If you’ve ever found that your young squash, pumpkin or zucchini plants are being eaten, your garden may have been invaded by squash bugs. Young squash plants and seedlings are particularly vulnerable to squash bugs, but there are some easy and effective ways to kill them and help keep them under control.
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Squash bugs are really common in the United States, and they can do a lot of damage. For some reason they are really attracted to young squash plants and also lay their eggs on them. Squash bugs feed on the vines, leaves, and fruit of your plants, so it’s important to get a handle on them as soon as you see evidence of them. The longer they’ve had to settle in and reproduce, the harder it is to get rid of them.
What Does a Squash Bug Look Like?
Squash bugs look kind of like and are commonly mistaken for stink bugs, but squash bugs are smaller. They are dark gray or brown, they have a shield-like shape, and they are about half an inch long. They have alternating brown and orange stripes on their abdomens that distinguish them from other similar insects.
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How to Get Rid of Squash Bugs Naturally
There are plants that you can plant near your squash (companion plants) that will help deter squash bugs from invading your garden. Squash bugs seem to not be fond of radishes, catnip, bee balm, mint, marigolds, and calendula. basil, and lavender. Try planting these plants near your squash plants to help keep the squash bugs away.
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Another way to get rid of squash bugs naturally is to keep your garden cleaned up by removing dead and decaying plants throughout the gardening season. Squash bugs are attracted to dead and decaying plants, so their presence will definitely draw them to your garden.
Killing Squash Bugs with Dish Soap
A lot of gardeners have had success with killing squash bugs with dish soap. When you go out to the garden, take a bucket of water with a few squirts of dish soap in it with you. Squash bugs are fairly easy to catch with your hands. Put on a pair of garden gloves, pick them up, and place them in the bucket of soapy water. The water will drown them and keep them from causing more damage to your garden.
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You can also make your own insect spray by adding a teaspoon of dish soap to a liter of water. Add the dish soap mixture to a clean, empty spray bottle, and apply to plants. If you don’t want to make your own, there are organic insect sprays you can buy that are also very effective. These types of sprays will usually kill the bugs on contact.
Will Vinegar Kill Squash Bugs?
Yes, vinegar can be used to kill squash bugs. But if you’re not careful, the acid in the vinegar could kill your plants. It depends on the age and overall health of your plants. You should always dilute vinegar before applying it to your plants. Mix half water and half vinegar and apply to your plant with a spray bottle.
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Try spraying on a small area first to see if your plant is going to have an adverse reaction to the vinegar. If you don’t want to take the chance with vinegar, neem oil is also an effective way to get rid of squash bugs. After you have killed the squash bugs, rinse your plants off with water to remove any excess vinegar.
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