Monday, October 20, 2008

Bait and switch

I've found that there's no substitute for experience in gardening. Gardening books and websites provide ideas, guidance, and rules-of-thumb; local gardeners offer tried and true wisdom and climate-specific information, but there's just no way to learn except to DO.

For example, I had a little problem with squash bugs this season.

As soon as I saw the hideous nymphs crawling around my zuchinni, I ran inside and Googled them. Ahh! To my relief, I found that they were just squash bugs. Squash bugs, according to the several extension services websites that I read, are not a serious problem during the "late season".

Squash bug nymphs on zuchinni


These little devils devoured my zuchinni, moved to my buttercup squash and destroyed it, then, after a heroic effort, killed my gigantic pumpkin vines, and finally withered away my cucumbers. Not a serious problem, my hindquarters. Hmmmph.

Towards the end of the pumpkin destruction, I came up with a little game I like to call "Kill the %$^# squash bugs". Here's how it works: Set out a bait (I found pumpkins work great). Set up a trap (a bucket of soapy water). Then, periodically, like twice a day, pick up the pumpkin, hold it over the trap, and brush them into the soapy water to drown.

Pumpkin bait

Soapy water death trap

Simple, and satisfying. Although it was too late for this year, I hope that I reduced the population of squash bugs who will try to kill my cucurbits next year. I've also resolved to only plant zukes in my front yard next year, to escape the s.b. scourge. Of course, what would have been more satisfying would have been to kill the eggs as soon as I saw them on the zuchinni leaves, and never had any problem at all. But we'll have to save that for another year.


Anonymous said...

Yep. My garden suffered the same devastation. I feel your pain!

They don't like neem or pyrethin much; it doesn't kill the adults but it kills the eggs and the smaller numphs...too bad I didn't figure that out until I had been unsuccessfully spraying garlic and chile in a soap base for weeks without getting rid of any.

I am probably planting in the same general area but I'm seriously thinking of row covers and hand pollination.

d.a. said...

We don't have our garden set up yet, but I see lots of bug-picking-and-tossing to the chickens in my future.

Verde said...

I think squash bugs are the answer to your question, why don't people garden. They are the only thing I used pesticides on this year and they laughed at my attempts.

I have already been planning on destruction techniques for next year - it involves neem oil.

They are the reasons we didn't bring in winter squashes. Pox on squash bugs!