Pest Management: What Killed Your Squash Plant

THE PEST: Squash Vine Borer aka Squash Bug aka your worst nightmare if you are trying to grow anything from the Cucurbitaceae family, this includes squash, watermelon, zucchinis or pumpkins. 

Squash Vine Borers (Melittia satyriniformis) drop eggs onto thick vine type crops that hatch into grubby white caterpillar and will take down your entire plant.

Squash Vine Borers (Melittia satyriniformis) drop eggs onto thick vine type crops that hatch into grubby white caterpillar and will take down your entire plant.

INFESTATION SYMPTOMS: A couple of WTFs are usually one of the early signs a squash bug has been spotted in your growing space. Once referred to around my house as that crazy alien bird beetle that's hovering (yes hovering) over my pumpkin patch. These guys can take down an entire plant within a few days. Infestations are usually spotted too late, but your leafs will start to wilt and the plant will begin to collapse and then die. The vines will also become mushy and rotten.

These guys are really a location based problem. The vine borer can spot Cucurbitaceae from miles away and will keep coming back year after year to your pumpkin patch. Nothing really helps so put your wallet away and plan to pull eggs from your plant daily for about two weeks out of the year sometime between July and August.. So worth it, because who doesn't want to grow their own squash?! If you have been overwhelmed year after year by Vine Borer infestations try planting butternut squash only, rumor has it they are resistant to the vine borer take down. 

 

 

Check the underside of leafs and the base of your plant for brown small poppyseed like eggs. Remove the eggs with your fingernail or a dull knife. Once you've discovered a few eggs check back daily until egg laying has stopped.

The Vine Borer will only lay eggs for about two weeks out of the season.

Good luck! Happy Vine Borer Hunting!!

Pest Management: Friend or Foe

This time of year, we often see lots of little critters, crawling, creeping and flying around our plant friends. And every year we scratch our heads, wondering which of these creatures are friends and which ones are foes.

So this year, we enlisted the help of our talented illustrator friend Rachel, to get the down low on which critters should stay and which ones should go!

Good luck gardeners!

Original Illustration Provided by  Rachel Rolseth

Original Illustration Provided by Rachel Rolseth

Pest Management: Aphids 101

These are aphids... aka "plant lice"... Yummy!!

One type of aphid infestation.

One type of aphid infestation.

Aphids  come in a variety of colors and there are aprox 4,400 species known, but most are small just like these little green ones I had attacking my sage plants.

When I first noticed the tiny insects, I shook them off the plant but didn't think much of it (bad call).

What makes these little dudes so bad?

  • Aphid infestations can destroy an entire plant and if left untreated, they can spread to surrounding plants (source)
  • These pests suck out plant sap, damaging leaves, stems, and flowers in the process (source)
  • Heavy infestations will cause leaves to curl, wilt or yellow and stunted plant growth and several species can transmit plant diseases, particularly viruses which they pass on during feeding (source)
  • As they feed, aphids secrete large amounts of a sticky fluid known as honeydew. This sweet goo drips onto plants, attracting ants and promoting a black sooty mold growth on leaves (source)
  • They reproduce extremely fast, like 80 new bugs a day fast..

After reading about different ways to approach the invasion naturally, I tried one out.

Aphids eating a sage plant

Aphids eating a sage plant

After inspecting all of the surrounding plants, the infestation seemed to be concentrated on the sage plants (thankfully) so I thoroughly inspected their leaves, stems and base.

Most of the aphids were towards the top so I squished them (yep) by pressing the sage leaves together firmly. This seemed to be fairly effective and although it's not the nicest way to get rid of them, it does ensures they won't spread  all over the of the garden if you were to just brush them off.

Squish!

Squish!

Paint with soapy mixture

Paint with soapy mixture

Then I made a soapy mixture using an organic plant based soap, got my paint brush out and gave the plant a little bath.

Check the back of leaves for bugs, worms, eggs, etc.

Check the back of leaves for bugs, worms, eggs, etc.

I checked the plants a few times a day for the first 2 days after that and did find a few new aphids but I just squished those too and after almost 2 weeks, this has totally worked.

More on this later I'm sure..

Happy insect wars!