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Squash bugs and svb beware-your days are numbered

Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)

Welcome to the place where the war against squash bugs and squash vine borers never ends. I’m afraid that too many of us have become so frustrated with battling these pests that we’ve either given up or we’ve become resigned to the fact that yes, we will harvest a few squash from our garden each year but eventually our squash vines will succumb to these two scourges and there’s not too much we can do about it. I’ve recently awakened to the fact that “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” We can put men on the moon but we can’t overcome a couple of bugs? Give me a break!

When I did a word search on DG for “squash bugs” it returned six pages and over 500 posts where those words were used. If I wanted to learn all that I could about squash bugs from this website I don’t even want to think about how long it would take me to access and read every one of those posts. It seems to make sense to me that a simpler way would be if there was one thread in one forum that would be a clearing house of information on this topic. As I’ve half-jokingly, half-seriously stated I have made it my mission in life to try to learn about and compile as much information as I can about combating these pests and share it with as many people as I can. I also want everybody to share their ideas and experiences, what they’ve tried that worked. If we pool all of our information together in one place, I’d say that there is a better than even chance that we can come to a consensus on the best methods that work. It’s worth a try wouldn’t you agree?

Warrenton, VA

I say, GO FOR IT. This world is full of passive people who go through Life without being on a MISSION. They accept, rather than change. So why should you be in that majority? Godspeed, my friend!

Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)

In the spirit of my suggestion to have a single source for posts having to do with squash bugs and squash vine borers, I’m reposting my initial foray into internet research on the topic that I posted on a thread in the Texas Gardening forum in case you missed it. Hopefully this will start the discussions that will be a one-stop source for capturing all of the information on this topic:

I’ve decided on my plan to fight squash bugs and squash vine borers during the 2013 season and I’m still calling it “operation shock and awe”, even though I’ve backed off of my original plan of throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them (pantyhose, foil, etc.). This year I will try a strategy based on sound research-based recommendations using organic methods and if it doesn’t work, next year I will add to it non-traditional, non-research based techniques and if that doesn’t work, then sadly I’m done trying to grow squash.

The main source for my strategy came from this website:

I encourage you to read it if you are interested in the particulars so I won’t go into details here but will only give the highlights. THERE IS NOTHING NEW AND UNTRIED HERE and a lot of DGers’ posts I’ve read have said they have used these methods with varying degrees of success. Yet I’m compelled to try them for myself with a conscientiousness and persistence effort (here’s where my obsessive compulsive disorder might actually help) that I hope will cause squash bugs and squash vine borers to hold up a white surrender flag and move on to another garden.
1. Cultural practices - includes choice of squash varieties and cultivars most noxious to squash bugs and squash vine borers with careful timing of plantings (tatume, tromboncino, etc.), selections of certain types of mulches, removal and destruction of infected plants and all remaining plants at the end of the season, rotation of crops with non-cucurbit crops, companion planting with repellant plants such as catnip,, radishes, marigolds and beebalm;
2. Mechanical and physical practices - use of tightly secured and anchored gauze row covers removed just prior to female blossoms appearing to facilitate `pollination, daily monitoring of plants, hand picking and removal of bugs and eggs, and slitting of vines to remove SVB larvae;
3. Biological and botanical control practices - careful timing and early use of products acceptable in organic gardening such as diatomaceous earth, sabodilla, and neem oil prior to large population infestations.

By July I should have results by which I can judge whether my strategies were a success or a failure. Hopefully, by then I will be scouring the grocery stores in search of additional jars in which to can my harvest of squash.

This message was edited Mar 6, 2013 8:09 AM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)


I've been learning loads about how to use different hoop coverings to achieve desired outcomes like raising soil temps, or cooling/shading plants in the heat, keeping a bed dry before you need to plant it, and keeping flying, egg-laying moths off by using floating row covers (or, in my case, the bolt of tulle that's on the way...).

I found a website where this guy actual EXPLAINS in a pictorial how he uses at least 4 different hoop coverings to achieve certain outcomes in his RBs. One of the BEST RB garden websites I've ever seen!

