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17 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Squash Bugs

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17 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Squash Bugs on Plants

For some gardeners, the challenge of controlling common garden pests like squash bugs can be tedious.

Squash bugs suck sap from the leaves, young fruits, and vines of squash, pumpkins, 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. When thoroughly soaked, 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. It will repel these bugs.

Boil coffee grounds in water and let the solution cool before spraying it on the insects. 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 cucumber 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 help remove clusters of squash bug eggs and young nymphs.

6. Trap Crops

Growing trap crops nearby or between your garden plants is one way of dealing with the problem. Sometimes called ‘sacrificial plants’, trap crops can lure these pests away from your main crops.

One such plant is the blue hubbard squash [1]. The bugs seem to prefer it over other varieties.

7. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Diatomaceous earth is effective against squash bug nymphs. The sharpness of the powder will cut through their soft bodies, and they will later die.

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 (nymphs).

8. Remove Eggs

Removing the eggs will prevent further infestations, as long as you keep removing them.

You can identify them as small clusters of copper-colored eggs that are slightly oval and shiny [2]. 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 your vegetable 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 squash bug repellent plants 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 a natural, soft white clay that you can use against these pests. However, it does not kill squash beetles but rather deters them.

The clay also works against grasshoppers, cucumber beetles, boring insects, and other pests.

15. Vinegar

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.

You can also use this remedy to get rid of squash bugs in the house.

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 OMRI-listed pesticide containing pyrethrins that you can spray directly onto the critters. It will kill them on contact.

This squash bug killer is safe to use on plants grown organically.


If you notice gray to black bugs on your squash and other crops, like the one in our featured image, it’s most likely the squash pest discussed in this article.

While squash and pumpkins are the main host plants 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.

Picture via Wikimedia

Sasha Brown

Sasha Brown is a blogger and lover of all things natural.

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