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What worked against squash pests this year?

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What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  ander217 on 8/24/2010, 2:13 pm

We are thinking about next year's garden already, and wondering what we can do differently to make it better. One of our biggest failures this year was with squash bugs and squash vine borers. We handpicked daily and managed to keep the bugs at bay long enough to harvest a few squash, but when we were away for three days the SVB invaded and killed the plants.

What did people do that were successful in controlling them? We'd like to stay organic, and since we have a bee tree next to our garden we're afraid to spray Neem oil.

Did anyone try making wire covers for their boxes to keep out the insects?We're thinking of trying that next year but not sure how well it would work. Does it shade the plants too much? Does hand pollination work as well as natural methods?

Would waiting to plant until mid-summer help?

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  Chopper on 8/24/2010, 2:54 pm

I wonder if just wrapping the base of the plant in gauze or tape would help with SVB or if they would just move up farther?

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  boffer on 8/24/2010, 2:56 pm

Another avenue to pursue is timing. Can you plant around the critical life-cycle of the problem pests?

Someone in your area is familiar with this:

Phenology Models and Degree-day Calculator
for Agricultural and Pest Management Decision Making in the U.S.

The hard part is finding them! You might start with http://uspest.org and see where that leads.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  Retired Member 1 on 8/24/2010, 3:20 pm

Squash borers have a fairly short window as to when they attack a plant, so that is easy to work around.

Cucumber/ squash beetles on the other hand -- yikes! I grew a bumper crop this year inspite of using just about every organic method at my disposal. I finally gave up on one patch and just let the bugs have 'em. On another, as much as I hated to, I used sevin.

If I have another year like this, I might just give up curcubites altogether.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  vinny09 on 8/24/2010, 9:40 pm

I had a squash bug infestation last year b/c I got lazy and didn't try to kill them when I first saw them or remove leaves with eggs laid on them. By infestation I mean I'd vacuum up about a hundred or so only to find that they were replaced about a week later. Anyway, this year, I grew some nasturtium (listed as a companion plant to ward off squash bugs) right next to my butternut squash. I picked the 3 or 4 squash bugs I found early in the season and am happy to say I have not seen 1 squash bug all season. For squash vine borers, I read somewhere that if you mound the soil up around the thick part of the stem coming out of the ground, that might help.

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More info, please

Post  ander217 on 8/25/2010, 7:39 am

belfrybat wrote:Squash borers have a fairly short window as to when they attack a plant, so that is easy to work around.

Belfry and Boffer, could you explain the timing thing more in more detail, please? I lost my zucchini early in the season to SVB and I planted again in mid-summer. I harvested one zucchini before they succumbed again. As you know, Belfry, we get more generations here in the southern states.

We kept the long brown squash bugs handpicked all season from our butternuts but we missed three days and when we went to the garden we discovered the plants had been attacked by SVB. There were larvae all over the plants - high up on the trellis in leaf joints as well as lower down in the stems. We killed nine larvae on one plant but it was too late. The plants wilted and died the next day. Had the SVB been working already and we missed them while focusing on the squash bugs and eggs, or can they act that fast?

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  boffer on 8/25/2010, 10:23 am

Each type of plant takes a certain amount of heat units (GGDs) to reach maturity. Each type of bug takes a certain amount of heat units to develop to the stage where it causes crop damage. By daily tracking of heat units, commercial farmers know when a certain pest is going to show up to damage their crops. They can then more efficiently and effectively use their pest management procedures.

Home gardeners just know that a certain pest shows up at a certain time each year. Sometimes, with planning, a certain veggie can be grown to maturity before the pest arrives. Sometimes, it is more prudent to wait till the end of the pests' life cycle to plant.

I thought you might have some planting schedule flexibility with your long growing season. On the other hand, you also have to work around the high temps you get.

I dunno!

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  Megan on 8/25/2010, 7:20 pm

My crookneck squash did poorly (too much shade, I think) and eventually died due to damage that was SVB or a really good imitation.

