The New Home Economics

And now, squash vine borers

7 Comments

Well, that’s it. I’m pretty much ready to throw in the towel on 2011’s garden. It’s been one thing after another around here — thank goodness I don’t have to actually sustain my family on this garden because we’d be facing one lean winter. Earlier this week I noticed my squash and pumpkin vines were looking a little wilty. Then today they seemed a LOT wilty:

I could see this little guy from several feet away:

squash vine borer

It’s a squash vine borer. This is my first experience with them. We ended up pulling out ALL of the squash and pumpkin plants. So depressing. They were full of these little worms. I didn’t dare compost them, so we bagged everything up and threw it in the garbage.

The good news: these borers do not attack cucumber plants, so hopefully my pickle crop is still safe.

U of M Extension has some really great info on preventing squash vine borers.  Among the ideas:

You can physically exclude adult borers by placing floating row covers over your vine crops when they start to vine (or for non-vining varieties, starting late June or early July) or when you first detect squash vine borer adults. Keep the barriers in place for about two weeks after the first adult borer has been seen. Be sure the row covers are securely anchored to prevent adults from moving underneath it.

Caution: Generally do not use floating row covers anytime crops are flowering. This prevents bees from pollinating your vegetables…

My favorite garden pest book suggested pulling out all the diseased parts, squashing every worm you find, then pushing the healthy part of the vine into the soil and piling some compost on top in hopes that it will send out roots and maybe (maybe) I’ll have a chance of still getting a pumpkin.  I tried it with one really healthy-looking vine, but I’ll be surprised if it works.

Well, there’s always next year I guess.  Here’s a picture of the adult, for future reference:

adult squash vine borer

I never saw these guys in late June, but they look a bit like boxelder bugs — which we had A LOT of, so they probably just blended right in.

First time I’ve tried to grow pumpkins and squash, and it was a fail. Really, maybe I’ll just plant my entire garden with garlic, chamomile, and mint next year. Fail-proof, right?

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7 thoughts on “And now, squash vine borers

  1. Darn bugs! Thanks for the photo of the adult culprits, and the Extension tips.

  2. Silly buggies! BTW thanks so much for the blog. It is so fantastic to tune into another mother whose working fulltime and committed to actualizing these principals in her life. After moving into our first home two years ago, my husband and I have been slowly trying to do the same, though at a snails pace thanks to a bought with breast cancer. However, now that we’re on the other side of that struggle, we’re keeping bees, back to baking and canning, pull together a little gardening, etc. Your blog is a great inspiration so MANY THANKS!

    • Wow! Thanks Amy! Nice to hear from a fellow working mom. 🙂 I want to try bee-keeping somewhere in the near future.

  3. Boo bugs!

    My squash vines have been looking a little strange too >> i’m going to have to check for these bugs! GRRRR.

  4. Jennifer – you may want to consider an application of beneficial nematodes next spring to ward off the borers. They’re endemic to our backyard as well, and while I’ve not gone the IPM route, it’s worth a shot.

    • I’ve never tried nematodes, though I noticed them at Mother Earth Gardens this spring. Might be worth a shot. This has really been a year for pests, hasn’t it!?

  5. I’m dealing with these damn squash borer’s for the second year down here in central Texas and I’ll tell you what works for me. When I see that “saw dust” around the base of the vine I split the vine with a knife, pull out the grub, feed it to the chickens, bury the vine and less than 50% of the time it’ll survive. It really seems to depend on how strong the vine was before the borer gets to it. If it puts down roots from other parts of the vine than it’ll live for awhile. BT doesn’t seems to work very well as a preventative in my experience.

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