How do I stop squash bugs next year in the garden?
I have a major infestation of what seems to be squash bugs. They destroyed my winter squash, demolished my pumpkin plants and have started on my cucumbers. Since it's the end of the season, I'm more concerned with next year. How do I keep them from coming back? Can I till the old plants under? Should I pull them up and burn them? I'd like to stay as organic as possible, but am open to pesticides if needed.
Antrim County Michigan
Your little pals will overwinter in debris in and around the garden. This means everything has got to go. Burn the debris to make sure their bug numbers are diminished. In June, the eggs that are laid earlier will hatch. The kids are small and gray and stay under leaves. They also shelter under the plants so don't use any mulch.
The eggs are small, oval and copper-colored and laid where the leaf veins come together on the bottom of the leaves. Find the eggs and crush them or scratch them off into a small container of soapy water. If you drop them, they hatch. You could use diatomaceous earth at the base of plants on the ground or possibly a pyrethrin. When you see the little gray squash bugs under the leaves, you can spray them with insecticidal soap.
You will have to become a dedicated and ruthless squash bug hunter, starting in mid June. If you are after them every evening or almost every evening, you can drop your destructive population that are ruining your cucurbits. Become that ninja hunter.