Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Squash Bug Tea Anyone?


Can you find the Squash Bug in the photo?
 
 

Squash bugs (Anasa tristis) are probably the most destructive insect pest of squash and pumpkins in our area. They can also be a problem on cucumbers and melons. Squash Bugs hide under leaves and stems and may be hard to find. Sometimes they may even be low on the stem where it enters the soil.


 
Leave no leaf unturned to find them. Watering plants forces bugs up from their soil-stem feeding position. Squash bug eggs are small, brown, football shaped structures attached to leaf undersides. If you find’em squish’em.

 
Symptoms of squash bug infested plants include wilted leaves and / or plants and discolored leaves as well as dead or collapsing plants. Squash bugs are usually visible when watering as they emerge from the base of plants where the stem enters the soil.


 
Squash bugs damage plants by removing sap and causing leaves to wilt and collapse. Sap removal deprives the plant of needed nutrients and water. When a single plant is being fed upon by numerous squash bugs plant wilt, collapse, and death can occur very quickly.

Here are a couple chemical free methods for squash bug control……

 

Mechanical control is done by physically removing and killing them. When watering, squash bugs will emerge from their hiding places and can be caught and squished. Squished squash bugs have a foul smell. Also, look for their masses of shiny brown eggs on the underside of leaves. Smash the eggs when you find them.
Squash Bug Tea:  One of our nursery clients told us that his great aunt treats her plants with a squash bug tea. He stated she always has beautiful squash plants free of bugs. He explained that she will capture a few squash bugs, place them in a small glass jar, seal the lid, and set the jar in full sun until the bugs are dead. She then will use them to make a squash bug tea similar to the way one makes sun tea. The squash bug tea is then placed into a spray bottle and used to thoroughly wet the plants. This procedure is repeated at regular intervals during the growing season.

The nursery staff would love to hear of your success using squash bug tea or any control method you know so that we may share with all who grow and love squash!

Photos & Narrative By:
Stephen Sain
Staff Plant Physiologist

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