Thursday, June 10, 2010

Squash Vine Borer

photo credit: Dr. Alan Windham, Univ. of TN Extension Plant Pathologist

Squash vine borer (SVB) damages squash, gourds, and pumpkins. Cucumbers and melons are usually not attacked by the SVB.

The adult SVB is a clear-winged moth. The 1 inch long adult moth is commonly mistaken for a wasp. Its abdomen is ringed with orange and black. Females lay oval brownish eggs on plants in late May or early June. The borers tunnel into stems near the soil and feed on the plant. Excrement is visible near points of entry on the stem when larvae are feeding. Heavy feeding causes the infested vine(s) to wilt and die.

Select a variety which is SVB tolerant. Also, cover emerging plants with row covers to reduce possible damage. Remove row covers when the plants begin to bloom to permit insect pollination. Stagger new plantings every 2-3 weeks to avoid SVB populations.

Some gardeners cover the main stem with pantyhose to prevent egg laying by adults. Infested stems can be split and larvae removed. Add a spade-full of moist soil over damaged stems to encourage new root growth. Insecticides must be applied prior to borers entering into the stem.

Insecticides containing carbaryl, bifenthrin, spinosad, or permethrin are effective against SVB. Apply an insecticide every 5-7 days. Please read the pesticide label before applying.

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