Vertical squash to TRY to stop squash vine borers

larry_c(z6 Stl. Mo.)April 5, 2010

Yes someone in my neighborhood must breed these critters. (looks away and says surely not me) In any event they infest my crop every year. So my thought.

I have a box about 30" square, 2" x 2" in each corner run 7 feet tall with top boards that forms a square trellis. It has steel wire wrapped around the 2" x 2" on about 12" centers. I have Snow peas growing here now which will be done in mid June. So I could sow a couple of yellow crook neck squash for transplant when the peas finish.

The thought is to grow the squash vertically and then be able to completely protect that base of the plant. The bottom boards are about 6" high. I could pin row cover fabric to these boards and basically make the stems entrance into the ground non-accessible.

So the question is will this stop the SVB or will they just lay eggs in the lowest part of the vine that they can get to ?

This would also make me much more comfortable with Sevin dusting the vine base as the squash would form up in the air.

This may also deter the dreaded squash bug since the vines would be off of the ground.

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I would not place any money on this method, but you will never know until you try. Experimenting and trying to outwit pests is half the fun in growing things.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 8:57PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


You can perhaps prevent any SVBs in YOUR soil from attacking your plants, since the moths emerge in the spring and lay their eggs on host plants, but there isn't much you can do about those lurking in your neighbors' soil unless you can put row cover on the exposed plants to prevent the egg-laying on your squash.

Here is a link that might be useful: Life Cycle, Squash Vine Borer

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 9:16PM
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bella_trix(z6b SE PA)

Unfortunately, growing vertically will not prevent SVBs. They will lay eggs all along any exposed vine, even at the very top and on the leaves. Then they bore down the plant to the base. I've been on an organic mission against the buggers for the last few years.

You can, however, trellis two vining summer squash that are resistant to SVB. Tatume and Trombichino (also called Tromba d'Albenga) are two very good varieties. Trombachino is a butternut relative used as a summer squash - very tasty but slightly different than zucchini. Tatume tastes the same as zucchini(well, better) in my opinion.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 9:50PM
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You can grow onions, garlic, and cloves next to your squash to prevent the bug.

Here is a link that might be useful: companion planting

    Bookmark   April 5, 2010 at 10:34PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Two methods of dealing with the hated SVB that I haven't seen here, from ATTRA:

"A method in use to control squash vine borer is syringe injection of the bacterial insecticide Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) into each vine by hand."

"An experimental technique for squash bug control is companion planting with repellant plantsÂcatnip, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums, or marigolds, beebalm, or mints. For more information on such strategies, ask for ATTRAÂs Companion Planting publication."

Here is a link that might be useful: ATTRA - organic SVB & SB controls

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 12:10AM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

I lost all of my winter squash in 2009 to SVB. EXCEPT Seminole Squash. I have done research over the winter and talked to our Ag Extention Agency folks. The result is Cucurbita moschata. There are many winter squash in this family. According to the Ag Extension folks and most (not all) of my research the stems/vines of Cucurbita moschata are solid so the SVB can not burrow inside. I now search catalogs and online ONLY for seeds of squash and/or pumpkins in the Cucurbita moschata sub-family. The others in the cucurbita are c. pepo, c. mixta, c maxima. -- I think there are others but not sure.

My intention last season was to use mosquite netting to completely cover my vines but after I saw the seminole totally defeat the SVB I decided that I would only grow Cucurbita moschata this year. I plan to also grow the summer c. moshata -- it is called zucchetta rampicante.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 3:28AM
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shebear(z8 NCentralTex)

I did notice something with my squash vine borer moth this past year. It likes to come by the plants early in the morning and just before dusk. I caught a few that way and got rid of them myself.

Some plants can deal with the borer for a long time and some are just too weak. The Trombochino just kept growing and seemed to ignore the pest but unfortunately I wasn't all that fond of the squash itself. I just keep trying and hope for the best. I did try the injection method and that one plant lasted for a long time so it might work. I suggest doing it before the plant is attacked.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 8:23AM
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larry_c(z6 Stl. Mo.)

Well I guess the battle will rage. I want my yellow crook neck. I will just have to watch it and plant new ones every month. I know about the BT and have the setup. It isn't always easy to find the damage in time.

I tried radish's before and was not impressed. I could surround the box with marigolds this year and see if that helps. I guess I could also pull a garlic bulb, and an onion, and split it out for the box.

Thanks for the help here.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 8:24AM
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anney(Georgia 8)


Just so you know, aphids love marigolds and flock to them. But if you see daddy long-legs hanging round, you'll know they're dealing with the aphids. Sometimes we just have to hang loose and battle the pests with our bare hands or let their enemies do it!

Last year this guy was hanging round the marigold plant growing nearby. And I thought he just liked the squash plants that he seemed to favor as his shade-porch.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 10:09AM
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susancol(7 Atlanta)

I plant nasturtiums and marigolds every year, both for the bug preventative and bee beneficial properties. The SVB's laugh at them. For all I know they lay their eggs right on them. Certainly haven't been deterred by them.

