[Market-farming] squash bug control

Bill Shoemaker wshoemak at illinois.edu
Thu Nov 5 09:19:51 EST 2009

I think Squash Bug is a very difficult insect to manage in cucurbit crops. If there is a way to effectively kill it so to manage its population in a crop, I'm not sure what that technique is. 

One element of the insect that helps is that it only produces one generation per year (at least, in the north). The adults don't come out until mid-season, and it's their offspring that really do the damage. If you can get your crop in early and enhance its growth with plastic mulch, good fertility and drip irrigation, it should flower and set fruit earlier. If you're growing summer squash, you can get a good crop into market before it becomes a pest. You can also plant a late crop and cover it with row covers to exclude the insect until flowering. Hopefully you can avoid building a big population of the next generation before you have to remove the covers. So excluding the insect and offsetting timing of production are useful tools, but not silver bullets. 

If you have small plantings you might try organic pyrethrums applied strategically into the center of the plants in the evening (after bees are mostly gone). I don't think you'll hurt the adults at all, but you might find some efficacy with the juveniles, especially in their early instars. Adding soap would probably enhance the pyrethrum efficacy. 

I suspect that cleaning up debris of squash and pumpkins after cropping and composting it quickly would help avoid large populations. Good rotation of crop families might also delay the infestation of the adults in the new crops. 

If anyone knows of a barnyard critter that likes to eat this insect, I'd love to hear about it.


>Thank you Bill & Rivka for your response. I see that there is a lot to 
>be learned on my part. Now for a little more clarification. I'm not a 
>commercial grower. I'm organic by choice, not certification. And, of 
>course it is zucchini that I'm growing. So, without going the e-coli 
>route, are there any organic controls for squash bugs? Thanks again,  
>Andy  zone 5-6  Wenatchee, WA
>Market-farming mailing list
>Market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
William H Shoemaker, UI-Crop Sciences
Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
St Charles Horticulture Research Center
535 Randall Road  St Charles, IL  60174
630-584-7254; FAX-584-4610

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