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Hello Guest!
Welcome to the official Square Foot Gardening Forum.
There's lots to learn here by reading as a guest. However, if you become a member (it's free, ad free and spam-free) you'll have access to our large vermiculite databases, our seed exchange spreadsheets, Mel's Mix calculator, and many more members' pictures in the Gallery. Enjoy.

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Squash Vine Borer

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Squash Vine Borer Empty Squash Vine Borer

Post  timwardell 3/10/2010, 12:09 pm

In another topic a few of us have discussed the pure evil that is the Squash Vine Borer. Wanting to help spare other SFGers the anguish of seeing their plants harmed by these pests, I thought I'd give these minions of satan their own discussion.

This is a personal crusade of mine because last year everything was rainbows and sunshine in my garden until the day my kids noticed an ugly red and black winged bug on the leaf of one of my squash plants. I didn't know what it was (it had been years since I last had a garden and perhaps I had repressed all memories of past insect inflicted trauma). However, I soon found out as the spawn of this critter soon caused the death of ALL my squash, zucchini, cantaloupe, cucumber, and watermelon (collectively known as cucurbits).

This video (though not great) provides a good basic overview. I have no idea why it suddenly stops at the end.


Here's another video I found that shows what the buggers look like inside the stems of the squash.
timwardell
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Controls

Post  timwardell 3/10/2010, 12:13 pm

Here are some links that discuss organic controls of the Squash Vine Borer.

this PDF file provides a good overview
http://attra.ncat.org/new_pubs/attra-pub/PDF/squash_pest.pdf?id=Texas

This is a discussion from GardensAlive
http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=804

Also from GardensAlive - their products for control
http://www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?ai=734&eid=092706GA&sid=143449&gclid=CKLItqvNrqACFdpe2godtzpgZQ&bhcd2=1268238822
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Know Thy Enemy

Post  timwardell 3/10/2010, 12:18 pm

Here are some links to information about the SVB (squash vine borer) from agricultural professionals.

A close up photo of the SVB
http://bugguide.net/node/view/330989

Multiple photos of the SVB
http://bugguide.net/index.php?q=search&keys=squash+vine+borer&search=Search

Close up photos of the damage they do from Texas A&M.
http://vegipm.tamu.edu/chewing4/squashvineborer.html
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Advice from Others

Post  timwardell 3/10/2010, 12:23 pm

As I mentioned, this topic began in another forum. To save those that already contributed the trouble of re-posting their comments, I've cut and pasted them here.

From WardinWake
... Control includes removing the larva by slitting the vine were the moth laid her eggs (usually at the base of the vine) and physically removing the larva. After the larva is removed cover the damaged area with soil/Mel's Mix and hope the vine re-roots. As a preventive you can put a sticky substance on the base of the vines (Tanglefoot is one brand) to catch the moth(s). Also an organic insecticide such as Neem Oil can be used if sprayed every few days on the base of the plants. The Organic Gardening Magazine recommends companion planting with onions and garlic and also making a spray out of onions and garlic and spraying on the plants. In his new book, "ALL NEW SQUARE FOOT GARDENING COOKBOOK" Mel recommends companion planting radishes, nasturtiums and tansy. I fought them last year and lost most of the squash. This year they are toast!

Tanglefoot is a sticky substance used in apple orchards. The apple tree owner makes or buys a fake red apple and applies Tanglefoot to the fake apple and hangs it in his tree. The bad bugs are attracted to the fake and become stuck to it. It can be ordered through most orchard supply houses.

Neem oil will kill beneficial as well as bad bugs. The key is to spray Neem only at the part of the plant where the bad bugs are prone to visit. If sprayed over most of the plant Neem can control squash bugs as well as the squash moth.


from SirTravers
Adult borer moths are attracted to yellow stuff you you can use yellow painted pie pans filled with water to catch the adults. Once you've noticed a few adults in the traps you can use floating row covers for 2 weeks after you spot the first adults. In the North, they emerge as adults the following Spring. Where it's warm like in Texas, the first run pupates quickly into adults, whose children commit another round of squash vine damage before they drop down into the soil for the winter so remember it's not just the adults...it's the babies in the ground too!
Don't plant squash in the same spot 2 years in a row. If you don't like row covers you can wrap the base of the vines with a small piece of the row cover material.Make sure to get it down into the mix a little. Next line of defense would be to spray insecticidal soap on the base of the vines once a week.
It can be a tough battle, but well worth the effort when the crop comes in.


from TimWardell
I've also read that sunflowers are a good companion plant for all cucurbits - though I haven't found anything that specifically says they will help with SVBs.
timwardell
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Squash Vine Borer Empty I'm being quoted?!

