Organic pest management of squash bugs

A yellow summer squash plant infested with squash bugs in a gard

Description

The following tools and techniques provide some examples of organic pest management (IPM) tactics for squash bugs (Anasa tristis) using the “Four T” method.

Target

Squash bugs adults are the (1st) stages emerge from their overwinter places. The second (2nd) target will be the eggs that are laid by the female adult squash bugs. The third (3rd) target will be the young nymphs that emerge from the eggs that are most vulnerable to treatments.

Timing

General calendar time: Adult squash bugs emerge between late April and late May (in Minnesota)
Biofix: Scout for nymphs 7‐14 days after observing first adults and egg masses.
Degree days: For squash bugs, the emphasis is on taking action when the larvae are young and vulnerable. Degree days for squash bugs are not known.

Tool(s)

Tool #1: Monitor for squash bug adults and their egg masses (Type: Monitoring/Trapping)

Squash bug adults gather under debris. You can use this in the early part of the season to monitor for when they will emerge.

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Tool #2: Plant a crop that is resistant to squash bugs (Type: Cultural)

Plant a known resistant varieties such as Butternut, Royal Acorn, Sweet Cheese. Ask your vendor about varieties that are known to be resistant to squash bug damage.

Tool #3a: Plant a trap crop (Type: Cultural)

Plant a perimeter of Blue Hubbard squash to attract squash bug adults. When adults squash bugs are first seen, apply an organically approved contact pesticide on just the trap crop. Trap crop plants can also be removed/destroyed when eggs masses are observed to prevent a generation of squash bugs from spreading to the primary crop.

Tool #3b: Apply organic-approved pesticides (Type: Chemical) 

Apply organically-approved pesticides such as Pyganic, a pyrethrin-based biopesticides on trap crops when adults are first seen.

Techniques

  • Early. Apply treatments when adults are colonizing, mating, and reproducing.
  • Always avoid spraying on or near flowers to prevent contact with bees.
Tool #3c: Apply Beauvaria bassiana to reduce nymphs (Type: Biochemical)

If you are not able to suppress a certain number of adults or prevent egg lay, you might consider applying the biological insecticide Beauvaria bassiana. When the B. bassiana spores come into contact with squash bug nymphs, there’s a good chance they will not reach their reproductive age.

The white fuzzy entomopathic fungi Beauvaria bassiana kills insects that come into contact with its spores.
The white fuzzy entomopathic fungi Beauvaria bassiana kills insects that come into contact with its spores.

Techniques

  • Treat plants as soon as possible after squash bug eggs are observed.
  • Treat plants during periods when rain is not forecasted.
  • When using a biopesticide like B. bassiana, ensure that you cover the underside of leaves and reach the critical crown/interior portions of the plant.
Tool #3d: Treat plants with insecticidal soap to affect nymphs
When used correctly, insecticidal soaps are effective against younger stages of squash bugs.

Techniques

  • Treat plants as soon as possible after eggs are first observed.
  • Treat plants during periods when rain is not forecasted.
  • When using insecticidal soaps, ensure that you cover the underside of leaves and reach the crown or interior portions of the plant
Tool #4: Use row cover material to protect crops

Row covers provide a high degree of protection from insects and additional protection from sun/wind exposure.

Techniques

  • Setup row covers before adults are seen. Keep watch to ensure that adults do not emerge from under plant cover.
low greenhouses, plastic film on the ground, growing seedlings or early vegetables
“Low greenhouses” help protect young plants from frost damage and plant pests like squash bugs

Control measures outside of the season

  • Habitat such as logs or lumber, around your growing area may provide habitat for squash vine borers. Sometimes leaf piles are simply unavoidable part of gardening. If possible, remove unnecessary debris and place in compost bin away from growing areas.
pile of yard debris
When you compost debris from your garden, it provides less stable habitat for squash bugs, who like to hide and congregate under logs, lumber, stick and leaf piles. 

Contact us

Contact Green Noise LLC at info@massglobalmegacorp.com

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