I wasn’t prepared. Maybe you’re never really prepared for a squash pest invasion, but I’m gearing up for war this year.
This year, I have even more squash. Yeah, I know. But I want ’em so bad. I have butternuts, zucchini, TWO kinds of pumpkins, and some as-yet-undetermined volunteers.
Here’s the battle plan:
- Squash planted in different beds from last year’s debacle
- Aluminum foil around the stems
- Nylon stockings around stems
- Periodic squirts of neem at the base of the stems
- Weekly insecticidal soap treatments
- Daily examinations
They are in different beds because squash critters overwinter in the soil to crawl out and attack the new crop. The aluminum foil is supposed to be a barrier to squash borers.
Ditto for the nylon stockings. Why both? Overkill. Last year was traumatic. I kept hearing about this technique but couldn’t find a photo or a detailed description. It’s harder than it looks, folks, at least the way I did it. The strips of stocking kept rolling up and squirming around and the stems wouldn’t behave. It was like trying to wrap a bandage around a . . . I can’t think of anything like it. It was a unique experience. I’ll wear long sleeves next time. I’m still not sure I did it right. Here’s one attempt:
I don’t know how far up I should go. Any thoughts?
The neem I’m hoping will make the stems less desirable to the borers. The insecticidal soap is to get the bugs I miss in my daily inspection. I can’t turn over every leaf. I planted A LOT of pumpkins.
At the first sign of leaf yellowing or wilting I check and 99% of the time there is a borer hole. I cut off the leaf at the base of the stem and split the leaf stem open until I find the borer and dispatch it.
I have stopped short of trap crops and row covers with hand pollination. If all my measures fail this year I may have to go that far next year.
Ivory is threatening to get some guinea hens for her squash bugs. If they could breed a quiet guinea I’d be right there with her.
How’s the squash pest war on your front?