“How do you get rid of squash bugs?” Question from Judy of Louisville, Mississippi
Answer: Surely these are some of the most annoying and destructive of all summer vegetable garden pests. To manage squash bugs (Anasa tristis), you need to understand their life cycle.
Squash Bug Life Cycle
These true bugs attack squash and relatives, like cucumbers, pumpkins, and zucchini. They spend their winters sheltering under garden debris, leaves, rocks, and logs. Sometimes they even enter homes for refuge. When spring weather warms, they seek out squash plants, mate, and lay eggs on developing squash plants. The clusters of brownish-orange eggs hatch in just 5 to 10 days. Bug nymphs emerge and develop into adult squash bugs that suck the juices from squash stems, leaves, flowers and developing fruits. Badly infested plants will show signs of wilt and have poor fruit output and development.
Squash Bug Management
The first thing you can do to protect your garden is to remove all infested plant material from your beds in fall. Good garden sanitation will destroy winter cover for these bugs, which will decrease their populations during the cold season. In spring, keep a lookout for their eggs. If you see any on leaves or stems, scrape them off immediately and smash them. Once you begin to see adults, remove them by hand or spray them with an OMRI Listed insecticidal spray approved for organic gardening, like insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil. [Click here to read more about using horticultural oils.]
It also pays to plant squash-bug-resistant varieties, which include most butternut varieties, ‘Early Summer Crookneck,’ ‘Improved Green Hubbard,’ ‘Royal Acorn‘, and ‘Zucchetta Tromboncino’.
I hope this helps! Happy gardening.
Black Gold Horticulturist