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June 9, 2018
I seem to get squash bugs every year on my squash and zucchini plants. Is there anything
I can put on the plants to prevent this? I usually reach for Sevin Dust when I see
the first one, but it doesn’t really kill them and to be honest, I’m not thrilled
about using this poison on edibles; however, if I don’t use something I won’t have
Squash bugs multiply quickly and are difficult to kill the older they get. Early
detection is important. Watch for their eggs which they lay in clusters on the leaves.
Rub them off so they don’t hatch. If you start to see signs of them, put out traps—rinds
of melons attract them overnight and you can get out early and throw them away.
We are planning our summer garden and always have problems with squash vine borers
or beetles destroying our otherwise healthy, productive summer squash and zucchini
plants. Our only recourse seems to be replanting and hope they don't attack the new
plants. Is there a way to prevent them from attacking the plants in the first place?
While some squash vine borers may be overwintering in your garden to come back and
attack, the adults seem to find even new squash plantings. Two things you can do to
help prevent injury. One monitor for the adults—they look somewhat like a wasp with
orange bodies. You can try trapping them—they are attracted to the color yellow. You
can buy traps or make your own using a shallow pan of water painted yellow—an old
plastic yellow butter tub works well. They fly in and drown. When you see the adults
you can use an insecticide at the soil line, but it needs replenishing when it gets
washed off and you need to be careful not to hurt your pollinators. If you plant using
transplants, you can wrap the stems lightly that go into the ground with aluminum
foil to act as a barrier for the boring larvae or if grown from seed, once established,
pull back the soil and lightly wrap the exposed trunk with foil.
We plant corn in our garden every year, but the worms get it before we do. How can
we keep the worms out of the ears of the corn? They just ruin all of our corn every
Corn earworms are destructive to an ear of corn. When you see the silks beginning
to form, that is when you need to take action. You can sprinkle a little Sevin dust
on the silks every few days, or what I think is easier (and safer for our bees), is
to put a drop or two of mineral oil right on the silk once a week until the silks
turn brown. The oil acts as a physical barrier and keeps the worms out. Don’t get
heavy handed and pour a bunch of oil in, or it can affect kernel set. Typically there
is only one earworm per ear of corn, since these caterpillars are cannibalistic, and
eat each other as well as the corn. Occasionally you will have two—one on each side—they
just don’t know the other one is there!
Each year I have tiny, black pests on the leaves of vegetables in my garden. They
cause damage to my plants and are difficult and expensive to try to control. They
are so tiny, they are almost invisible to the naked eye. You almost need a magnifying
glass. I can only see them if I cut off some leaves and shake the leaves on a piece
of white paper. Then I can see the tiny black dots move around. What are they and
how do I control them?
The most common insect in the garden is aphids. They can range in color from black,
red, green or yellow. They are small and tend to congregate near new growth or in
the joints of leaves. Flea beetles are also small, but tend to jump with vigor when
disturbed. Spider mites are really tiny but tend to be reddish in color. If aphids
are the culprit, they can be controlled with a strong spray of water, insecticidal
soap or Malathion. Be sure to follow label directions as to timing and harvesting.
For a definitive diagnosis of the insect, take some into your local county extension