If you stay up late at night thinking of how you can squash bothersome squash bugs, you are not alone. These garden gremlins have tortured many a gardener. They love eating all varieties of squash and also chow down on pumpkins. If you plant anything that belongs to the cucurbit family you’ll need to learn how to get rid of squash bugs.
These bugs do damage to plants by sucking the sap out of them. It causes leaves to wilt and become brittle. When squash bugs attack young plants they may die, and the wilting of the leaves looks like the bacterial wilt that cucumber beetles cause.
Are you familiar with stink bugs (learn how to get rid of stink bugs in the garden)? These insects get their name because they put off a very foul odor when they are killed. Squash bugs do as well. This is why they are often misidentified as stink bugs. They also look a little bit like their stinkier insect brethren.
As opposed to other common garden pests, squash bugs are relatively long. They can grow to more than a half-inch in length and sport a gray or brown, flat body. Squash bugs have long legs compared to their body size and even though they can fly, they will usually just parade all over your plants. Because of those long legs and the ability to fly, they can move quickly when they see you coming.
7 Ways To Get Rid Of Squash Bugs
1. Clean up your garden area
Squash bugs spend the winters hiding away in refuse. If you have any boards lying around, this looks like the perfect winter home to a squash bug. Piles of dead leaves or vines could be home to squash bugs, and if you have a building near your garden, these pests could take up residence there.
Keep the area around your garden clean of debris, piles of trash, and piles of wood, and you could free your garden of squash bugs in just one season.
2. The earlier you spot an infection the better
Just like treating any human illness, early detection is best. This means if you catch squash bugs when they are young you can get rid of them before they turn into adults and breed. Also, adult squash bugs are harder to kill than babies.
One way to get these annoying bugs out of your garden is to search for eggs twice a day. Each morning and evening, check your squash for masses of eggs. You can pull off these egg masses and dispose of them. You can also just knock the eggs to the ground where they will either die, or beetles will eat them.
The easiest way to remove the squash bug eggs is with a wet butter knife, and drop them in a cut of water with a drop of liquid soap. It’s important to wet the knife before removing each bunch of eggs because they’ll stick to the knife and make it easier. Otherwise, the eggs will just roll down the leaves (they probably still won’t survive, but why take a chance?)
3. Give squash bugs a hideout
Right before sundown, head to your garden with some wooden boards or shingles. You are going to give squash bugs what they think is a perfect hiding place. Lay boards down between the rows of your squash. At night both the young and old gather underneath the boards for protection. You can easily dispose of these bugs in the morning.
4. Plant marigolds and other insect repellent plants
Marigolds are well known for repelling lots of insects, including squash bugs. Make sure to plant some around your zucchini and squash, and enjoy not only healthy veggies but beautiful flowers that attract pollinators too.
Other plants that keep these bugs away are dill, oregano, and nasturtium.
5. Make a natural spray
Spray plants infected by the squash bug with one of these natural concoctions you can make in your own kitchen.
Neem oil spray
- 1 tablespoon Neem oil
- 1 gallon water
- a squirt of dish soap
Mix it all in a gallon-sized sprayer and use it on your plants either early in the morning, or later in the afternoon. Never use it during the hot sun, or it will damage your plants.
Soapy water spray
- 1 teaspoon Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap
- 1 quart of water
Spray your squash plats, especially the underside. this easy spray will kill nymphs on contact.
6. Use duct tape
This method works really well. Wrap your hand in duct tape and go to work. The bugs, as well as their eggs, stick to the tape easily without damaging the plants. Do this a few days in a row and you’ll ditch the squash bugs for the season.
7. Be relentless
Learning how to get rid of bugs in your squash garden means never giving up. If you check your plants in the spring daily, you could get a head-start on these pests. This means eventually collecting and destroying them quicker than they can reproduce.
Some varieties of squash are more resistant than other choices. Your local gardening pro can tell you what types of squash to plant so your veggies look the most unappealing to insects. Frequent crop rotation keeps bugs confused and may be all you need to do to keep squash bugs on the run.
How do YOU get rid of squash bugs in your garden?