Icky Bugs in the Garden

So now we have a new pest in the gardens.  Yay… Seems to be the year of the pests!  Something to keep me a little nutty I guess.  Like I need help in that area!

One of the other gardeners noticed a leave full of ugly, gray, on the large size, bugs and the leaves all around were gray and dead or yellow and dying.  We have quite a few squash plants in that area, it would be a mess to have them all go to waste because of these invaders!

Then I also read that they lay eggs and they will be ready for eating more squash plants.  I am not sure if they will go dormant for next year or not.  But it is something to consider.

My mother, who knows about such things and had us picking bugs off of plants and dumping them into buckets with a little gasoline when we were kids and had 2 huge gardens, said to use some dish soap mixed up really thick.  We have been doing that, in the community gardens and in my home garden plot.  Sunday I mixed in some Essential oils, Tea Tree and Peppermint.  I didn’t see any bugs yesterday when I treated the areas.

Tea tree is also a fungicide and repels insects, as does peppermint.  I just haven’t tried them yet in the garden.  I don’t know why, other than they are expensive.  I should have this year with all the insect and fungus issues I have had.

Nasty critters..
Nasty critters..

I looked at the plants and resprayed them yesterday. Still a lot of bugs.  I read on the UM- Minnesota website more about the bugs.

Things to physically do to get rid of them:

  • Remove or knock off and kill nymphs and adults by dropping them into a pail of soapy water. This is particularly effective if only a few plants are affected. This can be challenging because squash bugs hide under leaves and move quickly when disturbed.
  • Crush eggs that are attached to the undersides and stems of leaves.
  • Trap squash bugs by laying out boards or pieces of newspaper. Squash bugs will congregate under the boards at night, and then can be collected and destroyed in the morning.
  • Remove plant debris around the garden during the growing season to reduce the potential harborages where squash bugs may hide. Clean up cucurbits and other plant matter around the garden in the fall to reduce the number of overwintering sites.


The leaves at the beginning.  When we first noticed a problem, I should have known.
The leaves at the beginning. When we first noticed a problem, I should have known.

The damage they cause:

Squash bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that they use to suck the sap out of leaves. Their feeding causes yellow spots that eventually turn brown (fig. 6). The feeding also disrupts the flow of water and nutrients, which can cause wilting. However, unlike cucumber beetles, squash bugs do not vector diseases. Young plants are much more susceptible to damage and may die from extensive feeding. Larger, more vigorous plants are more tolerant of feeding damage, although they can also be injured or killed if they severely attacked.

Their eggs.  For lots more icky bugs!
Their eggs. For lots more icky bugs!

Currently, we are seeing extensive feeding and lots of damage.  It is late summer and the same article I read says that typically, unless there are a lot, you don’t really need to do anything. Late season or fall is not really a problem, which is true.  The leaves are what they are attacking and we have many of our squash off the vines or the few that are left, are relatively untouched.  It’s the pumpkins and the butternut squash I am concerned about.

That, and they are just plain ugly, icky bugs!!

I could apply and insecticide, but everything I read says that it could harm bees.  With the bee problems we have already I don’t really want to contribute to that.  If I apply it later in the evening it isn’t so bad, however, how long does that stuff affect the bees??  Will it still affect them the next day?  Do we really know??

I am considering just letting the chickens into my home plot and let them take care of the bugs.  They will do a good job getting rid of them.  Though, I may not have many plants left.  It is at the end of the season so maybe I will.

Here you can go to find out what the University of Minnesota- Extension says about them.

What have you used to fight these ugly bugs??  Did it work??




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