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Squash Vine Borer

All your hard work is paying off with an abundant harvest. Then, one day you notice your squash plants are wilted and near death.

Take a closer look at the base of the stem for signs of the cause, squash vine borer.  This black and orange day-flying moth lays its eggs at the base of the stems of vine crops.  The eggs hatch and the small worm-like larvae burrow into the stem, eating their way through the center, leaving a trail of saw-dust like material called frass.

The feeding prevents water and nutrients from moving between the roots and leaves and the plant then wilts and eventually dies.  But don’t give up just yet.

Leave the plants in place while carefully slicing the stem lengthwise.  Remove or kill any borers you find and then cover the stem with moist soil.  This encourages roots to form along the stem so the plant can continue to grow and produce.

Reduce future problems by removing and destroying any borer infested vines this fall.  Proper cleanup removes the borers that overwinter in the plant debris.

A bit more information:  Next spring start watching for this pest early in the season when the plants begin to vine.  Smash the small brown button shaped squash vine borer found at the base of the stems.  Some gardeners choose to use insecticides.  If you do, be sure to read and follow all label directions carefully.  Start treating as soon as the adults are spotted in the garden.  Repeat as recommended.  Consider using one of the more eco-friendly options like spinosad or pyrethrins.  Spray only the base of the stem and early in the morning to minimize the risk to the all-important bees.

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