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Oh. No.

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Several weeks ago, we were intrigued by a most beautiful, large red bug that was flying around the vegetable garden.  It had a line of black spots down its back and almost looked like a wasp in flight, although I was pretty certain it was something else entirely.  I snapped a picture of it, meaning to identify it out of curiosity.  I don’t think a day has gone by since then that we haven’t seen this insect, but somehow I never got around to looking it up.

Tonight I searched for the bug’s name, and now I’m preemptively mourning my zucchini plants.  It is a squash vine borer.  How did this guy know to find my garden?  I’ve never seen this bug before in my life.  And for at least 10 years (probably more – I don’t think our predecessor grew veggies), our yard has not seen a squash plant. Does it have an evil ability to sense the squash plant from great distances??

It doesn’t sound too easy to control, especially since I’m not keen on using chemicals.  I guess I’ll be digging around the stems in the morning, looking for signs of a larvae I might try to cut out.

My only consolation is that I just remembered that I randomly came across the most ginormous, hairy spider living in a screw hole of a table in the boys’ playhouse.  I spotted it because it was the size of a silver dollar (I swear.  I never exaggerate.) and it was gnawing on a still living bug.  The bug was squirming and trying to free itself, but it was clear that it was Lunch.  That spider must have just pounced on it, because there was no web in sight.  I ran to grab my camera because it was SO WILD, but by the time I got back outside, the spider had retreated to the screw hole.  All that could be seen was it’s mouth and the writhing victim.  I took a picture of what was visible and forgot about that photo as well.  Until tonight.  I think that bug being eaten alive may also have been a squash vine borer.  If that’s the case, I feel a little bad about dousing the playhouse with gas and lighting it on fire to kill the spider.


9 responses »

  1. Robin – I am a no-chemical gardener, except for this issue. I tried to get around it, but there is a 2nd squash bug that can also be a problem & will kill your efforts quickly. Look for little eggs just under the plant leaves. You can tear these off & discard. . . but the best way is to simply bite the bullet & pre-emptively liberally dust the plant at the first sign of either of these guys. After this, I do nothing more & enjoy a summer of zucchini & yellow squash, etc. With 1-2 months till production, I guess I feel there is plenty of time for all the bad stuff to go away. It is the only thing in my garden I address. I will be curious to hear how it goes! I’d better go out & do a check myself!

    • So what do you dust with, Nancy? The variety I’m growing produces 2 – 3″ round “cue ball” squash, so I actually have a couple I can harvest already. I guess I’ll pick what I can now, dust, and then hope for the best.

  2. Bummer. Too bad you killed Aragog, maybe you should have just made him a home in the garden instead. It might have been a wolf spider – those hunt without webs and we used to get ENORMOUS ones at Black Hawk up in the top corners of the tents. Do you remember that?

    • Ugh. WHY did I just Google wolf spiders?? Yes, I think that’s what it was. And no, I didn’t actually kill it because it seemed too cruel to destroy it while it was eating. And I generally don’t mind spiders outside. But now I can’t find it, and I assume it’s living somewhere in the playhouse. Awesome. At least it should be a year or two before it’s big enough to run off with the children.

  3. WAIT! I KNOW! I will lure the wolf spider from his lair and transplant him to my squash plants!!! (And then only harvest with elbow-length leather gloves.)

  4. These “critters” have pretty regular timing, starting at the end of June. I usually plant my squash a bit late so they aren’t mature enough to interest the borers when they show up. Otherwise, wrap aluminum foil around the base of the vine to protect it and check your plants regularly during this window of time–several weeks. For more good organic advice, check this out:

    • Hooray for Meribeth, master gardener extraordinaire to the rescue! So happy you commented 🙂 It makes me smile just to see your name.

  5. