Last year I had to pull up all my squash plants because some larvae had bored into the vines and killed my plants. I have four varieties of heirloom squash planted again and I am paranoid I am going to get the same bug in my plants. Right now my plants are about five inches high and big platter size and bigger. What can I do to prevent them from getting my plants? I have already put out nematodes. Any advice is appreciated.
I use Bt in a squirt bottle every week or two around the base and on the leaves of the plants to kill the moths and their larvae that do the damage. I did this last year and had my first great crop of zucchini in years.
I place foil around the base of my squash plans when they are very small, which seems to discourage the borers from getting into the squash plant. Once an egg is laid inside the plant, I don't think there is anything you can do to save the plant. However, I have had great success kiling adult squash bugs by spraying a mixture of dishwashing liquid directly on the squash bug. I use Dawn dishwashing liquid in an amount similar to what I use to wash dishes, and it kills the bug within a couple of minutes.
I thought I'd gotten past the worst of the vine borers, but my plants stopped producing a few days ago and I found the tell-tale mush on the vines this afternoon. I use a paring knife and cut it open above the mush (lengthwise) and squirt in a strong mix of water and Bt with a little dish soap in it. I use a ketchup squirt bottle (the type - picked up at the local restaurant supply store) and squeeze hard enough to push the liquid up the stem. Hopefully I'll get the worm and the vines will harden over the wounds. I have managed to save them in the past, but you have to act decisively. I've also used a syringe to squirt in the Bt, but even largest of animal syringes hold so little liquid that the food service bottle is my method now.
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