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Grow with KARE: Squash vine borers

If you start to notice your pumpkins or squash wilt and die, these insects could be to blame.

It’s devastating when your pumpkins or squash have been growing so nicely and then in a matter of days they wilt and die, leaving you to wonder what happened.

Vine borers could be to blame.

The adults somewhat resemble a wasp with metallic green wings and a red body with black dots.

They lay tiny brown eggs in late June to July at the base of plants in the squash family. Summer squash, winter squash and pumpkins are most susceptible. Cucumbers, melons and butternut squash are less affected.

Those eggs hatch into larvae that eat through the center of the stem.

To prevent these buggers in the first place…place a yellow container filled with water in your garden. The adults are attracted to yellow and will be trapped when they fall into the water.

You could also use a row cover to block out the adults.

If you’ve had vine borers in the past, don’t plant your squash or pumpkins in the same spot. Larvae spend their winter in the soil and emerge in the spring.

Once they’ve infected a plant, even if very little, pull that plant immediately and dispose of it.

If you catch it quickly you can use a knife to slit open the stem and remove the borer. Bury that open wound under a mound of dirt.

You can also plant a second crop in July when the adults are less active. That’s what I’ve done here.

Although we do not recommend it, if you choose to use a pesticide, make sure you follow the label instructions and ensure the label states the product is effective against squash vine borers.