Trisha tackles squash vine borers: Central Texas Gardener


I love to grow squash but it can be a verybig challenge in the garden because of an insect called the squash vine borer.

This is a worm that actually borrows intothe stem of the squash and starts to eat the plant from the inside out and sometimes youdon't notice that its happening until you see the plant totally wilt and by then itstoo late to do any control.

And so there's (some strategies) you can doto make yourself successful with growing squash.

Now, if you're growing butter nutter acornsquash, those tend to have more resistance to squash vine borers because they don't havethe hollow stems as the yellow and green squashes.

Also the patty pan squash tends to have fewerproblems too.

But if you're determined to grow the greensand yellow squashes, there are a couple of things you can do.

Now one thing that I do is I plant a lot ofsquash.

And I plant some, just kind of seeds, there'salways extra seeds in the packet, so I plant seeds all over the garden.

Those are my trap plants.

The other thing that I do, and when thosestart to get the insects inside the stem, I just pull the plant out and destroy thelarvae and throw those plants in the trash.

Now I do plant some squash that I'm goingto protect and I tend to plant them along with onion sets that I purchased during thewinter and saved and some radish seeds.

Its usually too hot to get good onions andradishes from these plants but they're really just a companion so it helps deter the adults, wasp-like moth from planting their eggs near those plants when you put the seeds in orthe new plants in.

Now, the adult of the squash vine borer lookslike a wasp but if you know what the adult looks like, you can easily catch them anddispatch them.

Now I know it's a little bit intimidatingbecause it looks like a wasp so just make sure you know what the adult looks like andget rid of those when you see them in the garden.

Now you can also spray your plants regularlywith spinocid once the plants are in.

Once or twice a week, spray the area aroundthe base of the plant with spinocid, that should help destroy any larvae that are hatchingout from the eggs.

An adult can lay 150 to 250 eggs in your gardenso that's why I put all the other extra plants out, to keep those moths busy.

Now you can cover the stems with foil, thatprevents the larvae from hatching out in the egg form and burrowing into the stem.

But if you notice a hole in the stem, witha little bit of sawdust-like shaving at the bottom of the plant, if you'll cut and makea cut with a sharp knife, go in and pull out any larvae that you see and sometimes itsmore than one then close that stem up and put some good compost on top and bury thestem again.

A lot of times the plant will recover butagain, if you wait until the plants are wilting, its too late.

Another thing you can do is inject BT intothe stem, I haven't found it to be as effective as actually pulling the caterpillars out.

But one thing I think is really crucial iscovering your plants.

Now you want to use a lightweight grow webfabric.

This is not the same fabric that you use toprotect your plants in the winter, its much lighter weight.

And this is just for preventing insects fromgetting to your plants.

Make a tent over your plants and cover themuntil they start to bloom with female flowers.

The first flowers on your squash are maleflowers, so the female flowers are easy to tell because they have, at the base of theflower, a little swelling that looks like the squash.

And so once you start to have female flowerson the plants, you've got to pull that cover off so that the insect pollinators can getto those plants.

When you cover your plants, make sure yourcovering is very tight to the ground.

I use rebar hoops and I clip the fabric ontothe hoops with spring clamps, all the way down to the ground, very secure then pullthat off and just keep planting those decoy plants around the garden throughout the growingseason.

You might even put some seeds in a containerso that you have a new succession crop to come in and hopefully if you do these things, you'll have more squash than you'll know what to do with.