I found helpful:

https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/squash_pest.pdf


Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jul 11, 2011 5:06 PM CST

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It doesn't sound like there's an easy solution to this. I don't like the idea of floating row covers and I'm certainly not going to spray anything.

I wonder if there are any predators that can be encouraged.
Name: Melissa
Southwestern Ohio (Zone 6b)
Charter ATP Member Daylilies Hummingbirder Irises Raises cows Region: Ohio
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Melissa
Jul 11, 2011 5:51 PM CST
This article suggests beneficial Nematodes injected into the vine, but doesn't say what those are. It also suggests to slit the vine with a razor as soon as you see a hole, and get the caterpillar out, then cover the vine back up.

also this is interesting, but would be time consuming on a large scale. "Or just wipe the stems every five days vigorously with a damp cloth and wipe away the eggs. An Auburn University researcher found this tip in a farming book from the 1890’s, when even now-ancient remedies like BT were still half a century in the future! Wiping with BTK or insecticidal soap should be even better. "

http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=804

here's a pdf that suggests the slitting of vines too, but also mentions placing a board for them to congregate on, then squishing.

"A method in use to control squash vine
borer is syringe injection of the bacterial
insecticide Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) into
each vine by hand. In home gardens or
small market gardens, growers often try
to control squash bugs by hand picking
or placing wooden boards near the plants,
where squash bugs will congregate for hand
collection and disposal. For squash vine
borer, small growers are advised to slit
each vine showing frass (the insect excrement)
and extract the larva before the vine
is irreparably damaged. Such methods
are not suitable for commercial production
of three or four acres because of the hand
labor involved."

https://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/squash_pest.pdf

Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Jul 11, 2011 9:42 PM CST
dave said:I wonder if there are any predators that can be encouraged.


Well, deer work - they eat the plants and then you don't notice the squash borer damage!

Whistling
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Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
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Horseshoe
Jul 12, 2011 8:22 AM CST
"I wonder if there are any predators that can be encouraged."

Birds and toads are your best bet. I'm blessed that I don't have squash vine borers to deal with. Plenty of squash bugs here but no borers in my garden(s). A lot of my customers have the borers though and for those that plant early I recommend row covers (and yes, I saw you don't like using them, Dave, but Wait! There's more!...) (love that cliff-hanger! *grin)....

Around here I watch for the chicory to start blooming. If you have it in Texas keep an eye out. When the chicory flowers the adults are out of the soil and flying around, looking for suitable egg laying areas, your squash or pumpkins. Those that want to use row covers should keep the plants covered for a few weeks until the flowers come on, then pull the covers off so they can get pollinated. If you like, and have a small garden you can replace the covers if you've seen plenty of bee activity. If you have time and patience you can hand pollinate and replace the covers.

Dave, if you're doing a huge field of pumpkins there is no way to row cover it. I have no idea how long your growing season is but folks here have done well planting a later crop, July-ish or so. By then the adults have quit laying and your later crop will mature fairly bug-less.

If you're growing squash then you might want to stay with the solid stemmed types until you get the SVB population down (may take a couple or 3 years). Butternuts and most melons are the least affected by them since they don't have hollow stems.

For those of you willing to dust or spray, Rotenone is considered "organic" but I encourage folks to not use it due to research showing it has a role in contributing to Parkinson's Disease symptoms in humans and is also a "bazooka" in the garden, killing many beneficial bugs, the last thing you want.

Oh yeh, birds! I have an abundance of birds here, having always encouraged them by leaving plenty of natural weeds/flowers/shrubs/trees etc. My bean trellis posts are cut so they have "perches" on them; it's a great treat to see bluebirds, wrens, etc, in the garden, swooping down and grabbing a bug and carrying it off. Bluebird will even snatch bugs out of the air (think adult SVB moth). As for on-the-ground patrol, toads are the go-to creatures for that.

Shoe (once again getting entirely to long-winded)

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Patti1957
Jul 12, 2011 8:27 AM CST
That was great info Shoe! What do you do to control the squash bugs? I have plenty of them also Big Grin


Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jul 12, 2011 8:35 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Thanks Shoe, that's really helpful.

I'm currently growing squash along with cowpeas and corn in about 2/5 of an acre. It's a pretty good size and definitely too much to cover.

Moreover, covering the pumpkins -and- the corn just isn't really a solution for me.

What you said about birds is really encouraging to me. We have a lot of birds around here, especially bluebirds, but not so much in the area of the garden. I should make some structures for the birds to perch.

Thanks again - you've encouraged me.
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
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Trish
Jul 12, 2011 8:54 AM CST

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We've never seen anything like this before. It isn't a "problem", it's a plague!
Last year we only dealt with the squash bugs, and contrary to what we read, they will indeed happily eat watermelon and cucumbers as well as the squash. I heard to dust with whole wheat flour, and this year we are doing much much better with the bugs. They are still a major pest, but not a plague.

Now it is the SVB. Again, contrary to what we've read, these little devils (as Dave called them) are happy to eat right through our butternut squash. Also, despite these plants being set out the last week in June, they are still being devastated.

