Among all the group vegetable varieties, squashes come with most diverse in shape, size, and overall appearance. Squashes come under Cucurbita species in gourds family, Cucurbitaceae.
Summer Squash and Winter Squash:
We have two different types of squashes summer and winter squash. Summer squash is harvested during the summer season when they are still immature. It includes zucchini, crooknecks, straightnecks and patty pans. Winter squashes are harvested during the end of the summer season when they are fully mature. This is the most diverse group of squashes where it includes acorn, buttercup, butternut, banana, and spaghetti.
Squash Vine Borer:
But to grow these beautiful and nutritious squashes, we must tackle one of the most destructive pests – Squash vine borer. If you are a new gardener, you might not have an idea what squash vine borers are and damage it will cause to the plants.
Squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae) larva, chew the internal contents by forming tunnels into the stem. Tunneling often kills the plants, as food and water conducting tissues get damaged when larva feeds at the basal portion of the vines. Sometimes fruit also gets damaged due to borer attack. Along with squashes, it also causes damage to cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins.
How do they look?
These are the immature larvae, white or cream in color with a brown head, measures almost an inch in length. Adults have orange abdomen with black dots. Its first pair of wings is metallic green, and the second pair of wings are transparent.
What are the symptoms to look for?
- Sudden wilting of plants.
- Holes at the basal region of stem and sawdust-like insect waste confirms the presence of borers.
- Pull out and destroy the plants if squash vine borer attack kills it.
- Grow resistant squash varieties.
- Go for Bt formulation sprays on leaf stem and main stem of the plant.
- Insecticides spray can be done in case of severe infestation.
Then how to manage?
It is challenging to control the pest once it attacks. So, most management option left is to control the hatching of larvae before they enter the plant. Hence gardeners should keep an eye to check the presence of adults. For this, place the yellow trap in your garden, adults will get attracted to it. Then you will get a general idea about pest population to monitor them. Collect and destroy the trapped adults to avoid further damage caused by egg laying.
Sushma completed her B. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Hiriyur and M. Sc. from College of Horticulture, Bengaluru. She is an avid gardener with expertise across soil based and soilless gardening techniques using substrates.