Squash vine borers are the larvae of a bright orange wasp-like moth that has 2 black and 2 transparent wings. It lays the eggs that are born into larvae inside the stem of the plant. The larvae feed inside the stem near the base of the plant and can kill a plant in a matter of days.
As with most pests, the best solution is prevention. The moth will rarely travel much farther than a foot or so up the stem from the base of the plant. If you can protect that part then often they will move on to other plants. Wrapping the base of the plant in aluminum foil has been shown to help.
You can also keep your plants covered with insect netting (floating row covers) until the first female flowers appear, at which point you will have to remove the cover in order for bees and other insects to be able to pollinate.
- If one does happen to get into your plant, you can check around the base for holes in the stem and insect droppings. If you catch it early enough, you may be able to save the plant by performing your very own “plant surgery” by slicing the stem open, killing the pest, and covering the injured areas with moist soil or compost.
Plants to Specifically Watch:
- SQUASH and vining melons! Such as:
- Acorn Squash
- Butternut Squash
- Spaghetti Squash
- Summer Squash (Zucchini)