Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Infested By Squash Bugs
A month or so ago I noticed all of these little silver bugs crawling on my squash plants. But it took me about a week to get online and figure out what they were exactly.
And that week will forever (or you know...this year anyway) be a big mistake when it comes to my gardening career (by career, I mean hobby that consumes me). Squash bugs (or really, cabbage flies) are evil!
They look innocent enough. Like little white butterflies. Well those dang things lay eggs on the underside of your squash and melon leaves. Tiny little things that you would totally miss if not specifically looking for them. You basically have to stand on your head to find them.
Then they hatch into these tiny silver buggers. Which grow into dark grey bugs that are harder to spot. And then nibble your plants. Which makes the plants weak. When the plants start to produce fruit, they become so stressed that they die. Nearly overnight.
I have since learned two organic tricks though. Tricks I wish I used during that first week when I instead did nothing.
#1. Take a piece of packing tape and make a circle around your hand, sticky side facing out. Then go to town with both the eggs and bugs. It's the easiest method ever. Just stick those darn bugs to the tape and throw it away. Ditto for the eggs- just stick up all the eggs. It should leave the leaf totally intact. After I finished for the day (at the peak I went through many tape circles), I wadded it all up and put another piece of tape around the used buggy tape. That way if anything hatched in the trash, it couldn't get out. The best part about the tape is that you don't actually have to touch any bugs.
#2. After removing all the bugs each day, dust the undersides of the leaves and the stems (but try to avoid the flowers so it doesn't get on bees) with rock dust (Azomite). I've told you that I use rock dust to amend my soil and include it in the hole of every plant that goes into the garden. But it turns out that bugs don't like it. While it feels like soft flour to me, to bugs it is abrasive and also dehydrates them so they die.
I found several other organic and non-organic ideas online but these are the two I now firmly stand behind and will use at first bug/egg sighting next year.
I've lost several plants in the process. Sad.
I mean, I planted each and every one of those plants from seed on March 01. To lose them five months later to dumb bugs is disheartening. The photo above is of a plant that is almost dead but it's the only Crane Melon left. I'm doing anything I can think of to keep it on life support so I am able to taste this melon. It's about the size of a softball at the moment. It needs to grow a lot more before I can eat it.
But it won't stop me from trying again next year. I'm just all the wiser (I hope).
Have you battled squash/cabbage or other bugs this year? Have you found any organic solutions I should try? Have you ever used rock dust?