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Squash borers :(  RSS feed

 
Katie Jarvis
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We have horrible squash borers! We are in tx and this year the borers got every summer squash AND every winger squash (which are supposed to be immune). We have as much of a permaculture type garden as we can - they are mixed in with other plants, flowers, herbs, etc. does anyone know of specific plants that might confuse them? Or of specific squash types that are really difficult for them to penetrate? They are a moth that lays its egg on the base of the stem and the larvae burrow into the stem and live there until hatch. They then burrow into the soil until next year. I'm hoping the chickens got the larvae out of the soil, but I don't really know. I really don't want to deal with row covers, but I really do want squash....
 
Deb Rebel
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I grew competition pumpkins for awhile. The squash vine borers (black with a bit of red and incredibly fast) knew everyone's patch address east of the Rockies. They would literally travel north. We had an international grower's forum and would be noting when anyone seen one and chart them going north. And they would show literally to the day every year in your location. There was a fellow in mid Texas and when he said they showed at his place, I had four days to get my preemptives sprayed.

Unfortunately the only thing we found that truly worked isn't a good thing to do, ever.

Burying your vines in dirt helped a little. Keeping track of when they appear so you could do that, helped some, having them buried by then. Not deep deep but covered over.

They get into the vine, it was gone in hours.

You have my sympathy and condolences. I was told guinea hens MIGHT be quick enough to get them. We never really found a canary plant or a sacrificial or anything that repulsed them. (circa 2010-2011)
 
Katie Jarvis
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Thanks for the info - I've heard that wrapping the vine in pantyhose will stop them from laying, so maybe I'll try that. Guinea hens is an interesting idea - maybe that or a turkey poult could work...
 
Tj Jefferson
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The borers are a huge problem. We lost several plants, but the issue is that they also weaken other plants and make them more susceptible to squash bugs.

I did have a few squash that seemed to be unaffected, and they were winter squash far from the outbreak.

A couple ideas:
First is trap plants. Short version, use some early flowering squash and transplant them so they are in that stage before the other plants. Place them on the corners as those are the most commonly affected. If you are doing a traditional squash patch you need only check the corner trap plants, the others are often left alone. But you need to check them every morning! If you are a bad person you can treat these corner plants with something nasty that kills the borers applied at the base. If you remove dead leaves the squash bugs tend to be easier to find near the base.

Second is make sure your minerals are very high. Silicates are important, I use a mix of DE and rock dust and the leaves are DARK green and firm, not like the ones I used to grow which were bright green.

Third is don't clear around your squash too much. Leave habitat for spiders and ants. The spiders seem to keep the larger insects down, the ants eat eggs and nymphs.

Lastly, save seeds. I am not even trying to grow specific varieties anymore. Check out Lofthouse's postings on landrace growing. I am working through Carol Dieppe's book too. I think this is the longer term answer. So far the winter squash are producing but the summer squash have been hammered. I intend to work on a summer squash that will perform here.

 
chip sanft
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We have squash vine borers pretty bad here and have worked out some things that work for us:

1. Plant early and plant late. Squash vine borers are active for a set period of time, which will vary depending on your area. You can do succession planting of squash seed starting as early as possible and continuing as late as possible -- this is good for people with long growing seasons -- and you'll get fruit around the borers.

2. Plant resistant varieties -- moschata (butternut and the like) are famous for being resistant, and we've had luck, but other types also work. It's not that they don't get borers, but the types that succeed despite them tend to put down lots of roots along the stem and then aren't killed (apparently) when infested. You can help encourage this by burying stem nodes, too.

3. As TJ has suggested, saving seeds will help you succeed by giving you the progeny of plants that have done well in your specific area. Asking your neighbors if you see them getting squash is another good idea.
 
Katie Jarvis
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Great! Next year I'll try these ideas. We can do trap plants and check them each morning, and I think we can get a crop before after the borer season. O would absolutely save seeds if I ever find anythinng successul! Last year we bough heirloom varieties of butternut, and other moschata varieties, and everything died I think we will mainly just have to get them started earlier and then try a fall crop. We definitely also need to help our soil, there's no question that it's bad, but it's getting better every year!
 
James Freyr
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I have read one decent way to manage the squash borers is to brush some tanglefoot onto the base of squash plants and up the vines a short ways. From what I understand the base of the vines is the preferred location for the borers to lay their eggs. I suffered many a nice squash vine loss to those lil' bastards this season, and I'm gonna try the tanglefoot next year.
 
Katie Jarvis
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What is tanglefoot?
 
James Freyr
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You know those sticky yellow trap cards? It's that super sticky goo but it comes in a tub and you can brush it directly onto plants or tree trunks. Whatever steps in it or lands on it won't be going anywhere.
 
Deb Rebel
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SVB, Squash Vine Borers...  massive swear word in the competition pumpkin grower circles...

https://www.green-talk.com/squash-vine-borer-prevention/ ; some of this may help. Usually though my vines would get hit several feet down (to be fair when the main is 25' long, and secondaries are filling the 30x30' space allotted, that's a lot of plant to check) from the stump. And when that vine went limp and I found the orange foamy frass, about all I could do was cut it off at the next node up and remove to a distant dumpster to be sent to the city landfill. Note too, floating row cover doesn't help if the pupae are below the area you cover, as they can emerge right up into that covered area from below.

squash-vine-borer-melittia-cucurbitae.jpg
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The female, she flies! And she is very fast.
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Life size
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The eggs if you are lucky enough to see them.
 
David Livingston
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Just a thought here in Europe we use netting to grow leeks carrots and brassica keeping moths and butterflies at bay .especially if the moths are only active for a limited period , after this period the plants could then be allowed to grow wild in there usual manner http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=34665.0
 
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