The rampicante hasn't been stopped by ANYTHING and is still sending out new vine branches even now. We think it wants to eat the house next. It is showing some discolored leaves (not sure what that problem is?) and the very oldest leaves look a little tired, but it doesn't seem to be slowing it down any. I finally got one fruit to go to "winter" stage. Unfortunately something took a small chunk out of it (so much for my county fair idea!) but it's still usable.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  miinva on 8/26/2010, 12:32 pm

The squash bugs found my rampicante, but they haven't beaten it yet. They did slow it down, though.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  Megan on 8/26/2010, 5:33 pm

@miinva wrote:The squash bugs found my rampicante, but they haven't beaten it yet. They did slow it down, though.

Squash bugs, or SVB? I don't know what squash bug damage looks like.

I need to buy a panorama app for my phone so I can make bigger pictures... it's really hard to see how far this thing has spread from just one photo.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  miinva on 8/26/2010, 10:40 pm

Squash bugs, the damage wilts the leaves here and there and if they hatch, the leaves get brown spots along the veins.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  miinva on 8/26/2010, 10:57 pm

Megan, my husband found an application called Hugin that will stitch pictures together and it works really well. You could give it a try Smile

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  marc-in-pa on 8/26/2010, 11:01 pm

In mid-July I had to rip out all of my zucchini and yellow squash plants due to borers. Funny thing is that I saw an adult borer buzzing around and thought it was such an interesting insect. Now I know to declare war on the little bugger next year!

Here is an excerpt from a webpage I found on management options. Link to the full page is at the bottom.

Squash vine borers are challenging to prevent or manage. Use integrated pest management (IPM) methods for the best results. Most management options are limited to control the hatching larvae before they enter the plant. Once the larvae invade the stem, it is difficult to treat squash vine borers. Home gardeners can take a proactive stance against squash vine borers by monitoring your squash for the presence of adult borers starting the last week of June. Monitoring tells you if and when squash vine borers are present. This information helps you determine what further management measures may be necessary. There are two methods for detecting squash vine borer adults. The first is actual observation of adult activity in the garden. These moths are conspicuous insects when flying and easy to detect; watch for them when you're in your garden. In addition, the adults make a very noticeable buzzing sound when flying that is easy to detect while in the garden.

You can also use yellow trap pans to detect squash vine borer adults. This can be any container (e.g. pan, pail, bowl) colored yellow and filled with water. Because squash vine borer adults are attracted to yellow, they will fly to the container and be trapped when they fall into the water. Place traps by late June, checking your traps at least once a day. When you notice squash vine borer adults in your traps you know they are active and it is time to take further action.

Cultural
Plant vine crops that are usually not attacked by squash vine borers, such as butternut squash, cucumbers, melons, and watermelons.

A second planting of summer squash made in early July will mature after adult borers have finished laying eggs.

Promptly pull and destroy any plants killed by squash vine borers.

Physical
You can physically exclude adult borers by placing floating row covers over your vine crops when they start to vine (or for non-vining varieties, starting late June or early July) or when you first detect squash vine borer adults. Keep the barriers in place for about two weeks after the first adult borer has been seen. Be sure the row covers are securely anchored to prevent adults from moving underneath it.

Caution: Generally do not use floating row covers anytime crops are flowering. This prevents bees from pollinating your vegetables which will have a negative impact on plants. An exception to this would be if you pollinate your crops by hand while the floating row cover is erected.

Insecticidal
If insecticides are needed, spray or dust the stems at their base. Start treatments when vines begin to run (or the last week of June or early July for non-vining varieties) or when the first adult borers are detected. Repeat in 7-10 days. Two applications help manage most squash vine borer adults. For more thorough coverage, continue treatments at 7-10 day intervals until the end of July. Below is a list of common names of active ingredients that are effective against squash vine borers.

Common name
Residual*
Notes

carbaryl
medium
contact

permethrin
medium-long
contact

bifenthrin
medium-long
contact

esfenvalerate
long
contact


*Long residual can persist as long as four weeks. Medium residual can persist as long as 10-14 days.

