Sometimes you have to take drastic action to get rid of garden pests, like squash bugs. Every year we lose plants due to this persistent insect, which feeds on our squash, pumpkins, and cucumber plants. They lay their eggs on the bottom side of plant leaves, which hatch in about 10 days, and though one generation is typical each year, sometimes a partial second generation overlaps. The adults often survive freezing and will overwinter under garden debris, so it’s best to take care of them in warm weather to prevent them from hanging around in the garden all winter, waiting for your precious squash and pumpkins in June.
So a couple weeks ago after our butternut squash plants suddenly began to yellow and fail, I went out to the patch that evening and spotted dozens of the nymphs and adult squash bugs running around the plants, scurrying away as I carefully poked around, trying to calculate the damage.
There were simply too many to pick off by hand, so I checked out other options on the Mother Earth News website—we subscribe to the magazine—and found an interesting article and discussion thread about squash bug management. One reader claimed to have sucked up all the squash bugs with a Shop-Vac about ¼ full of water. We just happen to have a Wet/Dry Shop-Vac, so Michael couldn’t resist.
He sucked up as many squash bugs as he could find that evening, and we continue to check for more and monitor our little zucchini plants that we seeded just a couple weeks ago, hoping to avoid the early summer squash bug rush.
And what did Michael think of this method? He pumped his arms and fists and said it was “very satisfying.”