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 by luring them away from the main crop. Adults can fly and will settle on any plant that appears desirable.
Sometimes called ‘sacrificial plants’, trap crops will keep them away from your prized crop. A secondary crop such as the Blue Hubbard squash can substantially reduce the infestation on the main plants .
2. Hose Them
One home remedy to stop or prevent squash bugs from damaging crops is simply to use a strong jet of water on the plants.
Leaving a hose out in full sunshine before spraying will heat the water and destroy many bugs on contact, and yet others may drown.
Alternatively, you can flush them off with cold water and vacuum them up and dispose of them.
3. Soap Spray
This natural squash bug repellent involves using a hand spray filled with water and some liquid soap. Some gardeners use Dawn dish soap; however, we recommend using soap that is organic.
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 it 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 by many pests including the squash beetle.
To use neem oil on squash bugs, combine two tablespoons of it with one tablespoon of liquid soap in a gallon of water.
Spray frequently from the spring onwards to get rid of vine borers and squash beetles. You can also use it to 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. The product consists of the crushed shells of tiny fossilized aquatic creatures.
To use diatomaceous earth to kill squash bugs, sprinkle it on the soil around affected plants and on the leaves.
When the bugs come into contact with it, they become dehydrated and die. The sharpness of the powder can also cut through and destroy squash bug larvae and other soft-bodied pests.
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 of the critters.
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.
10. Repellent Plants
One of the most widely known and effective repellent plants to deal with pests is marigolds.
Moreover, these flowers make a beautiful and complementary splash of color to the garden. Marigolds planted near your crops will deter many 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 pollen and 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.