I confess.... I'm a little scared of squash bugs.
These ugly dudes totally destroyed my zucchini plant in 2005, positively laughing at my spray bottle of soapy water the whole time. I hated them. Hated them. And back then, I didn't even know what they were.
Now I know that they're one of the toughest garden pests to kill, even if you stoop to nasty chemicals. The answer is prevention and determination.
As one of the top rules of pest control is to never plant a crop you had trouble with in the same place the following year or two (the creepy crawlies could be hibernating!), I went the extreme route and swore off all cucurbits in 2006. In 2007, I ventured a cucumber plant on my front porch instead of out back. Now, I have two healthy looking cucumber seedlings in the garden out back. Cucumbers aren't the squash bug's #1 snack option, but I still view this as a bit of a test. Can I hold them off??? If so, I'll consider zucchini and pumpkins again next year.
And fortunately, many of the measures to be taken against squash bugs are also to be taken against cucumber beetles. My plan of action:
- Protect them while they're young. I currently have soda pop cloches over the seedlings, and I'll see if I might be able to cover them with a hanging plastic sheet once the trellis is in.
- Surround the cucumbers with plants the bugs dislike. There are already radishes sharing the same square feet as the cucumbers, and I'll grow a pot of marigolds or two to put just outside their section of the garden.
- Be obsessive. Especially while they're young, I'll check under their leaves every day for anything that looks like a bug or an egg. Catch the scout and you may prevent the rest of the invasion.
- Trap crop. If I do end up with the dreaded bugs, then I'll buy a squash plant and put it nearby. With any luck, those suckers will move on to what they view as greener pastures and I can hand pick (with gloves!) what's left.... and then they'll all go bye-bye into the trash bin.
Ugh! Really, they look like little prehistoric monsters! *shudder*