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Garden Newsletter: Squash Bugs, Vine Borers and Hummingbirds

Summer Solstice Update

We celebrated the passing of spring into summer and a much-needed rain by planting more tomatoes (transplants of Golden King Siberian and Potato Leaf Hillbilly), cukes (long green), and calendula flowers. There’s nothing like a good rain to welcome newly installed plantings. It also gave the garden in general a growth spurt. Check out the vines covering our large arch.

 

Squash Bugs

Along with the new season, came the bugs and other insects, which you’re bound to be battling now too. In spite of our devoted attention to spraying neem oil and picking squash bug eggs the squash bugs and vine borers have appeared. Our pumpkin and squash patrols have intensified! We cut out the squash bug eggs attached to the leaves. A sharp blade or scissors cuts out the egg-layered section which gets destroyed.

Squash Bugs Mating

squash bugs mating
Squash bugs caught in the act! Image by GardensAll

The after effects… squash bug eggs!

 

Squash Vine Borers

Vine borers leave a trail of yellow fluff along the stem of squash plants.

Removing Vine Borers from the Squash Stems

We used to cut the vine borers out of the stems. We’d take a box cutter and slice all the way from the point of entry till we found the borer, then after dispatching the borer, we’d take plastic tie up tape and wrap the length of the damaged area like dressing a wound.

The alternative was taking a stiff wire and running it into the hole in either direction in order to skewer the borer. The method saved slicing the stem, but it was hard to know if the wire had done its job. Neither method was all that effective and took considerable time to deploy.

 

BT Dipel Spray and Injections

Now we’re injecting BT – caterpillar killing bacillus, (bacillus thuringiensis) into any holes we find, flooding the interior of the stem.

BT (Dipel, etc.,.) is an effective—and proven safe—treatment applied externally as a spray and injected internally into the stem, we’ve taken up both procedures. So far, it appears to be helping.

It just takes diligence to look each plant over each day.

We have about 16 squash and pumpkin plants so spending a couple minutes on each one takes about half an hour, but it’s time well spent if it works. Once we spot the yellow fluff along the stem and locate the entry hole, we just insert the curved syringe tip and flood the inside with BT. We’ll update you here on how well this technique works this year.

Please let us know what you’re doing that’s working, and we’ll add it here.

 

BT Dipel and syringe for injecting into the squash vines to kill squash vine borers. GardensAll.com

 

Hummingbird Feeders

One more feature we placed in the garden this year is a hummingbird feeder. We chose a nice red glass model. By now, most folks know the red dye is to be avoided for hummers, but the red glass helps to attract the birds without the toxic food coloring.

The glass hummingbird feeders also avoids the potential of BPA plastic contamination. For sugar water, we’re using organic white sugar syrup (1 to 4 ratio to water, boil the mixture, let cool).

You can store leftover in the fridge for about a week. Hang the feeder in the shade about 4 feet off the ground.  Completely change out syrup every 5 days or so. Do not add new to old.

Hummingbird Food — What do Hummingbirds Eat?

Attract Hummingbirds to Your Garden

Hummingbird Feeders – Red glass is best
Humming Bird Food – No Dyes

MIX: 2 oz organic cane sugar + 8 oz water
BOIL mixture; let cool
HANG hummingbird feeder in the shade ~4′ off ground
CHANGE syrup completely in ~5 days

Do Hummingbirds Eat Bugs and Insects

Yes! Hummingbirds aren’t just sugar junkies! Hummingbirds eat arthropods: bugs, insects and spiders!

The tiny birds are not mere nectar junkies. They subsist on a wide variety of insects as well. Spiders too. I once observed a hummingbird flying through a swarm of gnats like an airborne shark feasting on a bait ball of fish. For a deeper dive into the nature of hummingbirds, you may enjoy this article.

I saw a hummingbird fly through a swarm of gnats like an airborne shark feasting on a bait ball of fish.
~Coleman Alderson, GardensAll.com


 

One last little bit and we’re off to garden. We planted Chinese Red Noodle Beans (from Baker Creek) as a fun and perhaps, tasty alternative to the typical pole bean. Not only are the beans unusual, the flower itself is rather amazing too. Have a look.

 

 

OK Folks. That’s a wrap! We’re off to play in our little Eden!

How about letting us know what’s happening in your little acre, or big acre as the case may be? You can post comments and/or photos up on our Facebook page, or send us an email. In particular, let us know how you’re handling issues with squash bugs and or borers.

May your garden flourish and your harvests be bountiful!

~ Coleman for GardensAll.com
P.S. Be sure to scroll down for any community member tips we may have added.

Comments from Community Members:

Keith Snyder, had this to say: I don’t have a vegetable garden currently, but when I gardened in Louisiana squash vine borers were horrible.  The best way I had to combat them was after planting I used floating row covers with the edges buried and plenty of slack in the middle.  (I had 3′-wide raised beds.)  As the zucchini and acorn squash plants grew I made sure the slack was pulled to the most advantageous spots.  When the plants got to the point they really outgrew the covers I took them off and left them to the mercy of the moths.  By the time the borers got so bad the plants were shot, we and all available neighbors who wanted any were tired of squash.  Worked like a charm!  Keith Snyder, Houghton, MI

Keep on Growing!

We celebrated the passing of spring into summer and a much-needed rain by planting more tomatoes (transplants of Golden King Siberian and Potato Leaf Hillbilly), cukes (long green), and calendula flowers. There's nothing like a good rain to welcome newly installed plantings. It also gave the garden in general a growth spurt. Check out the vines covering our large arch.

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