The squash bug infestation has destroyed my Delicata squash. So nasty and so sad. I’ve asked what I can do about it now, looking to my experienced gardener and master gardener friends; the simplest suggestion was to spray the area with diatomaceous earth.
You may know that squash bugs or Anasa tristis, order Hemiptera, are common pests of squash, pumpkins and melons, all belonging to the cucurbit family. Cucumbers are also cucurbits, and it now seems likely that my difficulty with cucumbers this year was due to squash bugs. Yuck.
For those who don’t know me well, I have a little phobia going on regarding insects and especially bugs. Thanks to Lenora Larson for patiently explaining the difference! I’m learning to have a little more respect and a little less startle reflex to insects. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to bugs.
So, squash bugs. How to kill them? I attended a Miami County Extension Office class about pest management, presented by Raymond Cloyd, Ph.D. from Kansas State University. He talked about removing the eggs (too late for that), using oil sprays on the nymphs (too late for that) and – finally – using a vacuum to remove the squash bugs.
Really? I just don’t want bugs in my vacuum… An article on the K-State Extension site says this: “Squash bugs are not equally susceptible to insecticide treatments at all developmental stages.” And goes on to say that insecticides are most effective against earliest instar nymphs. The same article suggests a variety of insecticides timed correctly, although taking care not to harm other, beneficial insects like bees, is important.
To prevent another infestation next year, I’m going to plant something else in that bed, although I haven’t decided what quite yet. I’m open to suggestions.
I may try planting a trap crop of Delicata squash since the bugs seem to adore it. I have cantaloupe planted in the same bed and have seen nary a bug on any of the cantaloupe leaves or vines!
Meanwhile, I sprinkled some diatomaceous earth on the squash because first, I bought it and have it, and second, it can’t hurt. From my perspective, the squash bugs do not like diatomaceous earth and started churning around, trying to get away.
I really can’t think about bugs any more today. Thanks for reading!