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Squash Vine Borer

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Date:  May 6, 2021
Agent:  Donna Teasley

Hello, this is Donna Teasley, Horticulture Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke Center.

It’s finally time to plant! Seems like it took forever to get here, doesn’t it? But once we get those seeds and plants in the ground, there are more potential problems to think about.

The squash vine borer is one of the earliest insect problems that attack the vegetable garden. These insects show up just as the squash vines start to run and the plant can be dead the next day. They start as moths that flutter around the plants, laying eggs on the stems and leaves, right at the soil line. Eggs hatch in 9 to 14 days and the cream colored larvae bore into stems at the soil level. More than one larva can be present at one time. If the gardener checks his vines closely he will see sawdust like frass at the base of the plant.

At this point a knife slit length ways in the stem will expose the borers which can then be pulled out and destroyed. A hand full of moist soil mounded over the damaged stem can help the plant recover from the wound. Two applications of a spray containing bifenthrin at 7 day intervals in late May and early June and again in early August will keep squash vine borers from damaging your vines. Keep an eye on squash plants early so that you’ll enjoy fresh squash later in the season.

This is Donna Teasley with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Burke Center. If you would like more information about this program, you can call us at 439-4460.