Post  SirTravers 3/10/2010, 3:37 pm

Oh wow I'm being quoted by Tim? Heck I was thinkin of quoting you a time or two haha! You're way ahead of me on the SFG curve.
Anyways...I'd like to thank the Academy....no seriously what I know I owe to my mom and my grandparents. While I grew up in Memphis my mom would take me to her parents' farm on the weekends and we'd spend all day out in the gardens working and playing around. I never realized how much I'd learned from just being around them till now.
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Re: Squash Vine Borer

Post  bcpl 3/10/2010, 10:49 pm

there is simple solution to beat the bores. Use female squash varieties under a hoop bed.
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Post  boffer 3/11/2010, 11:25 am

travers,

You forgot your agent, producer, and manicurist!

I guess I better quit complaining about the rain around here, cause I haven't had problems yet. Or is this a matter of when, not if?
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Spinosad

Post  alouwomack 5/16/2010, 11:39 am

Well, I just left the garden and guess what I found: YES, SVB eggs were laid singularly on 5 to 6 of my yellow straightneck leaves. I removed the eggs promptly but I don't really know what to do next???

I did purchase some organic spray from my local organic nursery that was recommended for various worms (cucurbitis is listed). Has anyone ever used Spinosad (from Natural Guard)? I have not applied it yet, but I will be this afternoon.

--Amber
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Post  Megan 5/16/2010, 1:23 pm

I have a very dumb question. Why is such attention given to protecting the stem of the curcurbit plant, when (for squash anyway) the whole plant is probably lying on the ground? Do the beasties enter only where the stem joins the soil??
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Post  Retired Member 1 5/16/2010, 3:29 pm

Good information, Tim, many thanks.
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Post  alouwomack 5/16/2010, 4:48 pm

Megan,

I don't think it is a dumb question at all. I think the larvae can attack from inside the ground . . . maybe that's why the base of the plant is so important. For me, I'm finding the eggs on the tops of the leaves . . . so who knows!? And additionally, I've got my straightneck up off the ground, growing/staked on t-posts. Looks like either way, the squash plants are at risk. There's no way I would be able to wrap the whole plant; how would they ever be able to pollinate male to female flowers would create another issue?

-Amber
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Re: Squash Vine Borer

Post  timwardell 5/16/2010, 8:50 pm

@ alouwomack - I've never used Spinosad but in the battle agains SVB I'll try any weapon that might work.

@ Megan - the base of the plant is the typcial entry point. The SVB lays the eggs, they hatch, they crawl to the base of the plant and bore into the hollow stem and start feasting. In short order they will deprive the plant of nutrients and kill it. If you cut open an infected stem you'd see it filled with tiny white grub like critters. The base of the plant will have what looks like saw dust. That's when you know you're in trouble and your plant is most likely done for.
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Re: Squash Vine Borer

Post  Megan 5/16/2010, 8:53 pm

Tim, thank you. *ponders her arsenal of anti-borer materials* Kevlar, anyone?!?!
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Re: Squash Vine Borer

Post  alouwomack 5/17/2010, 10:57 am

Tim,

Thanks for the feedback . . . yesterday I found more and more of the little red eggs as I looked more closely. Most were on the tops of the leaves and others were on the stems of the leaves. I picked all of them off that I could see . . . and I sprayed the Spinosad. I hope it helps Sad

=Amber
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Squash Vine Borer Empty Let my guard down...

Post  alouwomack 7/8/2010, 9:44 am

I'm here to sadly announce I didn't stick to my original plan for the last month or so . . . with the heat, I've been lucky to keep my garden watered, so using the Spinosad weekly sort of fell by the wayside. My squash plants have been doing so well too--until last week when I came home and found all 3 plants had been attacked by the SVBs!!! One was completely broken in half on the t-post.

I threw in the towel and cut all 3 plants apart for examination. Each was full of the little critters Sad

I thought we were past the danger zone for these pests???

-Amber
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