Every year I battle the squash vine borer. I must lose a couple of pumpkins and squashes every year. Luckily I have saved my zucchinis by cutting out the worm. Last year, I wrote about how to be pro-actively prevent them from laying their eggs. (Read HERE.) If any of my methods don’t work, you have to don your doctor hat and do some corrective surgery. Remove the squash vine borer worm. Be sure to watch the video below.
No, you won’t faint. No blood here. Just a nasty dark headed white worm.
How do I know if I should worry?
#1 You spot a red and black wasp look alike in your garden
If you see the below moth, you are on high alert. It looks like a red wasp. They move fast so it isn’t easy to pick them up and throw them in soapy water. In my zone 6, they start showing up around mid- June, they emerge from their cocoons. I only have one round with this guy or gal. If you live in a warmer area, you might have 2 different meetings.
Photo by Jim, the photographer.
#2 Orange gook coming out of your squashes!
If you see orange junk that looks like sweet potatoes coming out of your squash, then Houston, we have a problem.
#3 Mysterious Wilting
Your plants mysteriously start wilting. This isn’t a good sign. If you let your plant ramble, you can start putting dirt over certain sections to get them to root just in case the main stem is attacked by the borer.
Okay, you found orange goop coming out of your plant…
How to Remove Squash Vine Borer
Don’t do what I do. I panic and swear like a sailor since I absolutely hate these bugs. Okay, I don’t like the corn-worms either.
Be calm and get your doctor’s kit.
What you will need:
- Knife. I prefer a box cutter
- OMRI approved BT for organic gardening. (Such as this one.)
- Needle (optional) I like a small needle about a 1/2 inch length or thin wire that you sterilize.
- Your glasses (if you wear them.)
- Soapy pale of water unless you intend to crush them like no tomorrow.
- Aluminium foil
You will need to either:
- Inject BT into the frass using a small needle. I used both a 3/10 cc 1/2 inch needle and a 1.5 inch syringe. I liked the 1/2 inch needle so much better than the 1.5 inch needle for injecting BT into the plant. You want a thin needle because you are injecting into a solid non-hollow surface so the smaller the needle the better. I use the other needle to stab around the stem to see if I can kill the worm. Worms are about 1/4 or 1/2 inch away from the frass. (Be careful not to bend the 1.5 inch needle as you poke the stem.)
- Cut out the worm. He or she is really hard to see since they are white which is the same color as the inside of the squash! (Hence, why you should don your glasses.) Also, there may be more than one. (See this picture so you can identify the worm.) Do not cut through both sides of the squash.
- Or take a sterilized wire and put into the frass hole and move it up and down to try and kill the worm. Also, inject BT into the hole.
Oh, and did I tell you to watch the video!
After you have completed the surgery, put dirt on top of the cut, and cover it up with aluminium. Cover as much of the stem as humanly possible.
I found that I had to use one needle per plant so please dispose of your needles responsibly. (Check out Safe Needle Disposal.)
The moth could come back and lay eggs so you have about an 8 week window to be vigil. Every week, check for new activity.
If you are vigil, you will be swimming in yummy zucchini, squash, and/or pumpkins.
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How do you deal with the squash vine borer?
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