I'm encouraged to build my squash trellis and cover the entire thing with a barrier of tulle to keep the Squash moth from getting to the plant and laying eggs on the stems. Think I'll put the plant in a container beneath the trellis, and wrap the entire pot and the lower portion of the stem. Then, I may tent the entire trellis, just until the blooms come on. Hopefully, there won't be any SVB larvae inside the stems, and the plant can have a fighting chance to develop some vegetables. We'll see...

Here's the link:


SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)


We had some really hard winds last night, 25-35 mph, but I peeped out this morning and the hoop is still standing. And, looks like the tomatoes are still standing inside, too.

I'm getting really warm buildup under the perforated plastic. The N-S orientation allows the wind to blow straight through the tunnel. Better that, then it blowing over!

I ordered a bolt of tulle to use in my bug arsenal. Will use like floating row cover.

I have SVB on my mind...I just love a challenge...

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/2013 by Hrp50:

I wasn't familiar with the word "tulle" so I googled it to find out what it is. I found this:

Tulle is a fine mesh net fabric that is best known as the material used to make wedding veils. Tulle is also used to embellish wedding gowns, evening gowns, costumes, hats, lingerie, window treatments, floral arrangements, gifts and wedding favors. This versatile fabric has been around for more than three centuries.

Would you please explain how you use this material in your gardening?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/2013 by Gymgirl:

I'll be using it like floating row covers over my seedlings. If the moths can't get to the plants, they can't lay eggs on the stems!

I got the idea from reading about the SVB laying eggs on the stems (TWO cycles here in Texas), and how floating row covers seem to be one of the best front-line defenses during the egg-laying season. Tulle is pretty cheap, and, unlike floating row cover, can be used over and over again. I paid $55 (w/tax & shipping) for a 9' wide x 50 yard bolt of fabric.

The tulle will keep the cabbage moths off the cabbages and the pillbugs off the leaves as well. Hopefully, no buckshot holes...

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/2013 by Hrp50:

Tulle does seem to be a cost effective alternative to using the gauze-like floating row cover material. Do you have to order it online or can you go to a fabric store and buy it?. I assume it lets through the same amount of sunlight and water (rain or otherwise) as does floating row cover?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/2013 by Gymgirl:

No, you don't have to order it online, yes, your local fabric store will have it, and, from what I've read, yes water and sunlight will penetrate.

Check for sales, coupons, etc.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/2013 by Drthor:

I have used "organdy" as a row cover for years. Sun and water does penetrate.
I have a lot left over from my sewing ... and of all possible colors.
Ask your DW if she has a 40% coupon from Jo-Ann Fabrics and go crazy (If not register on-line and you will soon receive a catalog and the coupon at the end).
Any kind of light weight netting will be perfect as a row cover - you will be amazed what you can find at the fabric store.

... and don't tell that you are looking for "fine organdy or tulle" to use on your vegetable garden to discourage bugs ... just let them think you are doing a sewing project ...

This message was edited Mar 6, 2013 11:35 AM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/2013 by NicoleC:

I didn't get the memo that I couldn't use my row cover over and over again. :)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/2013 by Hrp50:
Gymgirl & drthor,

At this stage in my life I don't care if the fabric store clerk wonders why I'm buying tulle. :)

Is fine organdy the same as or just similar to tulle in cost, in it's use for this purpose ?. It sounds as if tulle would not any provide any protection against the temperature while I've read that gauze floating row cover holds in some of the earth's heat by not allowing it to escape into the atmosphere, thus the temperature stays 3 to 4 degrees warmer underneath than the outside temperature . Is that your understanding? I guess that would be one advantage of using floating row cover as 3 or 4 degrees of warmth just might make a difference in whether or not plants suffer cold damage. Again I assume you would use the tulle over the perforated plastic as tulle by itself won't slow down the wind? I think that my brain is leaking out of my ears trying to absorb all of this.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/13 by NicoleC:

hrp50, floating row cover comes in varying thicknesses for different levels of protection, so the amount of potential warmth varies with the material.

Read more:

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/13 by Gymgirl:

No memo...

FWIW, I think the tulle might outlast the FRC by about 2 days, only because there's little chance of tearing it...LOL!

Not worried about frost protection. By the time I put my warm weather veggies out under the tulle, it'll be warm enough.

