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Vegetable Gardening: What is eating the pollen from my squash flowers?

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daves_not_here
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9b)

June 1, 2012
9:42 AM

Post #9147669

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.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Thumbnail by daves_not_here
Click the image for an enlarged view.

kittriana

kittriana
Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 1, 2012
1:57 PM

Post #9147974

Seen that cocoon before, dont remember what was in it tho- post over onthe hummingbird and butterfly forum, they are better at this

NicoleC

NicoleC
Madison, AL
(Zone 7b)

June 1, 2012
2:34 PM

Post #9148040

The cocoon is a praying mantis egg case. Nice shot!

kittriana

kittriana
Magnolia, TX
(Zone 8b)

June 1, 2012
2:41 PM

Post #9148061

That's it! Umm, aren't they good guys tho?
MaryMcP
Phoenix, AZ
(Zone 9b)

June 1, 2012
4:30 PM

Post #9148224

Yup. Those a good guys, keep 'em happy.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 2, 2012
8:50 AM

Post #9148924

Lizards like to eat flowers, but they usually eat the whole flower, not just the pollen.

I suspect the culprit is some kind of beetle, but I could be wrong.

How large are the holes?
daves_not_here
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9b)

June 2, 2012
9:28 AM

Post #9148962

About the diameter of a quarter.

I might have to bag the flowers to protect the pollen. I have some netting that is fairly fine. Or maybe some chain mail armor.

I know in Florida the Iguanas that have moved in are not welcome because they eat garden flowers. At least some of the lizards/geckos native to this area eat mainly insects and spiders.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

June 2, 2012
11:31 AM

Post #9149142

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!

http://www.wildflorida.com/wildlife/lizards/Brown_Anole.php
daves_not_here
Las Vegas, NV
(Zone 9b)

June 3, 2012
12:17 PM

Post #9150371

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!
Horseshoe
Efland, NC
(Zone 7a)

June 3, 2012
6:46 PM

Post #9150816

dave (not here)...

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.

Shoe
MaypopLaurel
Cleveland,GA/Atlanta, GA
(Zone 7b)

June 3, 2012
7:47 PM

Post #9150944

Cucumber beetles (striped & spotted) love squash blossoms. They can wreck your plants.

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