Not My Squash, You Don’t!

While wandering through the Demo Garden this morning on my weekly post-weekend check up, I noticed that one of the young squash plants in the Family of 4 Garden was looking less than vigorous. (Rather, I noticed that a couple of the plants were looking great, and one wasn’t.) It looked slightly wilted, and the leaves were splayed out rather than upright.

Upon closer inspection, I saw some holes near the base of the plant, and some orange goo. Bah humbug! I knew what that meant – squash vine borer! I carefully slit the crown of the plant open, and there was the culprit.

Vine BorerThe larvae is still awfully small to have caused so much damage, but the plants are still quite small too! I picked the caterpillar out and smashed it. The plant is probably a goner, but I decided I’d give it a chance to survive. I buried the stem to above the point where I slit it open in soil. Hopefully it will put down new roots and keep growing!

Controlling squash vine borer is extremely difficult. You either have to spray every 7-10 days with Sevin or permethrin nearly all season or attempt to use various cultural practices including: rotating location of squash in the garden, removing all plant debris in the fall, tilling deeply, and using row covers over the squash to prevent the moths from laying their eggs on the plants. Unfortunately, the row covers will eventually start preventing pollination of the squash!

About Rebecca

I'm a Horticulture Educator with Sedgwick County Extension, a branch of K-State Research and Extension, located in Wichita, KS. I teach about fruits, vegetables, and herbs.

Posted on July 6, 2009, in Family of 4 Garden, Insects Abound! and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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