For some gardeners, the challenge of eliminating common garden pest problems like squash bugs can be tedious.
Squash bugs suck sap from the leaves, fruit, and vines of squash plants and other cucurbits. As a result, it is vital that you get rid of them as quickly as possible.
There are summer and winter squash varieties, including butternut, zucchini, marrow, and pumpkins. All types may need protection from this pest.
Here’s how to get rid of squash bugs naturally:
1. Hose Them
A simple home remedy to stop or prevent squash bugs from damaging crops is to spray them off with a strong jet of water. However, be careful not to harm your plants in the process.
2. Soap Spray
This natural squash bug repellent involves using a spray bottle filled with water and some liquid soap. Dawn dish soap works great, but we recommend using Castile organic liquid soap.
For the recipe, combine 2 tablespoons of liquid soap with a gallon of water.
Spray the solution directly on the bugs and under the leaves where they may be hiding. Soapy water will kill squash bugs by suffocating them.
3. Coffee Grounds
A simple DIY organic squash bug control method is to make use of coffee grounds.
Boil coffee grounds in water and let the solution cool before spraying it on the bugs. This homemade squash bug spray also repels cucumber beetles and other zucchini plant bugs.
You can also spread used coffee grounds around the base of your plants to add nutrients to the soil.
4. Neem Oil
Neem oil is used as a natural pesticide. It is effective against many pests, including squash beetles.
To use neem oil on squash bugs, combine two tablespoons of the oil with one tablespoon of liquid soap and a gallon of water.
Spray frequently from the spring onward to kill squash bugs. You can also use it to get rid of vine borers and prevent powdery mildew on plants.
5. Pick Them Off
Picking off the bugs may not be a suitable control method for large farms. However, for small backyard gardens, this can be an effective home remedy to get rid of squash bugs organically.
Do this daily to help control the bugs. You can also wrap a piece of duct tape (sticky side out) around your hand to remove clusters of squash bug eggs and young nymphs.
6. Trap Crops
Growing trap crops nearby or between the plants is one way of dealing with the problem. Sometimes called ‘sacrificial plants’, trap crops will lure these pests away from your main crops.
One such plant is the blue hubbard squash . The bugs seem to prefer it over other varieties.
7. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
When the bugs come into contact with diatomaceous earth, they will become dehydrated and later die.
However, it is more effective on squash bug nymphs. The sharpness of the powder will cut through their soft bodies.
To use diatomaceous earth to kill squash bugs, sprinkle it on the leaves of the plants and on the soil around the affected plants.
Alternatively, make a homemade spray for squash bugs by combining one part DE with four parts water. Shake well and use it to spray the critters.
Use food-grade diatomaceous earth to get rid of squash bugs in the house.
8. Remove Eggs
Removing the eggs will prevent further infestations, as long as you keep removing them.
You can identify them as clusters of small, spherical, bronze-colored eggs . You’ll often find them on the undersides and stems of leaves.
Scrape them off and crush them, or drop them in a bowl of soapy water.
9. Row Covers
Another simple method to keep squash bugs away is to protect your garden plants with floating row covers. These also provide protection from birds and other pests.
Moreover, variations can be bought online or in local garden stores. However, you can also have them made from fine mesh or other suitable lightweight fabrics to keep bugs off your squash plants.
10. Garlic Spray
Garlic will kill squash bugs and other bad bugs in your garden. To make a homemade garlic spray for squash bugs, add 4 crushed garlic cloves to 2 tablespoons of mineral oil.
Let the mixture sit for at least 24 hours. Afterward, strain out the particles and add the garlic oil to a pint of water and one teaspoon of liquid soap.
Please note that this solution is now in its concentrated form, which is very potent. Therefore, you’ll have to dilute it.
When ready to use, take 2 tablespoons of the concentrated solution and add it to a pint of water. Shake well and spray the bugs and affected plants.
11. Clean Up
Pruning plants and keeping the garden clean will help deter many pests. Also, it is best to avoid mulch, as it gives adult squash bugs a place to overwinter.
12. Repellent Plants
A great repellent plant to deal with pumpkin bugs is marigolds. Marigolds planted near your crops can also deter many other harmful insects.
There are also several others that you can use as companion plants to repel squash bugs. These include nasturtiums, radishes, catnip, lavender, dill, oregano, lemon balm, and petunias.
13. Natural Predators
Planting marigolds nearby can also attract the tachinid fly and praying mantises. These are both natural squash bug predators.
Damsel bugs and ground beetles also prey on squash bug eggs and other stages of the pest.
14. Kaolin Clay
This is an entirely organic mineral substance. However, it does not kill squash beetles outright.
The clay works by disrupting the life cycle of the pests by preventing them from feeding. As a result, they’ll slowly die off.
Vinegar is an effective all-round garden remedy for controlling certain pests, cleaning garden tools, and even controlling certain plant diseases. Some gardeners also find that it kills squash bugs.
Therefore, make a solution by combining vinegar and water in a spray bottle at a ratio of 1:3. Use it to spray the bugs.
16. Epsom Salt
Epsom salt is known to repel beetles rather than kill them. Some gardeners have had success using it as a deterrent for many bugs on plants.
To use it, make a spray by combining 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt with 2 teaspoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water.
Use this solution to spray the leaves and stems of your plants.
17. Bug Buster-O
Buster-O is a commercially available organic pesticide containing pyrethrins that you can spray directly onto the critters. Moreover, this squash bug killer is safe to use on plants grown organically.
If you notice gray to black bugs on your squash vegetable, like the one in our featured image, it’s most likely the squash pest discussed in this article.
While squash is the main host plant for these bugs, they also target melons and cantaloupes.
Eliminating them from the garden and around the house can be achieved using home remedies and entirely natural methods.