How to kill squash bugs

macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)July 29, 2007

How do I effectively kill squash bugs? An organic solution is preferred but I'm not opposed to use chemicals if organics are not effective.

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Put on gloves, have a small container of water with some dish soap and start picking them and putting them in the water to drown.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 1:35PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Here is a link to several discussions on them including organic controls. Just scroll down to the posts with the blue frames. Good luck.


Here is a link that might be useful: Squash bug controls

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 4:15PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I have a section 25 x 15 feet of solid vines. Uh..

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 8:59PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

Soap bucket is good.
Or Use duct tape (or any tape) like fly paper to stick to them. Probably better to get the eggs with tape BEFORE they hatch. Stick it on the eggs pull it off. Kinda like waxing?

Both are time consuming but very effective AND very organic.

Good Luck,

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 9:08PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It's too late for the standard organic controls of row covers and in an area that large your best organic bet then is likely spraying with Neem oil or using diatomaceous earth. But it is only somewhat effective. You will also need to do egg patrols and hand-picking to insure a good degree of control. Soap spray (1 T of liquid soap in 1 gallon of water) sprayed directly on the bugs (not the leaves and never in the heat of day) will also help. Some also recommend the use of a rotennone or permethrin based product but I have no personal experience with them so cant say how effective they are on SB. Others will know more about them.

If you decide to give up on the organic approach then it is the pesticide of your choice but insure that it specifies squash bugs.

Good luck.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 10:22PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

If you don't have a lot of plants....

My favorite method...I can't believe Dave (digdirt) didn't mention it.

Spray all parts of the plants with your waterhose once a day....give em a nice shower. Wait a few minutes and watch as the squash bugs come to dry out on the tops of the leaves. Pluck and drown in soapy water. It's so rewarding!

I haven't seen a squash bug in a week but I have plucked as many as 15-20 in a day if I don't stay on top of it.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 12:08AM
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sounds like more work than the tape thingy

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 12:32AM
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rosebush(z7 NC)

Just have to suggest planting tansy among your squash/pumpkins to repel squash bugs. I used fern-leaf tansy, which smells kind of like eucalyptus, and have had great results. It does tend to spread, but I just pull up and transplant to other areas. It is the best companion plant I've found so far in terms of repelling insects.

1 Like    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:52AM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

"sounds like more work than the tape thingy"

I don't think so. What? 10-15 minutes a week??

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 9:08AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Sorry Peggy, my post was intended for Wayne and I should have indicated that. He does have alot of plants. ;)

25 x 15 feet of solid vines

I hand pick too but that sounds like too many plants for hand pickin'. *grin*


    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 10:09AM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

Yes...definitely not practical for Wayne:)

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 2:00PM
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friesfan1(5b NW-KS)

When Killing squash bugs last year, I just filled a
spray bottle with soapy water, and sprayed. They died
within a few minutes. I have them again this year.
Unfortunately they are doing a number on my zucchini.

z 5b KS

    Bookmark   August 9, 2007 at 4:06PM
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The soap water really works you have to try it because they do start falling off the plants. I just tried it today 8/29/08. It really works trust me. You ad soap I don't think it matters what kind but i used dawn. you put about 1/4 inch of soap in to a small squirt bottle then fill the rest up with water "DO NOT SHAKE UP". Then go out there and spray the bugs they will start dying after a few minutes.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 11:57AM
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Thank you Gumby for the duct tape idea, I just got back from using that method in the garden and I must have gotten 200 eggs. I usually just pop them between my fingernails but it would harm the leaf quite a bit in the process. This is a gentle, no fuss option. Thank you!!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 4:22PM
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I used a spray bottle with 2 Tablespoons of Euchaliptus oil and water. It seems that they don't like the odor.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 11:07PM
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Checked my zucchini plants today and leaves were absolutely covered with squash bugs. I use Ortho Max Flower, Fruit and Vegetable spray. Kills over 100 different types of bugs and absolutely does not harm your plants. I keep it handy for my peach and plum trees, my hibiscus plants, meyer lemon, roses, tomato plants, etc. Great stuff!

    Bookmark   June 28, 2011 at 2:39PM
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Here is what I do. I take water and spray te under sides of the leaves, around the roots and even some of the other leaves (cukes, etc) just to bring them out into the open. This we know.

Next get a vacuum. I have a shop vac. Turn the sucker on and shhhup shhhup shhhup (this is the sound of little bugs heading down to a pit of h***!) Then I dump the little guys into a bock trash bag rift away, tie, and dump in my garbage can!

Note: I had wood shavings in there which sticks To their wet little bodies. :)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2011 at 6:16PM
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Def. the best method for me is watering, waiting for a bit then going on the attack. Squishing them is gratifying but man oh man do these things stink! Very powerful odor (which is why some call them stink bugs). They aren't fast and hardly move while you move in for the kill. I have them on my pumpkins and zuchinni.

Also, checking for eggs every few days limits their numbers, I just pinch off the offending leaf and chuck it in the trash. They lay 100's of eggs, so check every leaf if possible. Much easy to kill off 100s at a time then to wait for the hatch. I've done it this year and am down to maybe one or two a day to kill. You have to be vigilant, however. Check every single day. Miss a week and your squash will suffer!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 10:27AM
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I'm heading to my garden just as soon as this heat abates. I have been checking leaves for eggs and committing murder after spraying water for the past several weeks. Winter squash definitely is the worst. I place my collected squash bugs in a bottle I keep in the garden for things like slugs, squash bugs and eggs. I have chlorox bleach in water and just keep adding to it as the season unfolds. I've already lost one Hubbard, and one of two Butterbush is showing signs.... So Im going in and ripping out all of the fabric mulch and soaking the soil for the next several mornings and evenings. Then I'm trying pyrethin (sp?) based product because I just don't think the neem oil (2 applications a week apart) did much. Trying a new variety of yellow squash this year, Golden Egg, in a different bed... It's had a ton of those suckers but is still looking good. Am just beginning to find squash bugs on my cukes ... War!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2013 at 5:46PM
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I use my VACUUM to suck them up! It seems I never get rid of all of them, but I haven't lost any plants. I also squish the eggs. Be sure to plug up the end of the hose if you don't empty the vacuum, I found one trying to crawl out. Miserable little buggers!

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 11:24AM
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We did the tape thing and boy oh boy we got a ton of eggs, appx 400-500 (no exaggeration). There are still more but we watered and watch them come to the surface then caught the adults and pulled them off and drowned them in a bowl of water. We caught 33 of them pests. After the leaves dry I am going to go back out there and go over the leaves again. Also we found the eggs on both the top and bottom of the leaves. So check both sides. Now to find something to plant along side so we can try and prevent this from happening next year.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 3:52PM
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By this time of year it's getting hard to fight my way into the vines to harvest the summer squash, let alone check every leaf.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 8:04PM
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myluck(5 In)

I also have the 15x 40 ft. sea of vines. I planted late,4th of July, hoping to miss the svb season. Earlier I planted a row of nasturtiums and marigolds down the middle of the space. When I planted the squash seeds, I planted a hardy geranium inbetween each plant. Now they are all under the vines somewhere. I have only seen about 5 squash bugs (adult) and 10 clusters of eggs. Which is nothing compared to last year.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 8:53PM
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I'm not intimidated by the squash bugs or their stink. I water my plants like others suggested, then I go look for them, and squash the squash bugs with my bare fingers . I just crush them very quickly . The stink doesn't bother me that much. I just wash my hands with soap afterwards.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2013 at 10:13PM
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me and my mate were having a gaming session when one entered the lounge.

we used a combination of linx deodorant and flash kitchen cleaner. it disabled it for a while but it came back at us like the die hard beetle it surely is. eventually after discovering it was on his neck, my mate flapped like an old woman and stamped on it.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 10:39AM
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I went to an organic gardening conference and someone said to till in ground bay leaf prior to planting. I did this for 2 years and no squash bugs. I forgot this year, and I have squash bugs. I am back to killing them daily. I use a scissors to grab them then cut them in half in a pan I bring with me. I scrap the eggs in the pan and squash them or put them far away.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 1:56PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

One thing that works well is to stomp all the remaining green leaves at the end of the season. The bugs congregate there late in the season. Also they collect on any remaining fruits.