I'm in the c.moschata camp. My butternuts did best last year. So I'm going for more c. maschatas and am even trying the Trombochino this year as a summer squash.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 10:13AM
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"You can also try to use a squash vine borer barrier. This can be done by wrapping the base of the plant in a light, stretch material, such as nylon. This will prevent the squash pest from being able to get into the plant.

Preventing squash vine borer pests is the best control that you have when it comes to these annoying squash pests."â©=en&page=shop.product_details&product_id=615&pop=1&tmpl=component

Above is a store bought insecticide for some bugs made from cayenne peppers.

Above url has lots of preventive tips that look worth a try.

One tips says "Using Insecticides

Using Natural Insect Repellents
There are several natural insect repellents that often kill the moth of the Squash Vine Borer on contact, but also serves as a repellent by creating a bad taste for the critter and make it go someplace else to munch and lay eggs. Neem Oil Soap, Hot Pepper Wax, and Garlic Barrier all have this potential repellent capability when applied properly on the tops and the bottoms of leaves of the target plant at least two weeks before you expect the Moth to arrive, probably around the first of May. The repelling effect will last for several weeks to a month depending on the weather conditions, so you may wish to add another application every two weeks or so."

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 12:41PM
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The Tromboncino worked well for me last year too. All of my acorn squash were killed by SVB, but the Tromboncino survived.

I'm growing them again this year, and trying something new -Cavili squash, which is parthenocarpic so I can leave it completely covered with light agribon.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 1:47PM
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Details about the BT injection method please. Where to buy the syringe, how big a shot, dilution, etc. Has anyone tried covering the stem with glue? Or spraying just the stem with Rotenone or other insecticide?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 9:01PM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

I used the type syringe intended for turkey and other meats. They are in Wal*Mart cooking department and also Tar*get. It did not work for me but some find it very helpful.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 2:59AM
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bella_trix(z6b SE PA)

Glib -

This is something I wrote up explaining how I injected BT and Nematodes for SVB control:

For injecting BT into SVB infected squash stems, I make up the BT at 1 teaspoon (liquid BT) to 1 cup of water (more concentrated). I've done this with Thuricide and one other type (can't remember the name). I use a 3ml syringe and a 16 to 18g needle. You can probably use a 20g and be OK. Any thing smaller (meaning larger number) might be too small. Human medical needles are usually insulin syringe needles of about 27g to 30g and are much too small. You can find larger gauge needles in Livestock supply stores (look for Farm and Ranch stores, Tractor Supply Company, Feed stores - Agway, etc or horse supply stores). They should have the larger syringes, too. I inject about 1 ml in the area of the SVB damage, sometimes more. I've also injected BT into the base of healthy squash as a preventative.

WEAR SAFETY GLASSES OR GOGGLES WHEN INJECTING THE BT!!! This is very important! The squash vine can block the needle. When this happens, the needle separates from the syringe and the BT will shoot back with great pressure directly into your eyes. Not a good idea. Also, please buy a sharps container at the drugstore for disposal of your needles. Trash collectors do not like to get stabbed with un-known needles. You can also keep and re-use the needles.

Prior to infection (or if the SVB are still laying) you can spray the outside of the squash stems with BT at 1 tablespoon to a gallon. Again, wear goggles. The BT really irritates the eyes.

I have had injecting BT work very well for the last three years. Two years ago, I injected both BT and beneficial nematodes and saved many of my already wilting squash. I never knew whether it was the BT or the nematodes that worked. Two years ago, I used BT alone on a few sacrificial squash and worked well. I have saved several that were infected and recovered.

Good luck,

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 3:19PM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

There is also some way of using kaolin clay against SVB, but I don't understand how to do it, or how it works. The clay is available pretty cheap from pottery-making places, but what do you do with it???


    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 12:57AM
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larry_c(z6 Stl. Mo.)

I used an old nasal spray bottle to inject the BT. The hole required in the plant is a tad bigger, but, it was easy to clear the nozzle with a needle when it got clogged. I marked the bottle and even this small amount lasted for what I needed. But I was late on many of them and the damage was done.
Most dollar stores sell nasal spray or some kind of squeeze bottle. I cleaned this bottle with dish soap and let it dry out for a few days to minimize any residual chemicals. Yes polyethylene (plastic)will absorb these chemicals. Less than 1% but better safe than sorry.

