[Market-farming] squash bug control

jay sleichter jaysleichter at yahoo.com
Thu Nov 5 10:01:54 EST 2009

I agree with Bill plant early and late. I also use the mentallity that I am going to lose some to the bugs, so I just plant more than I need.  Also, plant as far away from where you planted the previous year.  I move my patches of squash around alot. As far as to get an early crop, I planted parthenocarpic zucchini in my high tunnel.  I had it for a month before anyone else had summer squash. I probably could have had it earlier, but I didn't want to push the planting window this spring.  It produce wonderfully.  I had good early sales at a higher price before the market was flooded with zucchini.  By the time the market was flooded, I had different/unique varieties that were growing outside that I was able to get a higher price for. I will do this again next year too.

I was going to plant a fall crop and cover it with row cover, but I planted spinach instead. I was happy with the spinach.  One person can only eat so many zucchini.

--- On Thu, 11/5/09, Road's End Farm <organic87 at frontiernet.net> wrote:

From: Road's End Farm <organic87 at frontiernet.net>
Subject: Re: [Market-farming] squash bug control
To: "Market Farming" <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date: Thursday, November 5, 2009, 8:50 AM

On Nov 4, 2009, at 11:36 PM, Diane Kunkel wrote:

> 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

I've never had a significant problem with squash bugs in zucchini; only in winter squash (though in the process of looking up the picture linked below, I discover that apparently others have). Two or three questions, and a couple of fast suggestions:

What variety of zucchini are you growing? Have you tried different varieties?

Are you sure we mean the same thing by squash bugs?


If you're growing zucchini as a home gardener, you've probably only got a couple of plants to deal with. Can you hand pick the bugs off? Dump them in a container full of soapy water, or squash them as you pick them. Check for eggs under the leaves (picture of eggs also at link above) and squash the eggs.

You could use row cover till female blossoms appear; but squash need insect pollination, so at that point you'd need to either remove the row cover, or hand pollinate the fruit; the latter would be a significant nuisance, though maybe not on a home garden scale.

I grow a number of varieties of summer squash, and plant radish inbetween every few squash hills; partly as a variety separator, and partly because it's supposed to be insect repellent (you don't harvest the radish, you let them sit there and go to seed). You could try planting some radish -- I don't know whether or not that's why I'm not getting the problem.

The Johnny's catalogue lists Diatect, a pyrethin and diatomaceous earth combination, as effective against squash bugs and, to the best of their knowledge, organically permissible. They also list a liquid rotenone-pyrethrin- piperonyl butoxide mix as effective against the nymph stage; that would not be acceptable for organic certification, but some home gardeners are still using these mixes. (I haven't checked other catalogues, Johnny's just came first to hand. There may be other things out there, and there are certainly other sources.)

I would try the controls above first -- experiment with different varieties; plant some radish when you plant the squash; row cover the squash till female flowers appear; handpick and destroy eggs and bugs; and then try the Diatect if none of that works.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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