Squash Bug Control: 8 Ways to Kick their Butts in the Garden

Squash bug control

Squash bugs are notorious for destroying your pumpkins and squashes.  They suck the life out of your leaves.Then, they invade your house in the winter.  I am not sure who is worse–the squash bug or the squash vine borer.  (Learn some tricks on keeping the vine borer hopefully out of the garden.)  I think the squash bug is worse since if you squish it, it smells horrible.

In my zone, they start laying eggs in June.  In fact, in July I saw a squash bug lay eggs.  So you need to stay vigilant the whole summer!.

Squash Bug Control:

Since I am trying to keep them out of the garden, I researched and found the following ideas.  (See my comments after several of the recommendations.)

1.  Put row covers on the plants until they blossom.  (In my garden,  they were laying eggs in July way after the squash blossom.  You might need to hand pollinate and keep the covers on.)

2.  Do leaf checks every day.  Just think if you remove their eggs, you destroyed a dozen potential squash bugs. (Add that to your list of leaf checks–kale, cabbage, squash, etc.)

3.  Keep  an old board near the  squash or pumpkin plant.  They like to congregate under the boards at night.  In the morning, turn over the board and pick them up and drop them into soapy water.  (Squash bugs stink when you squish them.)  Alternatively, read Mother Earth’s squash bug squishing technique.

4. Planting nasturtiums around the plants may thwart them.  I have nasturtiums planted in my garden; however, my vines are suspended. I just swatted at one tonight which was all the way at the top of my vine.  She laughed at me and said, “see you later, sucker.”   Literally…

5.   Some people swear by using an garlic and onion spray which the bugs reportedly dislike.  ( Read HERE for some recipes using garlic and onion.)

6.  Don’t use mulch under your squash and pumpkins since they love to hide in there.   Honestly, this is really hard for me to do since it holds in the moisture.  In addition, I just started growing my vines on trellises.  If you let your squash and pumpkins roam then the leaves will shade the ground to keep it moist.

7.  Colorado State University  Extension suggests using diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants.  This product feels like little razors to the bugs so it keeps them away from the plants.


This may deter the squash bugs since the bugs congregate around the base of the plants.   (You can buy it HERE.) 

8.  Dispose of your vines each season.  Don’t just leave them on the ground in your garden.

If you do find eggs on your squash vines or leaves, read tomorrow on how to  use this handy method of taking off the eggs without ripping the leaves.

Join the conversation:

How do you keep Squash Bugs at bay in your garden?

Squash bug picture by Squeezy Boy

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    Squash bugs! I was over run with squash bugs last year, summer of 2013. Determined to do something, I put up a bird feeder near the garden area last fall, which previously had been in the front yard. Birds beneficial to the garden were coming to the feeder, i.e. cardinals, tufted titmouse, sparrows, etc were in the habit of coming to the feeder. As spring and summer brought out the veggie and flower garden, the birds devoured the squash bugs! I did almost nothing, except invest in some bird seed.

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    momof6 says

    This is myfirst summer growing squash &zucchini. I noticed a few bugs as I was picking ripe squash a few weeks ao but didnt think much of it. Its a garden afterall,right? Then I noticedthat my plants seemed to be dying. Very quickly. I saw many more of those bugs and decided to google ‘squash bugs’ not knowing where else to start. Ugh… they were a real thingand quickky multiplied to kill 24 of my30 plants! I made a solution of water and environmentally friendly dish detergent (costco brand) & sprayed every bug I saw twicw daily for a week. Thought things were under control, took a day or two off, only to find they killed off 3 more plants. I pulled all the dead plants up, bagged them, and went straight to the curb. Noway im composting those! So I haveb1 zucchini and 2 squash left. tempted to pull them up too so I can plant my pumpkins (on the other end of the garden) and hope the squash bugs dont find them.
    Next year, I know what to look for and will spray the bugs and eggs. Will keep a look out for those worms from yiur video too.
    What else can I do to make my plants less of a target? Would cages help? My plants were super viney. Not sure they would grow up if prompted. I put down mulch to deter my neighbors cats from using my garden as a litter box. I won’tdo that again next year either. And to top it off, I left a great zucchini to grow on the vine one more day and found this beautiful green caterpillar with red on his head munching away onit this morning. So zucchini to compost and worm got squished under a pavingstone. Clearly my firstyear with squash was not a success but I learned a lot!

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