Pumpkin Panic! - Knowledgebase Question

Oceanside, Ne
Question by PeterKuehn
June 12, 2007
Last year I had about 8 pumpkin plants that started out awesome. Huge leaves and lots of flowers. Before any pumpkins got established it appeared that ants were burrowing into the stem-work of the plants which eventually killed off the entire planting. This year I am going with only 2 plants which I can supervise more closely. Our property does have ant issues which I have been trying to keep contained.
Is there anything else I can do to protect my 2 pumpkin plants? I don't want to disappoint my 4 year old 2 years in a row. The kid wants Daddy to grow pumpkins!


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Answer from NGA
June 12, 2007

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I suspect that the ants were there because squash bugs attacked the vines, wounding them. Resulting damage weeps a sweet, sticky substance that ants find irresistable.

Squash bugs are secretive in habit. Both adults and nymphs are found clustered near the plant crown, beneath damaged leaves, under clods or in any protective groundcover. They all scamper quickly for cover when disturbed. Because of the protracted egglaying period, all life stages occur throughout the summer months.

Early detection of adult squash bugs is very important since they are difficult to kill and can cause considerable damage.

If only a few vines are involved, it is best to collect and destroy the bugs and crush their egg masses. Some people place pieces of board or shingles on the ground near the plants to concentrate the number of individuals in an accessible area. Plant remnants may be buried or burned at the end of the year. It is a good idea to select varieties of squash and pumpkin resistant to the squash bug. Since there is only one generation per year, damage can be greatly reduced by keeping vines covered until blossoming begins. Remove the cover for pollination purposes.

You can apply carbaryl (Sevin) according to label directions and safety precautions when bugs first appear. Rotenone is effective on younger bugs, but not the adults. Repeat applications as needed for best control.

Best wishes with your pumpkins!

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