Sunday, May 23, 2010

Squash Vine Borer Eggs

Yellow crookneck squash. Along with tomatoes and cucumbers, it is one of the foods that just says summer. If all goes well, then you are putting baskets full of squash in the break room at work just to get rid of the stuff. But if your vines are attacked by the hated squash vine borer, then you are kicking yourself wondering why it won't grow for you.

My battle with squash vine borers started last year. They ruined my squash, zucchini, and cucumbers. This year, I've done lots of research, and I am fighting back. I found a great post from a gardener in Texas who keeps a wonderful gardening blog called Rock Rose. She's been documenting her fight with the vine borers, and because her plants are about a month ahead of mine, I am learning what to do ahead of time. She's even found a squash vine borer moth in the act of laying eggs!

So, how do these awful bugs kill squash? A full grown larva or pupa will overwinter in the soil one to two inches below the soil surface. The larva pupates in the spring, and the orange and black moth emerges from the soil and lays eggs on the stems of squash plants. One to two weeks later, the larva hatches and quickly bores into the stems of the squash plant. They usually leave a trail of orange sawdust-like frass at the entry point. Inside the hollow stems of the squash plant, the larva feeds for 14 to 30 days before exiting the stem to pupate in the soil. In Mississippi, there can be up to two vine borer generations per year. Ew!

My fight this year starts with removing the eggs. I found and smooshed five eggs earlier this week and two more today. To show you how small there are, I left a piece of pine straw in the second photo. I've read that these eggs are only 1/32 of an inch!


Casey said...

I don't have any edible plants in my garden yet but this morning I did find some white aphids on my coral honeysuckle. I wasn't sure what they were but I researched it online. Let me know if you have any experience there. Kinda puts a damper on the gardening process!

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

I've heard about the problems they can cause. I guess we're lucky not to have them here. I read about another blogger (Tina at In the Garden) that would remove the borers and then somehow tape the vines back up. I think she had some success doing that. Good luck getting rid of them!

Lisa Blair said...

Casey, I get aphids on my roses all the time. I usually just smoosh as many of them as I can with gloved fingers. Kinda gross, but it works! You can then just hose off your plant with a strong stream of water.

I've heard of spraying the leaves with insecticidal soap, too, but I've never tried it.

Lisa Blair said...

Casey, you should check out the post Catherine just put up to see how she controls the aphids. Pretty cool!

Ginger said...

Wow - good call on smooshing the eggs! I'll have to check my spaghetti squash plants for them. I gave up on summer squash after borers destroyed 3 plantings in a row without me getting a single squash. Supposedly winter squash aren't as susceptible - we'll see.