Gardening is one of the most rewarding activities that you can do to pass the time. You get to enjoy the freshest fruits and vegetables once the harvesting season comes. For those of you who prefer fast-growing vegetables, squash can be a perfect choice.
Squashes are definitely among the most delicious vegetables that are easy to grow. They can also produce high yields, so beginners always want to try to grow them.
However, since squash is planted outside directly on the ground, you will have to deal with soil-related pests such as squash vine borers. Hence it is essential for you to learn how to prevent squash vine borers from ruining your precious plants!
They can be quite tricky and devastating if you let them be.
Fortunately, even if you are new to gardening, you don’t have to worry about it because we’ve got your back! We will provide you with an easy-to-understand guide on how to deal with those annoying pests!
Vine borers are natural enemies to squash and pumpkins. To effectively prevent them from infecting your squash plants, we must first understand the vine borers’ characteristics.
The following knowledge will help you to learn how to prevent squash vine borers from damaging your squash plants!
Squash Vine Borers Lifecycle
The squash vine borers are the most common insects that damage your squash and pumpkins. Understanding the lifecycle of squash vine borers is an essential step to preventing them from hindering your gardening hobby.
Squash vine borer is an insect that goes through a phase of growth as a moth and larvae. Your plant will start to get damaged when the borer has reached its larvae phase.
The larvae need to take a lot of nutrition supply before pupating, borrowing themselves into the soil. It is a ferocious eater and can destroy your pumpkin quickly.
The larvae-feeding period happens for four to six weeks. Once the larvae burrow into the ground and become cocoons, they will remain there until emerging as adult squash vine borers in late June or early July.
Meanwhile, adult moths are about 0.5 inches long with orange body colors and a pair of metallic green wings. They are active during the day, and their appearance resembles a wasp. In this phase, they lay their eggs on the ground at the base of susceptible plants.
The eggs are about 0.04 inches in length, brown-colored and flat-shaped. They hatch into larvae in a week, and so the cycle goes.
Squash Vine Borer Damage
The early sign of squash vine borer damage can be observed when the plants are wilting. One single plant is usually attacked by several squash borers.
If we look closer at the wilting parts, they may have multiple holes filled with greenish or orange sawdust-like material called frass.
Leaves that yellowing can also be a sign of larvae feeding. If this happens continuously, it will cause the plant to rot.
Simply, squash vine borers’ eggs before they can turn into larvae or caterpillars that dig tunnels into stems. The hole caused by them can cause the vine to wilt. If left unchecked, these larvae can make it to the fruit and vegetable and possibly cause the harvest to fail. Very unfortunate, isn’t it?
The explanation above seems enough to make you aware of how vine borer eggs may cause severe damage to squash plants in your garden. Now that you know how the vine borer damages plants and the life cycle of this pest, you will have an easier time stopping them!
Read Also : How to Protect Zucchini from Pests
How to Prevent Squash Vine Borers?
Based on the squash borer life cycle, we can choose to stop this pest at the point where they are still larvae, cocoons, moths, or eggs.
Deciding the proper way to stop them is also determined by what type of signs make you sure the squash borer invades your plants. Whether you notice the moths flying around your garden, find your plant stem wilting, or notice some suspicious microscopic brown drops at the base of the plants.
They aren’t easy to prevent and challenging to control. However, taking proper steps and caution can save your plants from catastrophic damage.
#1 Use traps that attract the moths
Did you know that adult squash vine borers are attracted to yellow? You can take advantage of this behavior by setting a yellow trap in your garden.
Remember that the moths emerge in late June to early July. During that time, place a yellow container filled with water and a drop of dish soap. Check the container daily to see if any borer falls into the trap.
Please note that this method is only for detection. If you find a borer on your trap, it may have already been too late, and some eggs might have been laid. Further action may be needed.
#2 Grow companion plants that naturally repel squash vine borers
You can plant nasturtium flowers as companions for repelling squash vine borers.
The scents of this flower repel whiteflies, squash bugs, and aphids. The air emitted by nasturtium flowers can protect themselves and the plants around them from bugs. Apart from repelling bugs, these flowers can be a pleasing addition to your garden view.
#3 Use row covers as a barrier
Squash vine borers spend the winter in the soil near the plants. Placing a row cover around the plant’s ground may trap the borer underneath and prevent the squash bugs from emerging out.
This row covers also prevent the larvae from climbing to the stem after hatching from eggs on the base soil plants.
#4 Directly remove squash borers from the infected part
Suppose your plants are still attacked by squash borer after taking those preventive steps. Look for the stem holes with droppings on one of the sides, then slit the stem vertically to locate the borer.
Then kill the borer directly inside that stem. You can plant the stem cuts if the damaged part is not critical.
When Do Squash Vine Borers Lay Eggs?
Squash vine borers start laying off eggs from mid-June to early July. To avoid them, you can begin planting your squash earlier.
Therefore, you may harvest your squash before the borer’s eggs develop into larvae. Healthy adult plants are relatively more resistant to pests like squash borers.
The most useful tip to prevent squash vine borers is to schedule your planting. Knowing when the squash borer attacks your crops, you can avoid that period and harvest your vegetables without any damage. So, mark your calendar before starting to grow your plants!
The next tip is about growing parsnip! Find out how to create a bountiful garden filled with these unique white carrots only at Beagreens!