At first glance (in the photo below), the zucchini looks like it’s doing great this year – right?
It looks so nice and lush, I’m sure there must be a bumper crop of zucchini on the way. And since it’s been a year since we’ve been harvesting zucchini, we’re ready for them.
I like to use them in lots of casseroles that we eat all fall, winter, and spring – until it’s zucchini time yet again.
But if you look a little closer, things are not quite as great as it first appears – there are squash bugs in there!
What are squash bugs? Well, they’re brownish-black about 3/4″ – 1″ long, and they feed on vining crops like squash, pumpkins, and melons. As you can see, they cause the plant to wilt and eventually die. They’re generally found wherever these vining crops are grown. Ugly, aren’t they?
Organic controls for squash bugs include planting other varieties that repel them (obviously I didn’t do enough of that) such as marigold, nasturtium, and radish. Garden sanitation and weed control are important as they tend to hide beneath foliage; but once you find them, handpick all the insects (or destroy the entire stalk in the bottom picture) and eggs. The eggs are dark red and are laid in clusters on the leaves. Crop rotation (see Crop Rotation – A Simple System) is also important to help keep these guys under control.
The good news is that they do tend to cluster, so if you’re inspecting your garden regularly you can usually catch and handpick these before they do cause an otherwise healthy plant to die. Now that I’ve removed the infested leaves, the zucchini should be fine.