Cluckers · growing · Growing the Goods

The war on squash bugs!

I have officially declared war on squash bugs. After coming home after a two week vacation in Oregon and finding almost all my pumpkin and squash dead, I’ve decided they have to go. 

I’m a live and let live kind of person. I hate killing anything even if it’s a pest. As long as no damage is being done I leave alone. But now it’s time to do something.

I started off my garden season allowing some of my smaller chickens and some baby turkeys into the garden space in hopes that they would eat all they pests. I planted companion plants like Borage and Marigolds to help deter harmful bugs and until a month ago it was working perfectly.

There had not been a single tomato worm, cabbage worm or beetle. Grasshoppers have been problematic but no match for my birds. Those pesky little squash bugs are a completely different story.

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Adolescent squash bug and dying leaves

Squash bugs not only feed on plants’ leaves but they will also go after the vegetables. Their saliva is toxic to the plants which is why the leaves start to turn yellow and die. You can easily spot an infestation on the plants by the leaves. They start to turn yellow and brittle and eventually die off.

After losing half of my plants I have spent hours in my garden on the hunt, armed with nothing more than some duck tape.

First I start where the infestations are. Just make a little loop with the duck tape and just stick the bugs to the tape. That way you don’t have to manually squish them which really grosses me out. The babies, adolescents and adults stick right to the tape and cannot escape.

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No escape

After my battle with the bugs, I go through the leaves and remove the eggs. This is really easy. Easy to spot, easy to stick. The eggs are usually hiding on the bottom of the leaves or around the steams. Occasionally they will be sitting right in the tops. wp-image-256408536jpg.jpg

Gently just dab the eggs with the tape and they come right off. Some leaf might come with it and that’s unfortunate collateral damage. The plants will make a pretty quick come back.

This isn’t a “one and done” kind of project. As with most organic gardening it’s consistent work. I go out every other day, duck tape in hand, and do a sweep through my plants. I have a pretty large garden and it doesn’t take long, a few hours a week.

It has made a difference. I have not lost another plant to these pesky little creatures and I am determined to not loose any more. Next year the live and let live card is off the table and a new roll of duck tape will have a permanent home in with the garden tools.

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