Not in any hurry at this point for that group. I learned my lesson last season with wasting water and ferts on okras and bell peppers that just sat and sulked until it got good and hot enough for their liking! Same for the squash. I'll start seedlings indoors, and once they're big enough to withstand an attack of the SVB, they'll go outside immediately under tulle that is secured around the bed on ALL sides. Might even use some duct tape...LOL!

Again. Moth can't reach the stem, moth can't lay the eggs!

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/13 by Drthor:

I use the organdy as a "row cover" ... to protect only from bugs - it doesn't protect plants from cold or heat or water.

It is a fine mesh that lets the air and the sunshine inside and keep the bugs out.
You are confusing with a frost cloth. When you go to Jo-Ann fabric you can feel with your hands the texture of the fabric and understand its purpose. You can also look around and fine some fine netting that you may love much better (trust me - I know fabric)

I did use organdy as a cover a few years ago with the baby cucumbers ... but I found out that I don't really need it on them.

I plan to use it on my zucchini this year ... or maybe I will let you try it first ...

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/13 by 1lisac:

Tulle is a mesh like fabric that you see a lot on Wedding Dresses and wedding Veils (or vowels as hrp50 says) lol.

It wouldn't work against protecting plants from freezing but it would protect against intruders. i wished it worked for Spider Mites.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/12 by Hrp50:

Yeah, go ahead and make fun of me, I can take it! :)

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/13 by 1lisac:

I'm sorry that typo was really funny to me for some reason. The thought of you buying tulle isn't far behind.

But if it works, who cares?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/13 by Kittriana:

Where DO they lay the eggs? in ground and ON plant? I see damage I pull and burn, cuz sumtimes they'll get one plant but not the other...

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/13 by Stephanietx:

They lay them on the stems of the plant or on the stems of the leaves.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED 3/5/13 by Stephanietx:

When the eggs hatch, they bore into the stalk or the stem and begin eating away. One of the first signs is droopy leaves, even with watering and then you start seeing the frass. Very disappointing!

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

I'm a bit confused here- the article says the SVB overwinter in the ground- so how can row covers help if they are in the soil?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

I read somewhere in one of the articles that part of the purpose of tilling/disturbing the top layer of soil is to disturb those pupae so other predators can get to them before they become moths and start laying eggs on your squash...

The article also recommended cleaning up areas where the overwintering moth might go to hide and pupate(?). Like under leaves, old boards, dark, quiet, undisturbed places where they can be "snug as a bug in a rug!"

Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)

I’ve copied some of what I found on the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service website:

The squash vine borer overwinters as a full grown larva or a pupa 1 to 2 inches below the soil surface. If it has not already done so, the larva pupates in the spring. Adult moths begin to emerge about the time the plants begin to run and moth flight continues through mid August. The adult squash vine borer is a stout dark gray moth with 'hairy' red hind legs, opaque front wings, and clear hind wings with dark veins. Unlike most moths, they fly about the plants during the daytime, appearing more like a paper wasp than a month. The small brown eggs, laid individually on leaf stalks and vines, hatch in 7 to 10 days. The newly hatched larva immediately bores into the stem. A larva feeds for 14 to 30 days before exiting the stem to pupate in the soil. There are 1 to 2 generations per year.

My observation: The reason that adequately applied row cover works is that if the flying moth can't get under or through the row cover, then it can't lay its eggs and it goes away to your neighbor’s garden.

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

Found this that I have not seen mentioned before, I could have over looked it.

"You can also use yellow trap pans to detect squash vine borer adults. This can be any container (e.g. pan, pail, bowl) colored yellow and filled with water. Because squash vine borer adults are attracted to yellow, they will fly to the container and be trapped when they fall into the water. Place traps by late June, checking your traps at least once a day. When you notice squash vine borer adults in your traps you know they are active and it is time to take further action"

Of course the June date posted here would depend on your area.

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

the article you read it is correct. The SVB does over-winter in the ground.
It is really bad luck if it comes up right where you have your plant ... otherwise the SVB is going to come up and fly around ... it can fly as far as a mile smelling the squash plant.
As soon as the SVB borer finds the plant, it starts to lay down eggs everywhere ... mostly under the stem and leaves and where you cannot see them.
I did try to pick the eggs up with sticky tape and I turn around and the SVB is laying eggs right where I just remove them. It is a monster!
So if you can grow the plants under a cover and keep the bugs out ... probably you will have zucchini.
But we are talking about a "smart" bug ...

