Squash bugs usually attack squash and related plants and if you are growing your own pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash plants in your garden, then you might be familiar with these annoying insects.
According to the report of Rural Sprout, an adult female squash bug can lay up to 250 eggs. However, gardeners who want to know how to get rid of squash bug infestations or how to kill squash bugs, first need to learn how to recognize squash bug eggs, nymphs, and adults.
And once you have identified them properly, then you can use the right method to get rid of them. Also, you can do this effectively and without the use of any synthetic chemical pesticides by following some simple ways.
In this article, we have shared 7 simple and effective ways how to kill squash bugs in your garden without killing bees. Also, here we have discussed how you can identify squash bug damage and how to prevent squash bugs from returning to your garden.
So, let’s get started.
Table of Contents
How To Identify Squash Bug Damage
Squash bug damage is actually distinctive because it appears as mottled yellow spots on the plant leaves that ultimately turn brown.
Also, severe squash bug infestations usually result in dark brown leaves that turn crispy and dry. There are a few indications that would help you to identify squash bug damage.
- Damage To Your Plants: Adult squash bugs that feed on squash plants usually suck out the sap, which causes the leaves and stems to wilt. And ultimately they destroy plants by killing off all of their leaves, the portion of the plant that makes food through the process of photosynthesis.
- Pale Areas On Fruit: Adult squash bugs also feed on the developing fruits of squash plants, mainly at the stem end. And they can cause sunken, pale areas on fruits which ultimately lead to fruit rot.
7 Methods On How To Kill Squash Bugs: Keep Squash Bugs Out Of Your Garden
If you have found squash bugs in your garden, you should follow several methods to get rid of them safely and organically. Here are 7 effective methods how to kill squash bugs without killing bees.
1. Pick Up Squash Bugs And Toss Them In Soapy Water
If you can find a lot of squash bugs on your plants, you just need to pick them off with a gloved hand and flick them into a container of dish soap mixed with water or in a bucket of soapy water. So, the pests will get trapped and eventually drown.
It would ensure that your plant will remain undamaged throughout the whole season. However, you should repeat this process every few days to remove all squash bugs in your garden.
You can also place wooden boards around the infested beds and lift them up every morning to find more bugs to kill and if you want, you can even vacuum the bugs up.
Also, you need to lift the leaves on the plants to check the undersides and stems for squash bug eggs, which are usually reddish-brown in color and around 1/16 inch long.
You should pick them off and throw them in a container of soapy water. However, they generally hatch within 5 to 10 days after laying, so you should check every other day in spring.
2. Cleaning Your Garden
You need to clean up your garden in the fall to get rid of the female squash bugs that spend the winter there. Because this can reduce the probability of having an infestation in the next year to a great extent.
You just need to bag up all the old plants, decaying leaves, and other debris, and try to seal and discard them. Also, you can burn the waste, however, you should check local ordinances before doing so.
Because a cold winter can easily kill many adult squash bugs and drastically reduce the subsequent squash bug damage in the next spring.
So, you need to take away the nice and comfortable hiding places where adult squash bugs usually spend their winter vacation.
For that, you need to collect or gather fallen leaves in your garden and dispose of them in your compost pile or trash bags. Also, you can cut back perennials and pull all spent vegetable plants from your garden.
3. Attract The Natural Predators For Squash Bugs
There are various garden bugs that usually feed on squash bugs and by attracting them to your garden, you would have a natural pest control method. Tachinid flies are natural predators of squash bugs.
That is why organic gardeners generally plant carrots and flowers that can attract these natural predators to the vegetable garden near squash plants.
Because adult Tachinid flies usually lay eggs on the squash bugs, and the larvae consume squash bugs as food. And adult flies only feed on nectar and pollen, so they also would not harm your vegetable plants.
However, you should remember that there are thousands of species of tachinid flies, but not all of them use squash bugs as a host.
Because others use different types of caterpillars, other true bugs, and even beetles. Also, hunting spiders are natural predators of squash bugs. And these hunting spiders usually crawl around on the soil and up into plants to eat their prey, mainly at night.
So, you need to encourage them by planting a lot of flowering plants and low-growing herbs in and around your squash plants.
4. Spray The Plant Leaves With Neem Oil Or Insect Killing Soap
You can also spray the plant leaves completely with neem oil or insecticidal soap. However, you should know that these treatments are usually more effective on nymphs than on adult squash bugs, so you should first check the plants for nymphs.
And Neem oil is one of the most recommended products for squash bug control. However, it has systemic properties, which means it is generally absorbed into the plant and travels throughout its vascular system.
So, it could easily end up in the pollen and nectar and can affect pollinator health. Also, it is not as harmful as synthetic systemic pesticides, but you should definitely think about it twice while making the choice.
Insecticidal soaps are generally made from fatty acids and can break down the soft exoskeleton of squash bug nymphs and eggs.
So, insecticidal soaps must come in direct contact with the squash bug nymphs or eggs for them to work properly. However, it is not as effective against adult squash bugs.
