Certain crop pests attack seeds or seedlings, making treatment of the seeds themselves essential. Chemicals are most often applied to foliage or soil as a preventive method to deter pests from eating and destroying plants. However, for those pests that feed on seeds, a pre-planting management plan is necessary.
Insecticide treatment for squash seeds is a preventive measure to keep certain pests from destroying crops in your home food garden. One of the most prevalent problems associated with squash seeds is the seed corn maggot (Delia platura) that attacks seeds, seedling and beans. Look for maggots with yellow-white bodies measuring approximately 1/5 inch in length. In maturity, maggots become flies that display dark gray bodies, still measuring 1/5 inch in length.
Insecticide treatment is essential because the effects of insect pests can be devastating. Larvae feed on seeds as they germinate. This can result in plants that do not develop or cause malformed plants with damaged foliage or a lack of leaves. Poorly formed plants leads to severe crop loss reaching up to 40 to 60 percent, according to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Insecticide seed treatment is necessary before growth for the protection of your home squash plants.
Choose an insecticide with the active ingredient diazinon for squash seed treatment. For use in the home garden, choose a liquid or dry formulation. Both dry and liquid options are efficient and are formulated for quick adherence to plant seeds, according to the Ohio State University Extension. For advice or assistance, contact your local county extension agent or licensed professional.
To apply insecticide treatment to squash seeds, use a container or pour directly into a hopper box or planter box. Fill your container halfway with seeds and apply half of your insecticide. Thoroughly mix the insecticide and seed and then add the rest of your seed and insecticide and stir once more. Slow saturation ensures thorough coverage for the most successful prevention of pests. Plant your seeds when treatment is complete.
The application of insecticide treatment for squash seeds is more effective when combined with cultural controls, according to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Pests like maggots become more problematic in wet conditions and in soil high in organic content. For best control, plant your treated seeds in well-drained soil to minimize excessive moisture. Additionally, do not add manure or compost to your soil before planting, as these additions are extremely rich in organic matter.