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squash bugs/borers

 
Rita Vail
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Location: Northwest
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Okay, folks. Anybody out there solve the squash bug/borer problem, because I sure haven't.
 
Emily Jacques
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I haven't personally, but I have heard of people having success repelling the bugs by sprinkling dried bay leaves all around the squash plant. One day, I will have a bay bush...

I also hear that diatomaecous earth mixed in with the soil at the base of squash plants keep the vine borers away. I know that's not the greatest b/c it can kill beneficials, but that's what I'm going to try this year. HTH. 
 
Rob Sigg
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My native green frogs do a really good job at this. Give them a habitat and they will come do their thing.
 
Brenda Groth
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very limited success with putting a bird feeder on a hook over the plants, but they didn't eliminate them all.
 
Emily Jacques
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Rob S. aka Blitz wrote:
My native green frogs do a really good job at this. Give them a habitat and they will come do their thing.


I like that idea better than mine. 
 
Rob Sigg
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I know first hand it works, I found that flax and buckwheat planted in clumps around the garden help by attracting beneficials. In addition to all the other good plants like dill etc.
 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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Thanks everyone - Sabadilla dust is the only thing that has ever helped, but it must have been not so organic as it seems to have disappeared from the marketplace.

It's my worst problem, and I hardly get a single squash. However, pumpkins did pretty well last year. Go figure.

I keep building the soil and grow all kinds of things for the beneficials, but it is too hot and dry for frogs. I am in the middle of town and no room for a pond. My garden is not all that dry, but the rest of the neighborhood sure is, and I do have a lot of garter snakes. They like frogs.

This year I will try to grow some vertically. I heard they don't like cedar, so there is that, as well as DE. And I will try the bay leaves, too.

 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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squash bugs wrecked havoc in my lil garden last yr.  im borrowing an idea i saw here from another member to hopefully eradicate the lil menaces.  i have a 3 ft fence around my garden. this yr im putting some flightless chickens in my garden once everything is in and growing.  im going to try a pair of silkies.  the 3 ft fence should keep them in and hopefully they will work on the undesirebles that inhabit the veg. garden. 
 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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Dead Rabbit - Chickens can destroy a garden by scratching for bugs and just dig everything up. Ducks are safer. It might work if you try my way of keeping the neighborhood cats from digging. I use sticks and poke them in the ground as a perimeter for the bed, but also solidly in the bed, so the cats won't go in it. And yes, it is a lot of trouble. Bamboo wrks for this, also chicken wire, row covers, stakes with twine criss-crossing the beds. I've never had any of that mesh they use to throw over a cherry tree, say, to save the harvest from the birds, but it sounds like a good idea, too.

It is common to let the chickens in before you plant, however. You can try it after all the plants are big, too. But I once had my chickens completely destroy every one of my tulips by scratching the bulbs to a pulp. Maybe they were eating them. No telling with chickens. They could probably destroy that mesh too.
 
                                              
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RitaSparrow wrote:
It's my worst problem, and I hardly get a single squash. However, pumpkins did pretty well last year. Go figure.


  what variety did you grow? of pumpkins that is..... sounds like it is resistant to the borers, and many older varieties are actually. Atleast partially.
 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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Actually, I didn't plant it, so it must have been from a jackolantern the year before. It grew out into the road and everyone slowed down and drove around it - it was so beautiful. I kept trying to move it and finally had to cut it back. They turned out to be decent eating.
 
                                              
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  Im afraid to ask...  you saved seeds right? If not, its fine, now you know if you trialed a few varieties you have the potential to find pumpkins and squash that the insects ignore (or close). perhaps a vine or two of something that attracts them as well.... It used to be a more common trait in squash, but you can still find it. sadly though most folks I know who found one, didnt know it had that trait until they grew it. so its not always easy to find them. a friend of mine used to have borers super bad, then over time found a few that were mostly ignored, and he pulls about 80-90 percent of the crop he would without them. which is pretty dang good considering he does nothing.

  couple that with the beneficials, and you should be good.
 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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I ate all the seeds. I have such a tiny garden, I did not want to grow more pumpkins. The bugs did not ignore them, but took longer to kill them. But I do save seeds and also encourage volunteers of most things. I will try some different varieties of squash this year and stay on top of them better perhaps trellising some and maybe covering some.

