Our first few years of gardening, we had squash and zucchini running out of our ears. They grew like weeds! Just about every meal included these tasty summer delights. Sauteed, roasted, grilled, fried, stuffed, raw, pickled. You name it, we did it, and we STILL had plenty to give away to family and friends.
Last year though, I barely got any. It’s a sad sad summer when I’m not swimming in a sea of summer squash.
I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. We had planted them just like we always had in quality soil and watered with rain water. We did everything “right”, but it seemed like something was overtaking them. My plants looked extremely stressed and they eventually all died, only yielding me a few zucchini and squash per plant.
I began seeing these grey beetles. I call them death bugs because they look like death themselves. Very grim. A little while later, I began seeing these mysterious things showing up on my leaves.
In all honesty, they are quite pretty and look like tiny bee bees, but I knew they looked like trouble.
I kept getting more and more and more and my plants were getting increasingly stressed. The death bugs multiplied and after some research, I found out I had a bad case of squash bugs. Those bad boys will destroy a squash or zucchini plant in no time flat. The bee bee looking clusters were in fact their eggs, ready to hatch and wreak havoc on my precious squash and zucchini plants. You do NOT want squash bugs in your garden. I learned the hard way.
This year, I had a plan. I was going to nip them in the bud from the beginning. I was prepared for them. Every day or two I go outside and inspect my plants for about ten minutes. I look on top of the leaves and on the underneath side. Most of the time they are underneath the leaves, but they can be on both. I’ve also seen them on the stem a few times.
You want to remove them gently somehow without doing damage to the plant itself. I have found the best method is to use a piece of tape. I’ve used duct tape, packing tape, and really anything that is sticky. Quinn from Reformation Acres taught me this trick. She also has a few more ideas on how to get rid of adults, so check out her website. It’s very helpful.
Removing the eggs is easy. Put the sticky part of the tape on the eggs. Press and gently remove. It may take a few times to get them all off, but keep at it. Then fold over the tape, squish them, and throw it away. It’s a task that is a mix of somewhat gross and somewhat rewarding and fun. It actually reminds me of those clear pore strips we used to use back in the day for our noses.
Look at all of those eggs on the tape! Ewww!
If you do find any adult squash bugs, kill them too. Step on them, squish them, trap them with tape, whatever it takes to get them gone. It’s no time to be a softie. They are out to destroy your squash plants. Don’t let them.
By nipping this problem from the start and picking off these eggs every couple of days, I have saved myself lots of heartache this year. Yes, it is a little bit of work, but it’s worth it. We have our big beautiful plants back that are producing tons of squash and zucchini.
I have heard that if you wait to plant your squash and zucchini later in the season, it helps you avoid the squash bugs, but I don’t know if that is true or not. I’ll stick with the tape…pun intended.