Squash those bugs!

Squash bugs are here, and if you haven’t seen the damage the adult’s toxic saliva can do to your squash and zucchini plants yet, you may have noticed their brown jewel-like eggs under the leaves.

The best thing to do now to prevent widespread damage is to search for and destroy the eggs daily for the next few weeks. The underside of every leaf should be inspected, which will take about 3-5 minutes per mature plant (they usually go for larger plants, not small seedlings). If you find the eggs, remove them by flicking them off with your fingernail. Don’t worry too much about scraping that small portion of the leaf – your plant can handle it.

Recently-laid squash bug eggs. They come out cream-colored, and turn shiny brown after exposure.

Recently-laid squash bug eggs. They come out cream-colored, and turn shiny brown after exposure.

Once the eggs hatch, you’ll see the five nymphal instar stages the bugs go through before becoming adults. These should be squished as well. Squash bugs are very difficult to kill with most pesticides, and physically removing them is the safest and most effective way to save your plants.

First two nymphal instars of the squash bug, with some eggs that haven't hatched yet.

First two nymphal instars of the squash bug, with some eggs that haven’t hatched yet.

No eggs yet? Put a kale leaf or small piece of cardboard on the soil in your garden. Adult squash bugs will seek shelter there during the day, and you’ll be able to easily find and remove them.

Adult squash bug

Adult squash bug