Friday, June 24, 2011

Squish, Squash, Applesauce...

I am fighting a losing battle right now. My yellow squash, zucchini, and volunteer winter squash are under attack from all sides. I will continue to harvest what I can and hope for the best in the late varieties I have planted. From the roots to the stems, to the leaves, all my squash is affected in some way. I thought I would post about some of the insects that are causing me a ton of problems this year so folks can see what they look like. As far as how to get rid of them, I am using the brute force. When I see something eating my plants, I kill it! Kill it! Kill it!!!!

Early in the growing season, you might have problems with cut worms. I think I may be having some issues with cut worms right now with my pumpkins, but am in a wait and see mode. If more of my seedlings die, I will know I have an issue. The way cut worms work: they wrap around the base of the stem of a seedling and cut it off at the source. They munch around the stem until the plant just falls over dead leaving a tiny stem sticking out of the ground.

Squash bugs are what most people call stink bugs - they lay their eggs on the leaves (both front and back) and stems of your squash. When they hatch, the voraciously devour your squash and squash leaves. Remedy: Squish the mating bugs and scrape off their eggs. This may not always work. These are pesky little buggers. The babies are small blue things that grow into great big gray stink bugs.



I am also having issues with the Squash Lady Bird Beetle. These look like larger versions of your typical Lady Bird Beetle (Lady Bugs) with lots of rows of spots.

Their coloration and similar spotty appearance to their beneficial carnivorous cousins fooled me this year. I thought they were after the stink bugs. They were really after my squash leaves! Their babies were voraciously consuming my winter squash plants today. Yellow, fuzzy, and kind of cute... After I took some pretty pictures of the cute little evil things, I squished them flat... Check out the damage they did to my poor plants:

Then I discovered yet another victim... This time not just the leaves, but the whole plant. I have had really poor luck with zucchini this year and I am only harvesting a few from one large healthy plant that is producing smaller than last year fruit. I had another stunted plant with a few small zucchini on it, but found its base brown, slimy, and nearly completely chewed through. I pulled up the plant and began examining the cause of the problem. Found lots of tiny black opportunistic beetles, some small mites and this:

Don't see it? Here... Let me coax him out of his hole for you:

Ugh! This guy is the larva of a Squash Vine Borer. I have not seen momma, but I did lose a few plants earlier in the month to the same type of rotted stem. They are apparently not a wasp, as I had found in my research earlier, but a clear winged moth! Kind of cool, when they aren't eating my squash. Anything that wiggled or crawled within this stem is now dead, dead, dead!

Not all the crawling things in my garden are vile and destructive. I did see some "real" lady bugs, a mantis, and this really pretty writing spider:

It is tiny right now, but I am hoping it is a she spider who might leave a nice egg sack somewhere in my garden for next year. I'll keep a very close watch on her and make sure she stays safe, nestled among my tomato vines and corn. Really hoping to see more of her brothers and sisters hanging about my garden soon!

Other beautiful things in my garden right now:

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  1. I feel your pain...those pests are my pests too.

  2. I ended up killing off the rest of the squash and starting fresh. Though those infernal lady bird beetles are now attacking my cantaloupe!!