~How To Kill Squash Bugs, Squash Bug Eggs, and Nymphs~

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Most of us who are growing a garden right now can commiserate with one another over persistent problem of squash bugs (otherwise known as leaf-footed beetles or stink bugs) ravaging our summer squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, and winter squash.

Until now, we’ve been doing one on one battle with the adults. And it’s not an easy battle to win. For the gardener growing organically, rather naturally (not wanting to use even organic pesticides to upset the natural balance of the soil or inadvertently harm the beneficial insect population) this means lots of picking and squishing or drowning of the adults.

But the tables are about to turn and our problem is about to grow exponentially because it’s hatching season.

The few wily ones that have outwitted us have been laying their beautiful, jewel-like, golden or ruby eggs on the underside of the host plants leaves and they are getting ready to hatch. In fact, where yesterday there were none, today I found several batches had hatched.

{Eggs & Nymphs}

Last year, I picked the eggs off with fingernails, getting the eggs stuck under there and often tearing the leaves in the process. My plan for this year was to be on the look out for the soft-bodied nymphs and squish them as they hatched.

But this morning while chopping potatoes for frying to serve with some scrambled eggs, I finished up listening to a Farm Dreams podcast I had started and Liz mentioned that her method of organic control is managing the eggs with a roll of duct tape.

I dropped my oily spoon and ran for the barn, grabbed the duct tape, and headed to the garden where I experienced for myself the genius of this idea.

I’ve saved my plants this morning from literally hundreds of these little monsters and myself from hours of picking! It was truly shocking- and the ones on the pumpkins in with the corn… I would never have found all of those nymphs. Not in a million years. I feel like I may have stopped this cycle dead in its tracks with less than an hour’s work.
A few things to note:
-It is trickier to get the eggs when they have been laid in a corner of the large veins, so I got what I could and the few remaining I picked off with a fingernail.
-Be gentle. Some of the pumpkins had soft leaves and a bit of the leaf came off with the eggs. Not much and not often.
-If you see a squash beetle adult, nab her! I tapped the tape to her back and she was stuck. I folded the tape piece around her and she wasn’t going anywhere.
-Ditto for the cucumber beetles. If you happen to see one of them, tap it on their back. I think that’s the quickest way I’ve dealt with those guys so far.

Continue your education and check out these great gardening resources!

{Adults}

Until now, the most successful way that I’ve managed our infestation was to mist down the plants with a little peppermint oil diluted in a sprayer of water. It acts more of a temporary repellent and you have to do it frequently to give your plants a fighting chance.
But this weekend,  On The Old Path shared on her Facebook page a link showing how to kill the squash bugs (and perhaps the cucumber beetles) dead on the spot using a biodegradable detergent dish soap. The soap works by suffocating the beetle within moments. It worked wonderfully for the squash bugs, not so much for the cucumber beetles,  but that’s ok because I prefer to remove the beetle from the plant before spraying it to make certain that the plant isn’t affected in any way and cucumber beetles will fly before allowing that to happen.
One word of warning with both of those methods, I have had plants suspiciously turn grey, wilt, and die the day after spraying. What was odd was that while one was affected, the other plants weren’t. Another reason to remove the adults before spraying with dish soap.

The most successful way the Lord has been managing our infestation is by means of spiders (the garden is full of them!), toads, and frogs!!

Of the 4 acorn squash that sprouted, 2 have survived until yesterday from the destruction of these pests. One I was having to manage with sprays until it was discovered grey & wilted this morning which leaves us with just one.

And it was under that one large beautiful acorn squash plant that I found a toad the size of a baseball! He was getting fat on all these beetles!

Then yesterday while searching for cucumbers who should I see peeking at me from the middle of the trellis, but a bullfrog. How glad I am that we put in the pond which encouraged their breeding and next time one of the kids brings me a toad discovery, I’ll be having them tuck him under the hay mulch next to a zucchini plant!

I feel that with a little diligence, my squash plants just may have a fighting chance this year! And I hope that yours will now too!

How is your squash beetle war going ?

Cheap, easy, AND organic! This is the best way to kill squash bugs! | www.reformationacres.com

 

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  • Karley

    THIS! YES! Thank you! Of course, duct tape.

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      I know, right?! Duct tape. It fixes EVERYTHING! ;)

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  • KarenJ

    Are the squash plants dying from squash vine borer? They always nail my plants….Also powdery mildew….

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      We had the sv borer one year. (Actually, the first pest I remember). We haven’t had them since- I burned the plants as soon as I diagnosed the issue and then practiced crop rotation & they’ve never been back :)

      • Linore Burkard

        I’ve been shaking the bugs into a cup of vinegar, which kills them. But I haven’t seen them in large numbers. I’m going to check my squash leaves tomorrow with duct tape on hand just in case. Thanks! (Love the title of your blog.)

        • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

          Thanks Linore! :) Hope the tape trick works for you!!

  • Tommy

    Well mine last year got so bad I was using a small shopvac and a brush attachment. They were everywhere. They went after mellons as well as all the squash plants.

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      This will be our first year growing melons, so I’ll have to keep an eye on them- thanks for the heads up! I love the shop vac idea- I just started using one a week or two ago to get those nasty asparagus beetles eating up and laying eggs all over our spears. So much nicer than trying to catch & squish them before they fall to the ground and hide! I’m seeing a huge reduction in the numbers out their every day!

  • Melissa @ Bless this Mess

    Squash bugs are the bane of my garden! So excited to try this this year :) Thanks girl!

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      You’re welcome Melissa! Hope it works well for you. (Which is silly to say because I know it will :) )

  • sherry

    some times when my squash plants have just wilted and dies it is a squash vine bore that was the culprit

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  • http://www.littlebigharvest.blogspot.com Andrea @Little Big Harvest

    Yay for frog helpers! And the duct tape idea? BRILLIANT. :)

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  • Jody

    I used Elmer’s glue to seal the eggs to the leaves..so far it seems to have worked

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      That might be a great idea! Hope it works for you :) (And that I have no reason at all to experiment with it this year ;) so far, so good!)

  • Marci

    Thanks Quinn for passing this on!!

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  • teri snowden

    I use dawn dish soap in a squirt bottle. even used it on my cabbage

  • kimberly

    I collect up the bugs and toss them in a recycled peanut butter jar in the freezer. In the winter I feed them to my chickens as a high protein treat.

  • mell1201

    Great information. Thank you so much for your great advice.

  • Linda Thomson

    The duct tape is a fabulous idea! The squash bugs got all the decorative pumpkins my husband planted but that wasn’t a big loss. They then started on the yellow squash and killed all but 1 plant. Now they are after the zucchini! I tried the soap spray with a little success and I tried the onion and garlic infused water but I guess we were too late. Got to grab my duct tape now…… bye.

  • Jaimee

    I’m new to gardening and had just seen some strange looking bugs getting it on the other day and I didn’t think much about it till I read your post. I ran out to check my squash and sure enough, there were eggs all over. So I ran back to the garage and found the duct tape! Thank you!

  • Jers

    I found hundreds of Squash Bugs and an equally large number of eggs in my squash patch, which contains Butternut, Acorn, and Pumpkin. They seemed to gravitate towards the Acorn, not sure if thats what they prefer, or if its simply where the infestation originated.

    Flicking the bugs into soapy water was simply impossible for the amount of bugs I found, so instead I used a Shopvac. It was easier to get the bugs on the ground, completely organic and much, much quicker.

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      I love using the Shopvac on bugs! :) It worked great especially on the asparagus beetles who are little stinkers and drop to the ground before you can catch them. We would just pop the nozzle right over the spears. I actually think we might have got them before they laid any eggs this year! Yea!!

  • http://thecraftyprepper.com TheCraftyPrepper

    Ugh, the squash bugs! This is my 2nd year gardening, and my 2nd year fighting those evil little creatures! Thank you for this post, I will definitely try the duct tape. Also, the comments mentioning using a shop vac are brilliant! I’ve been so discouraged, and I am now encouraged. Yay! :)

    One thing I have had some luck with is a dust called diatomaceous earth.
    I try to use it sparingly but it has made me feel like I have a chance against the little monsters. I know you probably do not want to use this, but it has helped us some. Here’s to winning the squash bug battle!

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      If your’e diligent with the tape during the egg laying part, you can totally beat these little buggers! Right now you’re finding what a handful on each plant? Think about how many all those eggs would turn into that you’re getting rid of and removing away from the food source!! Once you get all those eggs removed, your work will be virtually done for the season. This is SO easy & really WORKS!! :D

  • http://thecraftyprepper.com TheCraftyPrepper

    I also have read planting nasturtium around your squash can help control the squash bugs. We did try that this year but, unfortunately, the nasturtium bloomed too late and they are only just now blooming. so next year we will plant them earlier.

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      I’m on my 3rd year of trying to grow nasturtiums. I know I can do it, but it didn’t happen this year again. Perhaps the timing is off and the tomato seedlings need too much attention that the nasturtiums get neglected? Hopefully next year will be the year for BOTH of us :)

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  • Becki

    I had good success with sprinkling Cayenne pepper powder on the stems all around the plant. (used the 90k HU) it lasts for a week or two unless it rains. It does burn the tops of the leaves but a little here and there didn’t hurt except for it being ugly.

    • http://www.reformationacres.com/ Quinn

      Thanks Becki! Sounds like a great tip especially since it could last so long- nice!! :)