For some gardeners, the challenge of eliminating common garden pest problems like a squash bug infestation can be tedious.
Squash bug damage can be extensive as the pests suck sap from the leaves, fruit, and vines of squash plants and other cucurbits. Chemical spraying may be effective for large farms but today many home growers prefer eco-friendly solutions to get rid of them.
There are summer and winter varieties of the squash vegetable, 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. Trap Crops
Growing other plants that are attractive to pumpkin bugs is one way of dealing with the problem. Sometimes called ‘sacrificial plants’, trap crops will lure the pests away from your main crops.
One such plant is the Blue Hubbard squash . It will keep squash bugs happy, reducing the infestation on your main plants.
2. 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.
3. Soap Spray
This natural squash bug repellent involves using a hand spray filled with water and some liquid soap. Dawn dish soap works great, but we use organic liquid soap when dealing with vegetables.
For this recipe, combine 2 tablespoons of liquid soap in a gallon of water. Additionally, adding a little vinegar can make this homemade repellent even more potent.
Spray the solution directly onto them and/or around or under the leaves where they may be hiding. Soapy water will kill squash bugs that come in contact with it.
4. Coffee Grounds
A simple DIY organic squash bug control method is making use of coffee grounds.
Boil coffee grounds in water and let the solution cool before spraying it onto the bugs. This spray also repels other zucchini plant bugs, cucumber beetles, and mosquitos.
You can also spread used coffee grounds around the base of your plants to add nutrients to the soil.
5. Neem Oil
Neem oil is a natural insecticide that is effective against attacks of many pests including squash beetles.
To use neem oil on squash bugs, combine two tablespoons of the oil with one tablespoon of liquid soap in a gallon of water.
Spray frequently from the spring onwards to kill squash bugs. You can also use it to get rid of vine borers and prevent powdery mildew.
6. Hand Pick
Hand-picking is not a suitable choice for large-scale crop growers. However, for individual backyard gardeners, this is an effective home remedy to get rid of squash bugs organically.
Do this daily to control the bugs. Some gardeners even suggest using duct tape or other sticky traps to remove the pests.
7. Diatomaceous Earth
Using DE is a very successful natural means of pest control. When the bugs come into contact with it, they become dehydrated and later die. The sharpness of the powder will also cut through and destroy squash bug larvae and other soft-bodied pests.
To use diatomaceous earth to kill squash bugs, sprinkle it on the soil around affected plants and on the leaves. 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.
For outdoor use, you’ll need a fresh application after a rain shower. However, use the food-grade version to get rid of squash bugs in the house.
8. Remove Eggs
Removal of the eggs will help prevent an infestation. You can identify them as clusters of very small brown oval-shaped eggs nestling under the leaves of the plants.
Scrape them off and crush them.
9. Row Covers
Another simple method to keep squash bugs away is to plant in rows and protect the young plants with a cover. These covers also provide protection from birds, frosts, and other elements of the weather.
Variations can be bought online or in local garden stores. However, you can also have them homemade from fine mesh or other suitable lightweight fabrics to keep bugs off your squash plants.
A great repellent plant to deal with these pests is marigolds. Moreover, the flowers make a beautiful and complementary splash of color to the garden. Marigolds planted near your crops will also deter many other harmful insects.
11. Clean Up
Keeping the plants pruned and the garden clean will deter the development of many pests. Also, it is best to avoid mulch as this attracts and harbors insects of all kinds.
12. Companion Planting
Along with marigolds, there are several other companion plants that repel squash bugs. These include nasturtiums, radishes, catnip, dill, oregano, lemon balm, and petunias.
13. Beneficial Insects
Planting marigolds not only repels the bugs but the flowers also attract the Tachinid Fly. This small helpful insect lays its eggs on the pests and, after hatching out, burrows into the squash bug nymphs and devours them.
Damsel bugs and ground beetles also prey upon squash bug eggs and other stages of this 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.
15. Bug Buster-O
Buster-O is a commercially available organic pesticide containing pyrethrins that you can spray directly onto the critters, getting rid of them permanently.
Moreover, this squash bug killer is safe to use on plants grown organically.
If you notice gray, white, or yellow bugs on your squash like the one in our featured picture, it’s most likely the squash pest discussed in this article.
While squash is the main host plant for these bugs, they also feed on tomatoes and melons and cantaloupes.
Protecting your crop, controlling the life cycle of harmful bugs, and eliminating them from the garden and around the house can be achieved using home remedies and entirely organic methods.