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Best Squash Vine Borer Treatment – 7 Chemical-Free Options

There’s nothing more disappointing than going to pick a yummy squash and instead, finding your squash plants in distress, destroyed by some unwelcome bug. But don’t worry: today we’re looking at ways to prevent and/or get rid of these nasty little creatures. See which of these 5 suggestions might make the best natural squash vine borer treatment for your garden!

squash vine borer larva

Squash Vine Borer Symptoms

Does this sound familiar? You go to check on the progress of your squash plants, and here’s what you see:

a wilted zucchini plant

  • You notice some leaves are dying and plant stems have holes in them.
  • It looks like orange-colored sawdust is coming out of the holes.
  • Overall, the plants just don’t look right. What’s going on?

These are telltale signs that you have a squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae) problem.

If you wonder what the adult squash vine borer is, here is what the adult moth looks like.

Using synthetic pesticides can harm your plants. They may make curious kids and pets sick. Those chemical poisons eventually leak down into the soil.

Many responsible gardeners like you and me turn to a natural squash vine borer treatment instead of chemicals for these reasons. Here are a few pesticide-free solutions to your problem.

Natural Squash Vine Borer Treatments

#1 – Cover stems (with mulch or foil)

Cover squash stems with mulch. Wherever the stem wanders, give it a mulch blanket. This makes it hard for the adult vine borer moth to lay eggs on the stems.

Or, you can wrap the bottom of the stem with aluminum foil with the same results.

#2 – Remove eggs by hand

Squash vine borer eggs are tiny, round, glossy, and copper-colored. They are usually laid one at a time and placed singularly. Any clusters will be loosely grouped.

Eggs are laid on leaf stems (towards the bottom); if you see groupings of tiny eggs on top of the leaves or on the underside, those are squash bug eggs (here’s how to get rid of squash bugs).

To get rid of the eggs, if you find them on time, drop them into a container of soapy water or squash them.

#3 – Use an Organic Bacterial Spray

Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 ozSafer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 ozSafer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II Concentrate, 16 oz Safer Brand 5163 Caterpillar Killer II is a natural, organic fix. It is OMRI certified. This means the Organic Materials Review Institute has found it organic according to USDA organic qualifications. It doesn’t harm birds, your soil, earthworms, or beneficial insects.

Spray in the morning or evening, as it dries quickly in the sunshine. This safe, natural product also kills caterpillars, gypsy moth larvae, cabbage loopers, and other garden pests. If you choose some other OMRI-certified product, look for Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). That is the naturally occurring bacterium that does the job.

#4 – Use row covers

A row cover makes the perfect squash vine borer treatment. If momma moth can’t get to your squash, zucchinis, and pumpkins to lay her eggs, she will look elsewhere.

A row cover is a thin, lightweight cloth or fabric that you lay over rows of your plants. Row covers let the sun, air, and water get to your plants, but nothing else.

#5 – Spot check squash leaves

If you see a leaf that is limp, dry, or has a hole at the bottom of the stem, you might have vine borers. If the rest of the plant’s leaves are fine, break the infected leaf off at the base of its stem. Problem solved.

#6 – Plant butternut squash and Italian tromboncinos

Zucchinis and summer squash are the vine borer’s favorites. This little pest doesn’t do nearly as much damage to butternut squash. He just doesn’t find them attractive. Plant butternut squash and you likely won’t have as many vine borer problems.

The Italian tromboncinos summer squash is also highly resistant to this and other critters. You can get tromboncino squash seeds on Amazon.

#7 – Use companion planting to keep pests off

Grow a few of these companion plants for squash near all of your plants from the squash family to attract pollinators, deter pests, and encourage healthy growth.

Vine borers will attack many of the 965 species of plants in the Cucurbitaceae family, not just squash. Try these squash vine borer treatments if your squash, pumpkin, and zucchini plants are under attack.  They can keep your plants healthy and increase your yield. You won’t be using chemicals and pesticides, and that’s a good thing.


Best squash vine borer treatment

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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check your her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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