In our July 2010 Newsletter we talked about how the squash bugs were wreaking havoc on our squash, zucchini and pumpkin plants. We asked our readers to talk to us and let us know their ideas and experiences in dealing with this critter that destroys otherwise healthy and productive plants overnight.
We found out that these bugs are a serious threat all across the US and Canada as well, so no area is more vulnerable or immune to them. Several people shared their experiences with companion planting, with mixed results. Some had good results, some had no change and some had differing results depending on the year. Many of you have said this is the most difficult garden pest to deal with, as it doesn’t seem to respond universally to anything or any approach. The bugs will overwinter under almost any debris, woodchips or other small shelter and re-engage their destructive behavior in the Spring, making their control a multi-year program.
The two most successful methods were spraying of Neem oil, either by itself or mixed with water, or Guinea hens in the garden. The Guinea hens seems like the most reliable method of controlling the bugs, if you’re able to get and keep the hens. They also seem to be the favorite bug controlling critter, regardless of what bugs you have. The Neem oil not only smothers the bugs, but slows their feeding and greatly reduces their reproduction if they ingest it. Several resources mentioned Neem oil as one of the foundational treatments for the squash bugs.
We were hoping for a somewhat universal approach, and one of our readers, Joann from Michigan sent us this recipe, and she says it will kill the bugs, not just drive them away! This looks to be a promising approach that will not only help with the immediate problems but speed up the decrease in population for next years program.
- 4 Tsp baking soda (anti fungal properties, also stops powdery mildew type problems)
- 1 Tsp vegetable oil (smothering agent) Neem oil would work well here. The amount could be doubled.
- 1 Tsp soap (emulsifier/sticker/smothering agent) Best to use a natural soap such as Dr. Bronner’s and not a detergent that can harm the soil organisms as it sticks around much longer. The peppermint variety seems to work well from Dr. Bronner's.
- 1 to 2 tbs garlic juice (kills) To make juice: 1 medium bulb (not clove) of garlic blended with 1 to 2 cups of water. Let sit a minimum of 15 minutes and strain.
- 1 medium onion, made into a juice concentrate as above.
- 1 Tbs dried cayenne pepper.
- Add all ingredients together in a bottle with a screw top and shake well to mix.
- Add concentrate to a gallon of water and spray liberally. Repeat as often as needed to drive off or kill the squash bugs.
Add concentrate to a gallon of water and spray liberally. Repeat as often as needed to drive off or kill the squash bugs.
We will be trying this recipe to see how it works for us. Please let us know your experiences, or if you have a different approach that has proven to be effective, please let us know so we can share it!