Kill off the all the adults at the end of the season and you start with a pretty clean slate next year. If you have neighjbors with squash or pumpkins, you need to do that for them too. LOL

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 3:15PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"If you have neighjbors with squash or pumpkins, you need to do that for them too. LOL"

I can just picture the destruction... Wayne, a.k.a. "the midnight stomper". Sort of gives squash patch a whole new meaning. ;-)

On the relatively rare occasions when I see squash bugs, I use a solution of soap (dish or baby shampoo), rubbing alcohol, and water in a horse spray bottle. If you are concerned about leaf burn, you can use Safers as the soap... or you can just rinse the leaves off after the spray has done its work. Provided that the bugs are completely covered by the spray, they die very quickly, within a minute or two. This works on all stages. I've even sprayed it on egg masses, and checking a day later, they were brown & dead.

The best way to kill squash bugs (as well as SVB & cucumber beetles) is to not get them in the first place. In dense urban areas, or within a community garden, this is not always possible... the resident populations are just too high. But if the garden is fairly isolated from other squash growers, floating row cover is a good solution. Cover the plants immediately after planting (if transplants) or before germination (if direct seeded). Keep the plants covered until they begin blooming, or until they outgrow the cover. In my area, by the time I remove the cover, the egg laying period for most squash pests has passed... SVB in particular. Compared to SVB, the reduction in squash bugs is just a fringe benefit.

For summer squash, if you don't mind getting your zukes late, a mid-summer planting might avoid nearly all squash pests.

Last year, heavy June rains kept me from planting squash on time, so instead of long-season winter squashes, I planted short DTM summer squashes. This was over the July 4th weekend. I didn't feel like laying row cover, so I over planted the zukes & yellow straightneck, expecting heavy losses. Much to my surprise, there was no SVB, no squash bugs, no cucumber beetles... nothing. In spite of the late planting, I found myself drowning in zukes, and froze enough to last the winter.

Still have about 20 pints left... good thing too, since it looks like yet another late, very wet Spring. :-(

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:02PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

zeedman, We can laugh about stomping at the right time, but I say it is the very best answer.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 10:05PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I was laughing at the image of you dressed in camo, creeping through the neighborhood assassinating squash bugs. Hey, it's been a never-ending Winter up here, I take my amusement where I can find it. ;-)

Stomping is not a bad solution as part of a control program, Wayne, and I've used it myself a few times in the past - after frost left nothing for the bugs to feed on but the immature squash left in the field. The nymphs would be clustered together on the squash, and easy to kill. (Personally, I still prefer soap spray to stomping).

But it also means that all efforts of prevention or control up to that point have failed. If large numbers are allowed to reach adulthood, chances are that enough of them will survive in the surrounding area to re-infest the following Spring. In that case, after killing the easy targets, it would be advisable to thoroughly destroy any nearby debris in the Fall which might shelter the adults.

Of course, as you pointed out, that too would be a pointless endeavor unless your neighbors with neglected gardens did the same. Been there, done that... sometimes it's just a losing battle. I'm fortunate that my rural garden is isolated enough that early prevention/control methods are usually effective.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 9:36PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

I have only 1 neighbor with squash type plants. I don't destroy the surrounding barriers as I live in the country and need barriers against field spraying. Actually, if faithfully done, killing any adults in the fall works pretty good.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 10:11AM
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I've tried just about all these methods with the exception of planting later, and if I can make myself wait maybe that would help. Our daughter planted a big pumpkin patch in an area that didn't have anything planted before, and there are lots of squash bugs and too many plants to rely on picking the bugs off, unless that's your full-time job. We pick off eggs and squish the bugs or spray them with soap water which works great but only kills the bugs you hit with it. As the plants started dying off I got frustrated to the point of using chemicals a couple times, using a long sprayer arm to target just the vines those bugs love to eat while trying to avoid getting any on the flowers to avoid harming bees but I doubt that's completely possible.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2014 at 9:49AM
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