CAUTION: Read all insecticide labels very carefully before buying and again before using to ensure proper application. It is especially important that the label specify recommended use on potatoes, or generally on vegetables. Also be sure to observe the number of days between pesticide application and when you can harvest potatoes. The label is the final authority on how you may legally use any pesticide.

If, despite your efforts, your crop is successfully attacked by borers, you can try to kill the borer inside the vine. Although the chance of saving the plant is not good, you do not have much to lose. As soon as wilting is noticed, use a sharp knife to cut a slit in the affected stem. Slice carefully up the vine until you locate the borer (or borers). Once you have killed any borers with the tip of the knife, mound moist soil over the cut area and keep this spot well watered. New roots may grow along the cut stem, allowing the plant to survive.


Here is the link to the page for more information:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1209.html

Hope that helps!
Marc

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  Megan on 8/27/2010, 6:59 pm

@miinva wrote:Squash bugs, the damage wilts the leaves here and there and if they hatch, the leaves get brown spots along the veins.

Hm. I have seen the little buggers around and killed them when I can, but it's a losing battle. A very few leaves (usually older) have wilted out and died.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  auntij on 8/27/2010, 11:12 pm

My approach may end up being ....buy zucchini and summer squash at a farm because apparently SVB's LOVE my garden! They killed 3 zukes and 5 crookneck plants. I am trying 3 more zukes but I doubt I will get much out of them due to time. We were diligent, we dusted, we used sevin, we searched, we tried almost everything. <sigh> I will study hard over the winter and come up with a better strategy for next year.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  Megan on 8/28/2010, 6:53 am

I am SO sorry to hear that, auntij! I had some success with crookneck a number of years ago, but haven't been able to keep one alive since. I've thought about trying to replant cucumbers, but like you, I don't think I'll have time. (Then again... who knows how long this summer will last?!) I will be posting a September update for Mid-Atlantic soon, hope to see how the rest of your garden is doing!

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  silverbug on 8/28/2010, 8:15 am

Boy, I sure wish I knew, since the SVB decimated my pumpkin plant...it was a sad, sad sight to come home from vacation to, however, I knew it was gonna happen before I left.

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Re: What worked against squash pests this year?

Post  Megan on 8/28/2010, 8:20 am

My pumpkins are showing signs of mildew... but they are also sprouting new growth and looking stubborn. We shall see.

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Row covers

Post  ander217 on 8/28/2010, 7:36 pm

@marc-in-pa wrote:
You can physically exclude adult borers by placing floating row covers over your vine crops when they start to vine (or for non-vining varieties, starting late June or early July) or when you first detect squash vine borer adults. Keep the barriers in place for about two weeks after the first adult borer has been seen. Be sure the row covers are securely anchored to prevent adults from moving underneath it.

Caution: Generally do not use floating row covers anytime crops are flowering. This prevents bees from pollinating your vegetables which will have a negative impact on plants. An exception to this would be if you pollinate your crops by hand while the floating row cover is erected.

I think those floating row covers are more what we had in mind for next year, but I'm not familiar with them. Can someone tell me more about them? How do you construct them with SFG boxes and beds?

Boffer, I understand your discussion on timing, but with so many of our neighbors planting squash too, I suspect that no matter when we plant squash, there will still be squash bugs in the neighborhood. They are around all season. The timing suggestion may help for SVB, however. I'll give it a shot. High heat doesn't seem to cause a problem with germination for squash.

Once all of our squash and pumpkins (including butternut squash) had succumbed, the squash bugs moved on to the cucumbers and muskmelons. So planting "less susceptible" varieties didn't work for us. The only cucurbits they didn't bother were the watermelons.

Dear Hubby has been in the garden all day constructing an underground wire perimeter to keep the voles out, and if we construct wire covers for the squash our garden will soon look more like an armored compound than a garden. (But if that's what it takes, so be it. We have officially declared war on the pests.) Of course, experience tells me that next year it will be something else and we may not even need these extreme measures.

(That sound you hear is frustration running rampant.)

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