Romance in the pumpkin patch

Monday, July 5, 2021

We are well ahead of the average with our growing degree days, so pests are showing up earlier than you would typically expect them.  

Degree day accumulations as of July 5, 2021.  All data are taken from the Kentville weather station, based on a start date of March 1, and calculated using the single sine method.

If you haven't already, start checking your Cucurbits for squash bug!  The recent rains have speckled the adults with soil, making them extra hard to see, so be vigilant.  A female squash bug can lay up to 250 eggs in a season, so controlling this pest early is key.  The adults aren't affected by pesticides, and the youngest instars are the most susceptible, so it's best to flag a few egg clusters and check back regularly to time your sprays.  Be careful of pollinators, only spray when bees aren't active. 
Consenting adult squash bugs having fun in the sun.

These crafty fellows like to hide.

The bronze coloured eggs can usually (but not always), be found in the crux of leaf veins, and will typically be in groups of 10-20, although I've seen as few as four in a cluster.  With smaller plantings, you can remove leaves with eggs on them, or wrap a piece of duct tape around your fingers and blot the eggs off.
This female laid two sets of eggs on this leaf.

If you have multiple types of squash in a field, squash bugs seem to prefer pumpkins, blue hubbard, buttercup and kabocha types, so be sure to scout those extra carefully.  I have yet to see squash bug in watermelons or cucumbers, but it's always good to be thorough.  Have you noticed varietal preferences in your field?  If so, I'd love to hear about it.  

Did you catch Perennia's Virtual Field Days last summer?  Acting Vegetable Specialist Caitlin Congdon and Suzanne Blatt from AAFC discussed using blue hubbard squash as a trap crop and nasturtiums as a push crop in butternut and buttercup plantings with interesting results.  Skip to 10:20 for details on the trial, and stay tuned until 45:30 for the question period.  

For more information about squash bug life cycle and control measures, check out Perennia's Squash Bug Fact Sheet.

Do you know about Perennia's Pest Management Guides?  Every year we update pest management options for the major crops in Nova Scotia.  A complete listing can be found here (click on Vegetable Crops for the drop down menu).