5. Use Squash Bug Traps
Squash bugs usually gather on the undersides of logs or wooden boards during the night, so you can set some bait to catch a lot of squash bugs at once.
You just need to place a wooden board or squares of cardboard around the base of squash plants in the garden during the evening.
Then, in the morning, check underneath it for squash bugs, and if you have attracted any bugs, try to place the wooden board onto a hard surface instantly and step on it to smash the bugs underneath.
However, you should do this regularly to remove all the squash bugs from your garden. Also, you can lift the boards in the morning and brush all the squash bugs into a bucket of soapy water.
It would not catch all of them, but it will definitely help you to get rid of squash bugs. There are other various possible ways to trap squash bugs to get rid of them or to kill them, mainly when it is a larger infestation.
6. Using A Piece Of Duct Tape
If you want to know how to get rid of squash bugs, then using duct tape is one of the most popular methods.
First, you need to wrap a piece of duct tape around your hand with the sticky side out. After that, try to search your squash plants for clusters of bronze-colored squash bug eggs.
Now, you need to tap the duct tape against the egg cluster to collect them. Also, you can use it to collect young nymphs and even adult squash bugs.
And if you can regularly search the squash plants and catch the females early in the spring before they lay eggs, then it would be a great strategy to get rid of them.
When you have completed collecting the eggs and adult bugs, discard the tape in the trash bin. However, you should do this every 7 to 10 days to always keep your garden free of squash bugs.
Also, it would take some practice or expertise to properly remove the eggs without damaging the plant leaves, however, you can remove eggs without the use of pesticides by using this method.
7. Raising Your Own Chickens And Guinea Hens
It is true that not everyone can raise their own chickens and guinea hens, but each does a great job of eating squash bugs from your garden.
And Guinea hens also eat ticks and other harmful bugs, so they are an organic gardener’s best option against these insect infestations.
Also, chickens provide manure for your garden and eggs for your food. So, if you have hens at your home, then you should let them loose in your vegetable garden to help control insect infestations in a natural way.
And you should definitely grow your squash in a mixture of other plants, not in long rows. Because large areas of a single crop are friendly to pests that include squash bugs.
So, you should try to mix your squash plants with different types of other flowering plants and vegetables.
How You Can Prevent Squash Bugs From Returning To Your Garden
After following all these methods listed above for how to kill squash bugs or how to get rid of squash bugs, home gardeners can also use various precautionary methods to prevent them from returning to their garden. Here are several ways to deter squash bugs from your squash plants.
- Grow Resistant Varieties Of Squash: There are some types of squash, such as butternut, royal acorn, and early summer crookneck that can resist squash bugs. So, if you have found pest infestation in your garden, then you can plant these varieties of squash.
- Prevent The Squash Bugs From Finding Shelter: Squash bugs can spend the winter in many areas of your garden, such as in compost piles and mulch. So, you need to prevent the squash bugs from finding shelter by making your garden unfriendly to them. You should remove all old plants, decaying leaves, and other debris from your garden by disposing of them in waste bags that are usually picked up by your municipality.
- Covering Plants With Row Cover: You can keep insects away from your crops by covering the plants with floating row cover material. And you should secure the edges of the fabric with bricks, rocks, or other heavy objects. The spun fibers of the row covers easily let in water, air, and light, but different insects such as squash bugs can’t penetrate the surface.
Wrap Up On How To Kill Squash Bugs
Squash bugs can cause damage to your garden, so if you know how to kill squash bugs, it can help you keep your crops healthy.
And if you want to learn how to get rid of squash bugs, then you should keep your plants watered and healthy and take precautionary steps to prevent squash bugs.
Also, you should destroy any squash bug eggs you find in your plants before they hatch. With these methods mentioned above, gardeners are able to control squash bug damage in their gardens.
We hope that our detailed and informative article has helped you to find out how to kill squash bugs in your garden. If you have any questions or doubts related to this article, please leave a message in the comments below.
FAQ: How To Kill Squash Bugs
As there are several ways how to kill squash bugs, many people have some common questions about squash bug control. Here I have tried to answer a few of those questions in the FAQ section.
Q1. Can A Squash Plant Recover From Squash Bugs?
Ans: Both adult squash bugs and nymphs usually suck nutrients from plant leaves, which causes wilting. And seedlings, newly transplanted small plants, and flowering plants are the most vulnerable. However, if the plant is not severely damaged, then it usually recovers when the squash bug population decreases.
Q2. How Do Farmers Control Squash Bugs?
Ans: The best method to control squash bugs is prevention through sanitation, which means you should remove old cucurbit plants after harvest and keep your garden free from rubbish and other debris that can provide overwintering places for squash bugs.
Q3. Will Garlic Spray Keep Squash Bugs Away?
Ans: Garlic usually works as a pest repellant, and it is also extremely effective. And garlic repels insects in almost the same way it repels some people. Because the smell is unpleasant and so insects usually avoid it.