I am still going to warp the base with row cover fabric :)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 7:55AM
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Now yall got me scared, I thought all I had to worry about was aphids and white flys! I found aphids on my broccoli yesterday, its the only plants not planted with marigolds. If I knew about mint I would have interspersed its planting too. I am getting ladybugs today. I have planted yellow crookneck and zucchini squashes in containers on my porch. they seem to be thriving!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 8:51AM
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thanks Bella.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2010 at 8:53PM
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I have read (but not tried) that you can also mound dirt over the vine, it will cause rooting as well, so whether or not the SVB has attacked, your vine will have roots further up the vine.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 7:47AM
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I grew radishes with my squash last year, and they seemed to work with a few specific conditions... the squash RIGHT NEXT TO the radishes (like inches away) were not hit by SVB, while the ones just a couple feet away were. I also planted the radishes early and let them go to seed, so they were pretty big by the time the SVB arrived. It's just my N of 1 for one year, but I'm trying it again this year! I'm willing to sacrifice a few radishes for this if it works!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 6:11PM
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I'm panic stricken right now because we saw an SVB sitting on a leaf of one of my cucumber plants yesterday. My wife and I inspected every squash and melon type plant we've got in our garden and removed 15-20 eggs total sparsed between the yellow crookneck, zucchini, butternut squash, acorn squash, casper pumpkins and jack-o-lantern pumpkins. Needless to say I'm very sad, as we had just finished dealing with a load of stick bugs and squash bugs and thought we were doing well combating these pests, and along come the dreaded SVBs. I really haven't found a single thing that definitely works outside of putting up netting, but there's also a twofold problem with that solution for me:
1) Since eggs have already been deposited at one point, I'm afraid I'll be "sealing them in"
2) I grow my vines on cattle panels, of which are huge and would take a metric ton of netting to cover.

I guess what I can learn from this is that I need to keep these covered next season. Some of the other remedies I'm hoping will work are growing garlic, radishes, using the garlic barrier stuff and choosing varieties that they don't necessarily like, or just planting some kind of trap plant. I've also read up on pheromone traps that might work too, as well as someone was saying that the SVBs like the color yellow, so if you fill a bright yellow bowl up with water that you should find them dead in the water.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 11:58AM
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Hey y'all! Thanks so much for the tips; I've learned a lot from this thread already. Question: cucurbita moschata sounds like a great idea and I'd like to try that; are there any winter squash types that grow in more of a bush form? I happen to love Hubbard squash, and don't have a lot of space, so am trying the bush pink banana, from The Cook's Garden. Would love to find a "moschata" type like that. ...........and since I love Hubbard squash soooo much, I'm going to remember Bella's tips; thanks!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 9:02AM
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I tried the yellow bowls last year, to no avail. This year we planted our squash in new ground, about 1/4 mile from where they had previously been planted. This was wooded area, for at least 35 years (when we moved here) and we now have SVB in all our squash and zukes. I cut them today. We will probably lose most of them, as they were so far gone, they broke at the ground when I tried to operate on them. I cleaned them good, took off any fruit, and put them back in very wet ground. I'll probably replant as well. My question, how did we get these since it's new ground? We cleared it over the last year, and had it broke in April. What am I missing.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 1:50PM
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Update that marigolds and nasturtiums without flowers did not repel the svb,neither did my homemade concoction of tobacco, redpeppers, black pepper, vegetable oil, and dish soap. It rained a few hours after I applied it, today new eggs all over them. I'm giving up organic at least with the svb, trying stuff with methoxychor, or best I've heard yet is this:

"A second planting of summer squash made in early July will mature after adult borers have finished laying eggs. "

Another nice suggestion:

"Mulches are known to harbor squash bugs"

"Iowa State University Organics Research Program conducted trials of various control methods for squash bug and squash vine borer. Researchers found that mulching with newspaper and hay, combined with tightly secured row covers on the plots (a level 2 control), provided very effective control of both weeds and squash bugs in pumpkin (C. pepo)Âespecially in the wet season of 2002.(4, 5) The row covers apparently excluded squash bugs, preventing them from entering to lay eggs.

Gauze row covers (e.g., ReemayÂ, AgriforceÂ, AgribonÂ, TufbellÂ) [Section 205.206(b)(1),(2),(3)] physically exclude pests and prevent them from reaching the plants in large numbers. Preventive strategies have become more important with recognition of A. tristis as a probable disease vector.

Hand picking and trapping of A. tristis, or slitting each vine to remove the larva, in the case of M. satyriniformis, represent attempts to control pests after they have begun rearing another generation in numbers sufficient to cause economic damage and pest buildup. Such labor-intensive controls may be uneconomical for large plantings."

"Some products acceptable in organic vegetable production that are effective against squash bugs include diatomaceous earth, sabodilla, and neem oil. Growers that anticipate using materials to control heavy pest infestations must list these materials and the circumstances for their use in their organic systems plan. This plan must be submitted to and approved by the organic certifier before the producer uses any material."

What is a sabodilla? I found a tree by that name, is it the same thing?

Here is a link that might be useful: svb info

    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 5:59PM
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Well, this year, due to family illness, we had to leave for a week, and the borers took advantage of that. Lost all zucchini. But...last year we kept up on them by mixing garlic, onion, and sesame oil in the food processor, draining through cheesecloth, and making a spray by mixing half and half with water. It did not completely eliminate them, but kept them at bay for the most part.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 1:27PM
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christine97(z7b MD)

Joyrobi, I read that svb can fly up to 1/2 mile away, so even though it was new ground they still were able to fly and lay eggs on the plants.

Seems a very bad year for svb and squash bugs and cuke beetles. I think I will take a yr off of squashes except for a pumpkin and a luffa and hide them in the front with the flowers.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2010 at 10:32PM
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