Does your vegetable garden include squash, pumpkins, or cucumber? Then, you should beware of squash bugs. These garden pests are known to attack the leaves of these plants, leaving the plants wilted or stunted and eventually dead, especially if the plants are still in their young stage. Squash bugs are best controlled by incorporating different pest control methods, including the use of insecticides.
How to Identify Squash Bugs
Squash bugs are large bugs that are gray-black in color. They measure about 1/3 of an inch and have piercing mouthparts they use to suck the sap from plant tissues. Adult squash bugs have wings that have brown or orange stripes on the cover. These pests are normally seen crawling along the stems and leaves of the plants.
On the other hand, squash bug nymphs are in much smaller size, measuring about a few centimeters only. They have bodies with light gray color and small black legs that they use in crawling across plants. Wings are developed only when they are in their adult stage. Additionally, nymphs in their very early stage are green in color, which gradually darken to a brownish-grey as they mature.
A squash bug egg measures about 1/16 of an inch and is bronze in color. The eggs are most often found in clusters of 20 or more lying on the underside of the leaves of the plant they’re infesting.
The Life Cycle of Squash Bugs
Just like many other garden pests, the life cycle of a squash bug includes a period of overwintering. During this period, an adult squash bug finds cover under rocks, plant debris, or other forms of shelter during the winter season. Come springtime, the squash bugs will emerge. At this point, they will now search for food and mates. When mating has been successful, the female squash bugs will lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves of squash, melon, or pumpkin plants.
The eggs of a squash bug don’t take too long to develop. In just about 10 days, clusters of eggs will hatch, releasing tiny nymphs. The nymphs will further develop and for about 4 to 6 weeks, they’ll be on their adult stage. Each year, there are numerous new generations of squash bugs that cause a serious infestation in one’s vegetable garden.
Signs of Squash Bug Infestation
The most evident sign of a squash bug infestation is the sight of the bugs themselves, be it eggs, nymphs or adults. They can be easily seen when you thoroughly examine the leaves, stems, and base of your plants. Other signs of infestation that you should look out for include:
- Yellow Vine Decline Disease: Some squash bugs can cause the yellow vine decline disease. When a bacteria-carrier squash bug sucks through the plant tissues with their mouthparts, the disease can easily be transferred. The yellow vine decline disease can lead to yellowing or wilting of the leaves or worse, death.
- Wilting Leaves: When squash bugs suck sap from the plant’s tissue, they affect the nutrient supply of the plants. Young and weak plants will wilt.
- Stunted Plants: If you observe your vegetable plants particularly pumpkins, melons, or squash crops have a slow growth rate than the normal, it is recommended to inspect the plants as they can be infested.
Removal and Preventative Procedures of Squash Bugs
To best control an infestation, early detection is a must. For squash bug infestation, it will be easier to eradicate those who are still in their young stages than adult counterparts. To get rid of squash bugs, follow the methods below:
- Keep plants properly nourished and fertilized. Healthy plants are less likely to be harmed seriously from squash bug infestation.
- Crush eggs attached to the underside of leaves: If you see squash bug eggs on the underside of the leaves of your pumpkin, squash or melon crops, make sure to not just remove them but crush them as well to prevent nymphs from hatching.
- Spray nymphs and adults with soapy water: One effective method in getting rid of squash bugs is by spraying soapy water. Additionally, this method is not hazardous, as it does not contain harmful chemicals.
Instore or Chemical Removal
There are insecticides you can easily purchase both from gardening stores and online for the treatment of squash bug infestation. This method is best implemented with the help of a pest control professional