Anyway ... I am talking from experience and I can spot a SVB 50' away now.
I hope somebody will find a solution.

Carrollton, TX(Zone 8a)


You’ve cited the source of a good explanation of how to manage squash vine borers in the home garden. So let me review what I’ve learned so far. It seems as if controlling squash vine borers shouldn’t be all that difficult and may be as easy as covering plants with row covers the correct way and at the right time. So why have I failed so miserably at it in the past? I know one reason is that I never knew before what the moth looked like or when they were active so I never observed the flight of the moth stage flying around my squash plants. Therefore, how would I know when the time had come to cover the plants with row covers? If my timing was off or I did a lousy job of securing the row cover so that the moths still laid their eggs, I didn’t know what the eggs looked like or where to look for them to start removing them. If I also missed the eggs and they hatched and the larvae started burrowing into the stems and left a “frass”, I probably wasn’t looking at my plants every day so I wouldn’t have as a last resort an opportunity to slit open the stem, remove the larvae and maybe save the plant.

It sounds as if I have several opportunities to intervene before my squash plants keel over and die from squash vine borer damage if only I am more diligent about doing what needs to be done and my timing is accurate. Suddenly I don’t feel so intimidated by these cretins.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

^^_^^! There IS hope!

I'm so optimistic I'll get some zucchini squash, I've started collecting RECIPES!

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

Thanks to you starting this thread, we might all have a chance of harvesting some squash this year!

Enterprise, AL(Zone 8b)

Now this may be more information than many of you want but for hrp50 I am including this. I had never even heard of degree hours in association with vegetable and fruit pests. I found this very interesting! 950 degree days for squash vine borer by the way.

This message was edited Mar 6, 2013 4:17 PM

This message was edited Mar 6, 2013 4:18 PM

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON 02/27/2011 by Calalily on the "High Yield Gardening: Intensive Farming" forum...

[For] Squash vine borers, use one tablespoon sulfur at planting time. Do not use it on the stems or leaves of plants, but add to soil when seeds are planted. Row covers work to help lessen the SVB, but remember squash need bees for pollination. We cover squash with hoops, then row covers only over the top [of the hoop] (ends are [left] open).

This allows bees to enter, because once they find the squash, they go down the row pollinating then fly out the other end. Moths tend to fly in from the top and run into the row cover and leave, but if they find their way in from the end, they will lay eggs. (at least that is my theory)

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I just checked my calendar and last year I spotted the first SVB appeared in my garden on April 24th, 2012

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I had a terrible time keeping up with SVB's and cucumber beetles last year. This is the number one reason why I have decided NOT to grow vegetables this year. If the darn bugs can't find food, they will either go elsewhere, or die of starvation.

I am fortunate in that there are no other vegetable gardens close to us, otherwise this approach would not work.

Talihina, OK

I do have to agree with Callalilly treat the soil don't know about the sulphur tho not organic but natural for the most part ..But remember that a lot of sulphur is from the scrubbers on coal fired generating plants

Monte Vista, CO(Zone 4a)

Honeybee, just do vegetables in Dutch buckets hydroponics with 50/50 vermiculite and perlite and liquid hydro fertilizers. THAT'LL teach 'em. Not kidding.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Solace - thanks for the tip. I've never heard of Dutch buckets, so I looked them up.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)


That is an EXCELLENT article!

Decatur, GA(Zone 7b)

Here's a suggestion I received from Calalily in the Organic Gardening Forum from Oct 24, 2012:

Quote from Calalily :
I have a new solution and it WORKS! Traps and lures. They aren't expensive. Kills them before they lay eggs. Also when you're digging in the soil, you will find their cocoon(is that what it's called? where they change from a worm to a moth?) I'm using them for pickle worms also.

Here's a link to the forum if you want more info on obtaining the lures and traps.

I still not sure if I will plant squash this year............(Well, maybe one or two)

Irving, TX(Zone 8a)

I cannot find any pictures on how this LURES look like in the website.
It is kind of expensive ... I will wait and let somebody try first ...
Squash Vine Borer Melittia cucurbitae

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