Monday, June 6, 2011

Squash Vine Borer Moth Damage

Yesterday I noticed two moths with red backs breeding on one of my zucchini plants.  They were squash vine borer moths. (link goes to someone else's blog that has pictures of the eggs and moth)  They lay their eggs on the stems of the plant and when the larvae hatch they chew thru the stems and kill the leaves and eventually the whole plant.  I started looking for damage and sure enough I had it.  The larvae had wiped out  my zucchini and pumpkin stems, the plants were barely hanging on. I performed surgery to the vines that did not look too badly damaged.  I think I managed to save all but 1 of my squash, one pumpkin plant and my bushel basket gourd plant.  When I pulled my zucchini plants I found 2 pupae that had already eaten their way out of the stems to pupate in the soil.

I read an article/blog that said that if you plant sunflowers in the same row as your squash it will attract fire ants to the blooms.  Then they can find the eggs and soft bodied larvae and eat them.  If anyone else knows a way to attract predators that will prevent or kill squash vine borers, their larvae, or their eggs please let me know. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi, it's Maria from the blog you linked to--I saw the incoming in my stats and popped over here! This year I'm trying cinnamon. Sprinkled LIBERALLY along the stalks, especially near the base and the part that vines up. I'll let you know if it works. I spotted two of the moths flying around the plant. Since I was shooting at them with my neem/cinnamon oil/soap bottle, neither landed, but the basic idea is that the smell and cinnamon covering the stalks confuses them. The ones I was chasing were damn confused, but you would be too if some lady was chasing you yelling "DIE, FIEND, DIE" with an old Fantastic bottle full of stuff.

    Another thing that I've heard works fairly well is to separate the zucchini from the other melon types--and then monitor the zucchini. The zucchini is supposedly their favorite plant and they will migrate to them and possibly ignore the other plants if they are not close by. I know that when I have zucchini, I have had no problems with cucumber or other melons being infested.

    Those eggs? Pick them off. That helps enormously if you know what to watch for.

    Sounds like you already cut the stems and got the worms out. I hope you did that before you buried the remainder. If you didn't, well, you'll know in a day or two because those worms will still be eating. When I have to do surgery on the plants, I also shoot the stems and any surgical spots FULL of BT worm killer. That works to kill those that might be higher up the stems that I don't find. It's very safe to use and extra insurance. You can inject it in the stems at any point. It's a royal Pain the Neck so you gotta REALLY love pumpkins or whatnot.

    Maria at