For commercial or home-growers, 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 pierce and suck the sap of cucurbits. Chemical spraying may be effective for large farms but today many 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 which the bug affects. All types need a pest-free environment to thrive.
Here’s how to get rid of squash bugs naturally and organically.
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 plant can substantially reduce the infestation on the main plants .
2. Hose Them
One approach 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 out with cold water and vacuum them up and dispose of them.
3. Soap Spray
This method involves using a hand spray filled with water and some organic insecticidal liquid soap. Besides, adding a little vinegar can make this homemade repellent even more potent.
Spray the soapy water directly onto them and/or around or under the leaves where they may be hiding.
4. Coffee Grounds
A simple DIY organic squash bug control means.
Boil coffee grounds in water and spray the solution onto the bugs or spread it around the base of the plants.
This spray also repels other zucchini plant bugs, cucumber beetles, and mosquitos.
5. Neem Oil
Oil extracted from the seed of the neem tree and widely used in organic farming today. Neem oil is a natural insecticide and effective against attacks by many pests including the squash beetle.
You can also use it to stay clear of mildew and fungus, helping to keep the entire garden healthy and so deter attacks from other destructive insects.
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 them.
6. Hand Pick
Hand-picking is not a suitable choice for large-scale crop growers. However, for individual backyard gardeners, this effective home remedy needs only patience and persistence.
Some farmers also suggest using duct tape to remove the pests or some other form of sticky material.
Apply this method daily to control the bugs.
7. Diatomaceous Earth
This is a very successful natural means of pest control for large invasions.
DE is also known as fossil shell flour. It consists of the crushed and powdered shells of tiny fossilized aquatic creatures. When 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 pests that overwinter in the soil.
Sprinkle it on the soil around affected plants and on the leaves. However, you’ll need a fresh application after a rain shower. Using the food-grade version, diatomaceous earth is also safe for house use.
8. Remove Eggs
A painstaking removal of squash bug 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.
Afterward, scrape them off and crush them. You can also use duct tape for this purpose.
9. Row Covers
Another simple method of tackling the problem is to plant in rows and protect the young plants with a cover. These covers provide protection from birds, frosts, and other elements of the weather.
Variations can be bought or homemade from fine mesh or other suitable lightweight fabrics.
10. Repellent Plants
One of the most widely known and effective repellent plants is marigolds.
These make a beautiful and complementary splash of color to the garden but planted near to your crop will deter pests.
11. Clean Up
Keeping the plants pruned and the garden clean will also 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 and protect the crop. These include nasturtiums, radishes, catnip, dill, 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.
The damsel bug and ground beetles also munch on the eggs and other stages of the pest.
14. Kaolin Clay
This is an entirely organic mineral substance that does not kill squash beetles outright.
The clay works by disrupting the life cycle of the pests by preventing them from feeding and eliminating them in this way.
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.
This squash bug killer is safe to use on plants by all means.
If you notice gray, white, or yellow bugs on your squash, it’s most likely the squash pest discussed in this article.
Squash is one of the most important crops grown today. Moreover, it is a beautiful colorful plant that is also a highly nutritious foodstuff.
While it’s the main host plant for the 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 by patient care and entirely organic methods.