June Pests – Squash Bug aka ‘stink bug’ alert

This is a good time to check for ‘stink bug’ squash beetles and cucumber beetles on your curcurbin plants (all the pumpkin, squash, cucumber, melon and gourd family). Look on the leaves for bronze colored tiny rows of little round eggs, and their parents. I notice that when I water these plants, in a couple of minutes the stink bugs come up to the top of the plant. I then use a saved cottage cheese container and use the lid to flip the bug in there (or you can grab them and squish them outright). Once they are captured, I put the lid on tightly and leave it in the sun. This is for those of us who hate smelling like stink bug from squishing them by hand. I keep a couple of these containers setting around the garden near these plants for easy access. To remove the eggs, you can either pick them off into the container with your finger, or pinch the whole egg area of the leaf and carefully just remove that part of the leaf. It will heal over. But don’t let them go to another day. Look on top and under all your leaves for each plant. They often will sit on nearby plants so anywhere you see them, act quickly. Getting them at this time of year keeps them from taking over.

There is another version of the stink bug which looks ‘leggy’ and not compact, has wings, and likes to congregate on tomatoes and squash. I couldn’t find a picture, but they stink the same way as the squash beetle when squished. They are best caught with a butterfly net.

http://www.almanac.com/content/squash-bug

Baby squash bugs the size of rice grains just after the eggs hatch. http://www.weekendgardener.net/garden-pests/squashbug-020902.htm

This is a predatory good stink bug. “What makes them good: These bugs prey on garden pests such as grubs, gypsy moth caterpillars, the larvae of beetles such as the Colorado potato beetle and the Mexican bean beetle, hornworms, imported cabbage looper, imported cabbage worm (also known as “broccoli worms”), webworms and armyworms. They kill their victims by harpooning them, injecting a paralyzing substance into them and sucking out bodily fluids through the harpoon.” Read more: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/good-bug-bad-bug-how-can-you-tell-the-difference#ixzz3c0DwRPF2   – For a more detailed description so you don’t make the mistake of killing the good ones.

Look for cucumber beetles and hand squash them now before they get over- enthusiastic in reproducing. It helps to have a butterfly net in the garden this time of year because these critters like to fly up quicker than you can get your hand on them. There are flying squash beetles that look the same as the stink bug except they have longer legs and wings. They will hide in tomato plants and nearby other vegetable plants so keep an eye out for these kinds of bugs. They will eat your hard won vegetables.

http://www.almanac.com/content/cucumber-beetles

For a more comprehensive list of good and bad bugs in the garden check out this website: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/good-bug-bad-bug-how-can-you-tell-the-difference

Bugs this time of year, especially with all the rain we’ve been having, and a rather mild winter here in Georgia, you have to be especially vigilant. I walk my garden every day or send out my interns to look under leaves, watch for damaged or dying leaves (indicators of bugs at work), and hand squish or capture them while the season is young. If you get all or most of them now, you increase your ability to keep up with it thru the summer increases and lessen the amount of work to control them as well as cutting out losses due to their hungry little beasty selves.

Hope this helps. Diann

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