Has anyone gathered squash bugs and blended them up and sprayed them on the plants?
 
                                              
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  if its not kosher someone stop me, but i know a forum where you could trade for seeds real easy. Its a gardening forum. If you wanted to pursue trialing things to find resistance that is....

  I tried the bug tea thing with grass hoppers. It didnt seem to work for me. Ive seen people that tried it with other things and claimed it helped. so it may be worth a try.
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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Dead Rabbit wrote:
squash bugs wrecked havoc in my lil garden last yr.  im borrowing an idea i saw here from another member to hopefully eradicate the lil menaces.  i have a 3 ft fence around my garden. this yr im putting some flightless chickens in my garden once everything is in and growing.  im going to try a pair of silkies.  the 3 ft fence should keep them in and hopefully they will work on the undesirebles that inhabit the veg. garden. 


rita.  my plan is to introduce the fowl into the garden after everything is grown.  just before production sets in.  the vulnerable plants like lettuce and such will be raised in in a raised bed outside of the main garden.  im thinking of just having tomatoes, beans, squash, beets etc where the fowl are.  plus in choosing the silkies,,,they arent the most vibrant hearty of breeds so im hoping their scratching will be minimal..

its all a guess and experimentation. i'll see how it works.  and share my experince  good or bad.
 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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And my experience has been that chickens love lettuce and spend every waking moment scratching. Mine were free range all day, and the garden was fenced (I don't have any chickens now) but the flowrs, even every single expensive tulip bulb, were no more. Only shrubs survived. And hardy vines.

Anybody else out there?

As for squash bugs, I don't think they are very tastey. I believe I will have to be vigilant and use some kind of deterrent, like cedar oil. I love squash. I should b willing to fight the good fight!!
 
John Polk
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The tough stemmed squashes are less prone to the borers...they seek out the soft stemmed varieties to lay their eggs in.
 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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That would explain the pumpkins living longer. Maybe I will experiment with not watering much. Anyone know if there are tough stemmed varieties? However, it is the squash bug that is worse than the borers, or so it seems.
 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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RitaSparrow wrote:
Anyone know if there are tough stemmed varieties?


Yeah, I'd be glad to get some specific recommendations, too.
 
                                              
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hard stems are not the only factor. there are certain compounds  in some varieties as well.

  the wild cousins of these things often have little to no insect issues. breeding is in order. the industry wont do it for us.
 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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Wow. I finally googled the problem and found lots of info. Here's one good one from ATTRA. I should have thought of ATTRA. They are a treasure trove - http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/squash_pest.html

So, I am going to use the row covers and try injecting BT into the stems if I see any frass. Basically, it means not going on vacation in June. 

I'll report back as the season progresses. This is the Year of The Squash for me.
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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chip sanft wrote:
Yeah, I'd be glad to get some specific recommendations, too.


id be interested in learning more about this.  how would one go about "breeding" a more stable zuccini or yellow neck squash?
 
Rita Vail
Posts: 63
Location: Northwest
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Silverseeds - Thank you. Any seed suggestions?
 
                                              
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RitaSparrow wrote:
Silverseeds - Thank you. Any seed suggestions?


Its not a major issue for me so I never collected names of the varieties who have resistance actually.

but I have come across people who have had them, and mentioned that they had varieties less susceptible as you did. I also came across breeding notes on projects where they were breeding those compounds from wild squash into modern selections, and those papers mentioned many older varieties have them.

So I guess your best bet would be looking for people in similar areas that have less susceptible varieties, or simply trialing lots of older ones, until you build up a stock of them. you could take it one step farther, and get a few varieties of each species, and let the bees cross them, and over time select out something much more resistant.
Ive got a friend in missouri that has a variety or two I believe, if I talk to him soon, i will get the names, and seed if you like... I can try anyway, hes a super busy guy this time of year, he sells plants out of a nursery and works for baker creek seeds...
 
