This might be better posted in another forum. Not sure.
Some sort of animal is eating through the sides of the flowers on both my crook neck, and zucchini squash. They are targeting only the flowers that produce the pollen. If they eat through a female flower it is left alone. I didn't get any pictures when they were fresh, and now the damage has dried up. (it's been warm here)
I'll be spraying bt tomorrow morning, but I'd rather not spray anything that would kill my lady bugs or the praying mantises that call my yard home.
A quarter! Wow, that's rather a large hole for a beetle to make.
There is probably something native to your area that I'm not familiar with that's doing such damage. Bagging the male flowers would mean that bees could not pollinate the female flowers - unless you did it by hand, then it would not matter if the "mystery critter" ate the male flowers.
I lived in South Florida and know what you mean about the iguanas. The smaller lizards eat flowers, too. I didn't believe it until I saw a brown anole eat the entire head off a marigold!
I have to pollinate the squash by hand anyway. Had bees galore when the peach tree was flowering. Now there are none. The tomatoes are hit and miss with setting fruit. The only thing that produces reliably and unaided are chili peppers.
I was recently in Key West for my brother in law's retirement ceremony. That was his last duty station of his Naval carrier. I looked for a souvenir Iguana and couldn't find anything. There were all sorts of sea animals, geckos, and even chickens. I guess the locals don't want to glorify the iguanas. The chickens aren't native either and they are protected!
I'm just in and out these days online but from just a quick observation...
I wonder if your squash flowers are being eaten by slugs. They would do that looking for moisture. As for choosing male over female flowers I wonder if that really comes into play or is just happenstance.
"I'll be spraying bt tomorrow morning, but I'd rather not spray anything that would kill my lady bugs or the praying mantises that call my yard home."
Bt will have no effect on your ladybugs or mantids so you are safe there.
"The tomatoes are hit and miss with setting fruit. The only thing that produces reliably and unaided are chili peppers."
You mentioned bees around your peach tree and none around your squash, then posted the above statement. Tomatoes and peppers (including chili peppers) are self-pollinizing so the "hit and miss" will be due more to temperature extremes more than to lack of pollinators.
Sure hope you end up with a harvest.
Hang in there.