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Connecticut Garden Journal
Connecticut Garden Journal is a weekly program hosted by horticulturalist Charlie Nardozzi. Each week, Charlie focuses on a topic relevant to both new and experienced gardeners, including pruning lilac bushes, growing blight-free tomatoes, groundcovers, sunflowers, bulbs, pests, and more.

Connecticut Garden Journal: Squash Bugs And Vine Borers

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Squash beetle eggs on the underside of a zucchini plant.

With the zucchinis coming on hot and heavy and winter squash not far behind, you might welcome some insects that prey on these cucurbits. But while squash can be overly abundant, I'd never wish squash bugs or squash vine borers on any gardener.

Squash bugs can quickly turn squash leaves and flowers into a holey mess. These grey bugs congregate on the underside of squash leaves eventually killing them. They can quickly decimate your plants. 

I've found the best way to control them is to check every few days under the squash leaves for groups of their copper colored eggs. Squish them by hand or take duct tape and run the sticky side over the eggs to peel them away from the leaves.

You can also place boards between rows to collect bugs over night and kill them in the morning. Also spray Neem oil on the young nymphs and clean up garden debris in the fall.

Squash vine borers are devious. The adult fly lays eggs on the squash stems near the soil line. The resulting caterpillar tunnels into the squash stem, eating its way to the tip. The leaves wilt easily and eventually whole stems die.

To prevent squash vine borer damage plant in July, cover new plants with floating row covers to prevent egg laying. Once flowering, remove the row cover and check for holes in the stems. If found, use a razor to slit the stem going away from the base until you find the white, wormy bugger. Remove the caterpillar and cover the stem with soil so it heals and re-roots.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about Rose of Sharon. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.

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