                                              
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Dead Rabbit wrote:
id be interested in learning more about this.  how would one go about "breeding" a more stable zuccini or yellow neck squash?


stable as in what? for insects?

You can breed in many different ways. It all depends on your goals, and how much time you devote to it. It could be as simple as collecting as many types of zuchinni as you can, and simply saving seeds from the best plants, as you freely let them cross together. without even thinking of it, this would be much more powerful then what happens when you save seeds alone.

  It all depends on your goals and what genetics you start with though.
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:
stable as in what? for insects?

You can breed in many different ways. It all depends on your goals, and how much time you devote to it. It could be as simple as collecting as many types of zuchinni as you can, and simply saving seeds from the best plants, as you freely let them cross together. without even thinking of it, this would be much more powerful then what happens when you save seeds alone.

  It all depends on your goals and what genetics you start with though.


yes insects.  they wrecked havoc on the squash last yr.  so keep seeds from those plants that seem to stand up to the bugs better.  each yr in theory  the plants will become more resistant??
 
                                              
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Dead Rabbit wrote:
yes insects.   they wrecked havoc on the squash last yr.   so keep seeds from those plants that seem to stand up to the bugs better.   each yr in theory  the plants will become more resistant??


Yes if any plants show signs they were hit less then the others then continually saving seeds from those will help, the longer you do it, the more it will help. Its how things evolve.

Your MUCH more likely to get success if you start out with yellow squash from many sources. Because over the years the recessives will stack up in different ways.... With zukes, and yellow squash it shouldnt be to hard to do that actually,(since theres lots of varieties with the same basic traits of a yellow squash or zuke) presuming some of them have those compounds, and most do actually just in very small amounts.

 
 
Rita Vail
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Location: Northwest
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silverseeds - what is the gardening forum that trades seed?
 
                                              
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http://alanbishop.proboards.com/index.cgi

Lots of breeders and such here to. but theres NO judgments there. gardeners of any mindset are welcomed. you should have little problem finding lots of folks with divergent lines for many types of projects. Or someone that could tell you where to get it.

bakers creeks forum has lots of trading going on to, but its a bit more commercial oriented, where as this forum I linked is more practicality oriented. Lots of nice folks, lots of interesting info.

your more likely to have people give you seeds then want to trade you for them.
 
Rita Vail
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Location: Northwest
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silverseeds - You have been really helpful. I just now checked with Baker Creek. I have gotten seed there before, as I am in NW Arkansas, and they have some old varieties. That was a good tip.
 
                                              
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RitaSparrow wrote:
silverseeds - You have been really helpful. I just now checked with Baker Creek. I have gotten seed there before, as I am in NW Arkansas, and they have some old varieties. That was a good tip.


well I meant the forums there for trading but thats good to. If buying them is an option check out that seeds list i put up. you could probably find 50 varieties with the same basic traits if you wanted. you could feasibly get a good genepool going and passively do a project that could help tons of gardeners.

which things are you wanting to breed? I can check my stash and see if I have any thing to offer the project. Id love to see more folks breeding even in passive ways.
 
Rita Vail
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Only squash. What I am raising seed from this year (that I overwintered) is two kales, celery and cilantro. I planted a lot of lettuce and potatoes, and I will plant beans. That's about it for this year, as I will need to finish remodeling. I depend on my garden sometimes for most of what I eat when the money isn't coming in.

Seed I saved - moon and star watermelon, Kentucky wonders, persimmon, unknown cuke from neighbor who raved about it

Also endive, carrots and beets. almost forgot. maybe still forgetting. oh yeah cukes, watermelon. I only have about 30 feet by 20 feet.

Gotta work now. It's been fun.
 
John Polk
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The squash bug's preference is C. pepo, and C. mixta is second choice.  Their least favorites are in the C. moschata family.  Do not leave squash debris in the garden after harvest, as they will overwinter in it.  Earlier plantings will provide stronger plants to withstand the emergence of the critters early in the season.  Row covers will deter them if their eggs are not in the soil beneath the plants...one of the reasons for crop rotatations.
 
