Landscaping & Nursery Information for Home Gardeners

Squash Bug

Squash-bug census reduction. 

In spite of every precaution and effort to control the squash bug during the growing season great numbers of adults and partly grown bugs escape and normally hibernate to become parents of new broods the following season. Destruction of these would mean fewer to start the following year and therefore greater success with the plants. Here's how: 

As soon as frost threatens in the fall gather all the squashes ripe enough to be stored or used. Remove all the immature squashes, place them in groups all over the patch and leave them until winter sets in. For several weeks they will attract squash bugs which will be found more or less thickly upon them, sucking the juices. 

Pull the vines up by the roots, throw them upon piles of dry brush and immediately burn them up. This will remove the principal source of food for the vines often continue to live for days or even weeks  after the leaves have been killed. 

In the early morning, jar the bugs off the squashes either to the ground to tramp on them or into a pail containing a few tablespoonfuls of kerosene in a quart or two of water. After each jarring replace the  squashes on the ground for a future trap and so on until no bugs are found. 

The sooner the plan is set in operation after the vines have been killed the better because the mature bugs seek hibernating quarters when they think they can stand the winter. The immature ones continue to feed until mature if the weather will permit them to do so. 

The most surprising thing about this tramping method is the enormous number of bugs that come to the immature squash traps. Though they have perhaps been fought all summer there are often thousands! 

No spray is known that will kill the adults, without killing the plants also. They may be trapped beneath bits of board near the vines but this takes time every morning. Destroying the eggs which are laid in groups on the undersides of the leaves is good as far as it goes but also takes time. The young may be killed by spraying the undersides of the leaves with 10% kerosene emulsion, pyrethrum extract or Black Leaf Forty. But in spite of all these methods many  will be missed. 

As an additional check on the census, a trap crop of summer squash may be started in a coldframe a month before the safe time to sow the seed in the open. The bugs will collect on it and may be killed  about squash planting time by spraying with pure kerosene (which will also kill the plants) or poisoned with cyanogas placed in the coldframe just before nightfall and closed in until morning. This may be repeated several times without injury to the plants which may be allowed to mature a crop of squashes. 

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