Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Squash Bugs

Anasa tristis: squash bug
So yesterday I told you all about hornworms.    Well, let me tell you, hornworms are nothing compared to squash bugs. 

I really hate squash bugs.   They multiply faster than snowflakes and do just as much damage to my squash.  

The vigilance with which I guard my tomatoes from hornworms is nothing compared to the vigilance with which I watch for and guard my squash from squashbugs.   Nothing, I tell you.

There are only two ways to control this pest:   1.  by spraying awful chemicals that are illegal for me to have and that I wouldn't want anywhere near this place anyway.   or 2.  By hand picking and squishing the adults and by finding the eggs and taking them off and destroying them.  

It's war.

Unfortunately, my adversary is wily.  

It hides.   And it lays eggs everywhere.

OK.  Not everywhere.  Just on the underside of every squash leaf it can find.    I have a lot of squash leaves.   It's not like I can hide them.  Squash bugs find them all. 

See the dark triangle on the underside of this squash leaf?   It's a squash bug egg cluster.   I hunt for them every day.    Under every leaf. 

Yes. 

Every.   Day. 

Every.  Leaf.

Last year I didn't, and I had squash bugs everywhere.   It was awful.   This year I promised I wouldn't let it get that bad.   So I hunt them every day under every leaf.  

Yes, it's a pain.   But being overrun by squash bugs is a much worse pain.   

Once I find the egg clusters, I pinch off that part of the leaf.   It leaves a hole, but a hole is better than a herd of squash bugs.  

Baby squash bugs look like little spiders with blue-ish white bodies.   They hang out together, but scatter when disturbed.   Luckily, they're soft bodied and easy to squish.  [see photos of baby squash bugs]


This year they especially love my pumpkins.   Some of the leaves are getting very holey.

I drown the eggs in a bucket of water and then let the ducks eat them.  

New eggs are light gold.   The older the eggs are, the darker they get.   Eggs that are very dark brown are almost ready to hatch.   

These squash bugs were fornicating right out in the open.   

Eww.

If they had been allowed to finish [and they weren't], the female would have found a cozy place under the leaf in the V of a leaf vein and laid a bunch of eggs. 

Instead, they suffered a different fate.  

My chickens are happy. 

The very good news this year is that all of my vigilance has totally paid off.   I have way fewer squash bugs this year because I've been taking care of the eggs as I find them.  

5 comments:

  1. We missed most of the pinching off while we were away on vacation and now it's a bit too late. It's like a horror movie. :-/

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  2. What a horrible little creature! I love pumpkins!!

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  3. These guys don't even have the good sense to grow up purty, like the moths do. But then again, neither did I. Godspeed in your buggy battles.

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  4. Hopefully my extra vigilance this year will mean fewer adults that overwinter next year. Fingers crossed!

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  5. Now it's my turn to become a vigilante and get rid of some of these pests! I had to pick my acorn squash early because it was being eaten! But, I didn't know how to take care of some of the bugs. Squash bugs, tonight may be your last!

    --I love how so many of your garden posts are timed just right for me. Thanks for all the recipes and garden helps!

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