“How can I prevent the squash vine borer” is one of the most frequent questions I get from students in my class and my garden clients. One day you see a vine full of blooms and growing squash.
Three days later it’s all wilted down and you think it needs to be watered. But it doesn’t take long to realize that’s not the problem at all. No amount of water or fertilizer will fix this. The squash vine borer moth laid her eggs on the base of your plant without you even know it.
It doesn’t take long for the eggs to hatch and the larvae to emerge, make their way into the stalk of your plant and eat it’s way through, destroying the plant as a result.
So how can you lessen the probability this will happen? I tell my students that pest control starts the minute you plant that squash seed, or place your squash plant into the ground. You can’t wait, or it will be too late.
- Interplant flowers and herbs that attract beneficial insects such as the parasitic wasp. It is the natural enemy of the squash vine borer:
- Dill: This herb is a good host plant for many parasitic wasps, especially those that attack caterpillars. The tiny flowers of dill provide nectar for adult wasps.
- Queen Anne’s Lace: This wildflower attracts parasitic wasps that attack aphids and other small insects. The white flowers provide nectar and pollen for adult wasps.
- Yarrow: This plant attracts parasitic wasps that attack aphids, mealybugs, and other small insects. The flat clusters of tiny flowers provide nectar and pollen for adult wasps.
- Alyssum: This low-growing annual plant is a good source of nectar for many beneficial insects, including parasitic wasps that attack aphids and other small insects.
- Marigold: This colorful annual plant attracts parasitic wasps that attack whiteflies and other small insects. The bright yellow or orange flowers provide nectar for adult wasps.
I plant dill, sweet alyssum and marigold directly in my garden bed and yarrow is planted near my garden shed close to the garden.
Pest patrol: Be on the lookout for the squash vine borer moth shown above and kill it. Check the base of your squash vines for little brown eggs. Destroy those too.
Insect netting: Immediately cover the squash plant with insect netting to prevent the moth from laying her eggs.
Plant a late crop: The squash vine borer moth is generally finished with her egg laying duties by July. If you have a last frost date of mid -October you have enough time to grow another round of squash.
Squash vine borer moths also lay their eggs on pumpkins, so keep an eye out on those also.
Applying simple steps to your vegetable garden to minimize pests can make a big difference in the success of your garden, and minimize the time you have to maintain it. It can be very discouraging to plant your garden, only to see it fall prey to pests. Gardening is supposed to be fun, not a chore! It’s tips like these that I share in my “No Fuss Garden ” course. The doors are open, and our monthly video lessons begin April 15th. Join me as we make growing our own fresh, organic vegetables easy and fun.
Click on the link below to enroll. Questions? and comment on this post and I will be happy to answer.
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