Anasa tristis, or squash bugs, are a common pest throughout the United States. They are five-eighths of an inch long. Squash bugs are gray to black with orange and brown stripes on their abdomen, and they suck the juice out of plant leaves, causing the leaves to wilt and die. Squash bug eggs are one-sixteenth of an inch long and yellowish brown. They are laid on the undersides of leaves. Squash bugs eat squash, cucumber and pumpkin plants. Once in the adult form, squash bugs are hard to eradicate.
Check underneath the leaves of all squash-type plants for egg masses. Smash these eggs with your fingers. Wear gloves while handling squash bugs to prevent any skin irritation.
Lay cardboard down on the ground around the plants. Let the cardboard sit overnight to lure squash bugs. Squash bugs like to hide on the ground under debris during the night.
Check under the cardboard pieces for hiding squash bugs in the early morning. Catch the bugs and either squash them or drop the adult bugs in a jar of soapy water.
Remove and destroy any part of plant that shows squash bug infestation.
Remove all old plants and garden debris in the autumn. Unmated squash bugs hibernate under debris piles for the winter.
Things You Will Need
- Jar of soapy water with lid
- Rotate your crops each year. Squash bugs return to the last area where they fed before going into winter hibernation.
- Apply neem extract to plant leaves when you first see the squash bug nymphs. This will kill the squash bugs before growing into adult forms.
- Pesticides can be dangerous to use on a home garden. It is best to keep the infestation away by hand-picking the bugs.