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Silverleaf on squash

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Silverleaf on squash

Post  1airdoc on 5/21/2012, 8:14 pm

I had been noticing the problem below on several leaves of my squash and zucchini(which I grew from seed). At first I suspected it was downy mildew and treated with sulfur, but on closer inspection, I found that the spots are not fuzzy and do not rub off.
Here's another view:
And a third

I had read other posts that said the silver color was normal, but on closer investigation, I found that it is caused by the silverleaf white fly. These tiny bugs are only 1/8 inch long and do not over winter in areas with freezing temperatures (of course, we had a very mild winter this year!). When their immature forms feed on the sap of the squash leaves, their saliva introduces toxins that cause the changes you see in the images above, which is caused by separation of the surface of the leaf from the lower layer. It can cause the plants to be stunted and have reduced fruit quality (pale fruit) and production.

You can find the flies by turning the leaf over and carefully inspecting the lower surfaces. I found several, but they were too small to photograph. Here's an image from online:

These look large, but when you compare them to the size of the leaf hairs beside them, you can appreciate their tiny size.

It only takes a small number of flies to cause the damage. I read that they are hard to control; insecticidal soaps are supposedly effective.

1airdoc

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Re: Silverleaf on squash

Post  crs on 5/21/2012, 9:52 pm

My zucchini leaves look like that too I was told it was normal. I will be checking tomorrow and try to get a handle on it. They are planted right next to my tomatoes, cucumbers, and cantaloupe and watermelon. I may have a bigger problem Thanks for that post.

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update

Post  1airdoc on 5/26/2012, 5:03 am

I used spinosad (organic pesticide) on the underside of the squash and zucchini leaves and then a couple of days later sprayed sulfur under the leaves and when I checked yesterday I found only a very rare whitefly. All the leaves have the silver spots on them, but the spots don't seem to be enlarging.

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Re: Silverleaf on squash

Post  rod champion on 5/31/2012, 9:55 am

what is the damage is left alone?

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Re: Silverleaf on squash

Post  1airdoc on 6/1/2012, 9:40 am

I have left the original damage alone (i.e., I haven't removed the leaves). The silver spots have not spread on the leaves where I originally noted them, and the leaves otherwise look healthy. I think that since I began treating the plants, the spots have decreased or not spread on new leaves, though. I still note an occasional white fly, but not many.

I opted to try to treat my plants since I read that the silver leaf can cause the plants to produce fewer and sometimes discolored fruit.

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Re: Silverleaf on squash

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