I was pretty bummed when I realized that our squash plants had been infected with the most destructive kind of pest imaginable for a squash. It was the first time I’d ever seen one of the little buggers too, and I’ll tell you I don’t want to see them again. If you don’t know what it is I’m talking about yet, it’s called the Squash Vine Borer, and it has the ability to completely decimate your squash plants.
The squash borer is actually a type of moth, that will lay it’s eggs on the stems of squash plants in mid to late summer (end of July area). They sort of look like wasps, and apparently you can hear them flying around your garden if you pay attention while out there. The eggs then hatch, and the larvae, which look like white worms, begin feeding on the squash plants…it’s truly horrendous. These little critters can do a world of damage, often causing the plants to wilt, even when fully watered. I thought something was odd when our zucchini began wilting everyday.
Some of the signs of having a borer infestation include, as I stated, a wilting plant even after watering, and the presence of any green or orange colored mush forming around the base of the plant. This material is what shows up after the larvae start feeding on the squash vine. Once this stage comes around, it’s nearly impossible to save the plant, due to the damage. If you’d like to try, you can try digging the larvae out of the stem, if you can find them all, but this can be difficult. I tried doing it, but when attempting to bury the stem further under the dirt, accidently snapped off the weakened stem…thus ending our zucchini adventure for the year.
Once your plants succumb to this pest, it’s recommended to bury the plant under a few inches of dirt, I’m assuming because the plant will decompose faster, and the vine borer will suffocate and starve without any food. They aren’t like worms which can travel through dirt. Thus we now have squash graves in our garden…
I learned that, in order to organically prevent the moth from laying eggs, you can spray garlic spray on the vine during the month of July, or whenever they appear, and this will keep them off the plants. Also, just keeping an eye on the plant stems, and remove any eggs or larvae that may appear. Gonna have to try that next year! At least we got a few zucchini before they died…we didn’t get any winter squash from our other plant.