Fortunately, we still have enough time to try again for the season. It does make me wonder why this old cow pasture that hasn't had anything else ever grown on it has been plagued so badly.
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Garden Sages I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
For our friend, Shoe. Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds Permaculture Container Gardener
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Horseshoe
Jul 12, 2011 9:14 AM CST
"Last year we only dealt with the squash bugs, and contrary to what we read, they will indeed happily eat watermelon and cucumbers as well as the squash. "

ditto, Trish. Squash bugs are my nemesis. I end up growing squash early on and harvest until I no longer win the war. Some years I won't plant any more; This year I'm going to set some more squash plants out in 3 weeks, hoping for a later harvest..

Patti, regarding squash bugs, when I used to grow squash for mkt I took the time to spray Safer's Soap mixed with a bit of alcohol in the water. It really helped for a while. Should you go this route you'll have better success (and great fun!) going down your squash rows with a water hose/wand, wetting the plants down from the base on up. The squash bugs hate being wet so they'll crawl to the top of the plant to dry themselves off in the sun. That's when you go back with your sprayer and solution and zap them! You'll have to hit them pretty hard with the solution. Some will die, others will faint. I suppose you could also pick them off into a bucket of soapy water, too.

I've used mint tea as a repellent...I wonder if spraying it on pumpkins/squash would freak out the SVB adult, making her think the plants were mint. Maybe it'll work on the squash bugs, too, eh? :>)

Dave, corn and cowpeas...at least the SVB/squash bugs won't mess with those. (Now you need to go buy that sheller I was telling Trish about!)

Shoe

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Patti1957
Jul 12, 2011 9:15 AM CST
Running outside to dust squash with wheat flour! Thanks Trish I tip my hat to you.

I like new tricks that are handy right here at home and no chemicals! I swear I will try most anything before I will spray with something that can kill every bug out there not just the bad guys. Someone could tell me to stand on one foot next to the squash plant for an hour a day and the bugs would go away and I would probably try it just in case it might work Hilarious! Well, I would most likely get my 8 year old grandson to do it because I don't know if I could stand on one foot for an hour! Whistling



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Patti1957
Jul 12, 2011 9:22 AM CST
Cross posted with you Shoe.

If I can't get them under control with the wheat flour I will give the Safer Soap and alcohol mixture a go. I don't have many squash plants and they seem to be confined to them but if they go after my cucumbers all bets are off Sticking tongue out


Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jul 12, 2011 9:28 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

The whole wheat flower definitely made a difference against the squash bugs. Having seen the success Trish had, I am a firm believer in that solution. It should be recently ground whole wheat flower, though. None of that white stuff.

Shoe, I'm thinking at this point I just need to focus on non-cucurbits in the garden, but I just love winter squash and pumpkins so much!! Sad
Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Jul 12, 2011 9:36 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Patti- the flour only works on the baby bugs, though. When they are still soft bodied. I still squish the adults that I see, and scrape the eggs off to keep them at bay. I feel like this year we drastically reduced our numbers and if I keep on top of it, we'll be ok. Just wanted to warn you that it wouldn't kill them adults.

Shoe- I hear you with the war. That's what the farmers here do- work with them until they just give up, but getting a fair harvest in the meanwhile.
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.

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Patti1957
Jul 12, 2011 9:57 AM CST
Dave, lucky for me I only live 6 miles from one of the last original operating water-powered grist mills in the west. I get ground wheat flour and other grains as fresh as can be. It is one of my favorite places to shop.

http://www.buttecreekmill.com/

Trish, I will keep after the adults/eggs and flour the little ones, hoping to keep them under control. They were a real problem last year. I have been keeping up with them so far this year but you know how quickly things can get out of control.


[Last edited by Patti1957 - Jul 12, 2011 10:10 AM (+)]
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Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Jul 12, 2011 10:12 AM CST

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Patti- I'm jealous !!
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.

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Patti1957
Jul 12, 2011 10:27 AM CST
Even though they would never say so, I think my family and friends like to visit me more often because of the Mill... And I'm okay with that Thumbs up


Name: Trish
Jacksonville, TX (Zone 8a)
I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Roses Herbs Vegetable Grower
Composter Canning and food preservation Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Organic Gardener Forum moderator Hummingbirder
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Trish
Jul 12, 2011 10:41 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Whistling

Big Grin
NGA COO, Wife, Mom, and caretaker of 90 acres and all that dwell there.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
And in the end...a happy beginning!
Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the Garden Planting Calendar Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle Garden Sages I sent a postcard to Randy! I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
For our friend, Shoe. Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Enjoys or suffers cold winters Birds Permaculture Container Gardener
Image
Horseshoe
Jul 12, 2011 11:35 AM CST
Dave, you and those squash and pumpkins. I remember some years ago you highly recommended a huge squash, delicious tasting. I immediately got some seeds but the squash bugs got my squash. I think it might've been jarradale or something like that.(?) The pic you posted made me HAVE to have it.

I've used rye flour on my tater bugs! And like Trish says, it only worked on the soft-bodied stage. 'Tis great fun though, apparently they ingest the flour then it mixes with their body fluids and expands, POP! Pull up a yard chair, grab your beverage of choice, and listen to the sound of tater bugs popping! Kinda like some of my neighbors that sit on the porch and night and listen to their bug zapper light thingy, Bzzzzt! "Wow, Cletus, that there'n was a biggun!" :>)

Shoe (tomato sammich time)

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