The Menacing Squash Bug
The squash bug continues to be one of farmers biggest threats today. The bugs cause considerable damage to crops across the U.S. They transmit a bacterial infection called cucurbit yellow vine disease when they munch on their favorite plants. They are partial to plants in the squash family, as their name describes. They do particular damage to our zucchini and other summer squash, pumpkins, cucumber, watermelon, and winter squash. Plants that have been infected by their bacteria show rapid yellowing and wilting of the leaves, and generally decline from there.
Broad spectrum insecticides worked for a long time, but now many growers are backing away from their use as they also kill beneficial bugs, particularly ones that are natural predators to aphids, thus leaving the aphids to grow out of control. Growers are now trying to use less harsh chemicals and employ integrated pest management. However, thus far no method or new insecticide has the ability to get rid of squash bugs like the broad spectrum insecticides. One method that is starting to be studied is boosting the number of natural predators of the squash bugs. One is the tachinid fly, which lays its eggs in adult squash bugs. Those eggs hatch inside the bug and hang out until they pupate. Unfortunately, this means it takes the fly a long time to actually kill the squash bug, during which they continue to go on munching on all of our favorite squash and ruining tons of crops
Have you ever experienced the voracious appetite of the squash bug? How do you think growers should try and counteract this pest?