Brenda Groth
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you might dip some tadpoles out of a local pond when they are getting their rear legs forming, and put them in a small pond, kiddie pool, whatever..sunk into the garden in a shady spot so it doesn't go dry..they'll be frogs in no time.
 
Chris Holcombe
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Location: Zone 8b Portland
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I've heard that this squash is immune: http://www.seedsavers.org/Details.aspx?itemNo=1359
Here's what the seed savers exchange member said:

110 days, Simply the best winter squash!! We have had squash last more than one year, still perfectly edible! Huge yields, good taste, texture, color, immune to vine borers. Most productive and dependable winter squash I have ever grown.

That's the reason I'm trying it this year.  My squashes were destroyed last year by borers. 
 
Travis Halverson
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Just returned one of ruth stout's books to the library last week so I cannot get the proper quote.  In one paragraph she mentioned how she dusts her vines with wood ash to deter borers.

http://www.amazon.com/Gardening-Without-Work-Aging-Indolent/dp/1558216545/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1304181622&sr=8-2

I'll try it this season.  Cucumber beetles were eating whatever vine I had planted.  Sometimes I drunk seed and cannot remember what I put where.
 
Tabatha Mic
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Location: North Central Mississippi
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Totally by accident I discovered an easy, no pesticide way of controlling squash bugs.
Check the leaves & stems for eggs & squash them. I just pull off a small chunk of the leaf & mash it. Spray any nymphs with soapy water. Yes, regular old soap. It kills wasps too, deader than dead. DH fills a super soaker with soapy water to get rid of the gigantic red wasps around our doors & windows. Knocks them down like the cans of spray, for real. I've used dish soap, hand soap and homemade lye soap.

Now the adult squash bugs are wiley and they'll hide in the mulch and down under the leaves and so avoid the soapy water. They HAVE to be drenched to kill them. However, if you flood the base of your plant with water, the stoopid things climb up onto the leaves where you can grab em & squash em or spray them with the soapy water. It kills them just the same, they just hide so they don't get sprayed.
I do have bush zucs, so not sure how they hide on running squashes. But all I did was direct the water hose to the base of the plant and out they climbed.

Here's a really good link on this, I haven't noticed any adverse effects on my plants and I have sprayed with soap for a while now. I really try to use a combination of hand picking, water hosing & soap spray as my main protection against most insects.
http://www.ext.colostate.edu/Pubs/insect/05547.html

For borers, cut a slit in the stem & pull out the bug or even just squish it inside the stem. Then go a little beyond where the borer was and bury the stem in a bit of soil, the squash will survive & make new roots. Just keep checking back and if another one gets it, do it again. Kinda like rooting a plant by layering.
ETA: A Little more info
 
Becky Pinaz
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Location: Maricopa, AZ
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RitaSparrow wrote:
Wow. I finally googled the problem and found lots of info. Here's one good one from ATTRA. I should have thought of ATTRA. They are a treasure trove - http://www.attra.org/attra-pub/squash_pest.html


Thank you for the link to ATTRA. I've never heard of this site and it looks like a treasure trove of info!
 
Mike Turner
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Cultivars of Cucurbita moschata have a solid stem and are naturally resistant to borers.  I grow Seminole squash/pumpkin, which is a wild selection of moschata grown by the Seminoles in Florida, and in my experience has never been bothered by borers and is minimally bothered by squash bugs.  I've given up trying to grow Cucurbita maxima cultivars such as Hubbard, since the local borers and squash bugs kill it before it gets old enough to start flowering.  The harvested Seminole fruit easily store for a year in the root cellar. 

The usual summer squash cultivars will usually produce a few fruit before getting killed by the borers, so I get most of my "summer squash" harvest from Lagenaria edible gourd cultivars, which aren't bothered by borers but from which I have to handpick squash bugs to keep their numbers under control.
 
                              
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The kids and I were hand picking squash bugs when they made an interesting observation.  "ad if you squish them they smell like apple jolly rachers"  Yep they do. Going to mix them up with water in the blender and make a spray.  See if they are afraid of the smell of their dead buddies.  Its goofy fun if nothing else.
 
Roses are red. Violets are blue. Some poems rhyme. But this is a tiny ad:

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