If you grow zucchini and squash, you’ve probably lost many plants over the years to squash vine borers. Well, at long last, here comes the calvary! I’d like to share the technique I’ve used to prevent squash vine borers organically in my own garden for years. It’s worked like a charm to keep these pesky, stem-hollowing insects from ruining my zucchini crop. Give it a try and report back with your results.
How to prevent squash vine borers organically in three simple steps.
Step 1: Immediately upon planting your squash seeds or transplants, cover the area with floating row cover or a layer of insect netting to keep the adult vine borers (see photo) from accessing the plants until they’re large enough for Step 2.
Step 2: When the plants have two to three sets of true leaves, remove the row cover and wrap a four-inch long strip of aluminum foil around the base of each plant. The strips should be between one and two inches wide. Wrap them snugly around the stems, making sure the foil extends below the soil’s surface by a quarter of an inch. The foil barrier will protect the weakest point of the plant and prevent female vine borers from laying their eggs in this vulnerable area. (You can also wrap the stem with florist’s tape, if you’d prefer to have something a little more natural-looking than foil.)
Step 3: Every two weeks, head out to the garden to make adjustments. As the squash stems expand, the foil will have to be rewrapped so the plant doesn’t become girdled. This step only takes a moment and is well worth your time. If you find the plant outgrows the foil, get a new strip that’s a little larger than the one before and rewrap the stem.
Our online course Organic Pest Control for the Vegetable Garden, provides even more information about managing pests using preventative methods such as the one described in this article. The course consists of a series of videos that total 2 hours and 30 minutes of learning time.
While the foil wrap controls squash vine borers, there’s another common and persistent pest that affects squash plants: the squash bug. If squash bugs are attacking your plants, this video will show you a clever little trick for getting rid of squash bug eggs and nymphs organically – using duct tape!
Tell us how you deal with squash vine borers in the comments below.