'Squash Bugs' Could Ruin Your Plants

Jul 2, 2012

Monday's Access Utah is a repeat from 2011's rainy season. Here's some up-to-date information about critters in your garden.

Squash bugs are little, gray tanks, about ¾” long, that love to tap into the vascular system of your squash plants (zucchini, pumpkins, gourds, squash, etc) and suck all the moisture out. If there are just a few, that’s not usually too much of a problem. However, all you need is two and within a few days there are WAY more than two. The next thing you know, you go out in the morning to pick a zucchini and your squash plant looks like, well. . .it has been squashed. The vascular system of the plant can no longer handle all those little bugs stealing its moisture, and it collapses. What do you do?

Don’t worry about spraying chemicals. The adults aren’t bothered by pesticides. The best thing to do is just pick them off the plant and squish them. Look for them at the base of the plants. You'll see them moving to get away from your fingers. They might also be coupled together doing what bugs do best. Just pick them off and squash them with a rock. They do produce a putrid, minty smell when they’re squished, so wearing gloves won’t hurt, and they won’t hurt you.  Also, look on the underside of the leaves where leaves attach to the stems. You might find little, copper-colored eggs. Just crush them with your fingernails as you really don’t want these to hatch. There could also be eggs on the underside of the stems.

Do a reconnaissance about every other morning for two weeks. By then, you should have found them all and you won’t be bothered the rest of the year. Then, just periodically check back to make sure you didn’t miss anything.