Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Simply Cucumber/Squash Vine Borer Control

Cucumber/Squash Vine Borer
I hope everyone is having a great week. On today's post, we are going to give you a little bit of information about cucumber/squash vine borers.  Typically, these pests affect squash and pumpkins, but they can also affect cucumbers and melons.  Unfortunately, we have had a visit from these evil creatures and they devastated my cucumbers.  I did manage to salvage enough for 6 pints of pickles, so all was not lost.  The vine borers look similar to wasps and will lay their eggs on the underside of the plant's leaves.  Once the larvae hatch, they will bore into the stems of the plant to feed.  If you look closely, you may see saw dust like frass around the holes in the stem.

You can attempt to prevent these creatures from destroying your crop by using prevention methods.  One way is to cover your crop with a row cover to prevent the bugs from getting to your plants.  You will want to remove the cover when the plant begins to bloom, so that bees and other pollinators can fertilize the blossoms.  Diatomaceous Earth is way you can stop the bugs dead in their tracks.  It's a white chalk like powder which is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton, so it's all natural.  You generously sprinkle this on the stems of the plants early in the morning, when they are still wet with dew.  The diatomaceous earth is sharp, so when the insects walk over them, it will tear open their exoskeletons and allow infection which will kill the insects. (We will have another post about this product at another time).  Another way to protect your plants would be to wrap the base stems with aluminum foil.  I have not tried this method, but a friend says it works well.

At the end of the season, you will want to destroy the plants and till the ground.  Next season, you will want to move where you plant your affected plants since the larvae of the vine borer may overwinter in the ground. You can also till the ground again in the later winter/early spring to expose the larvae and allow the frost/freeze to kill any larvae that attempts to overwinter.

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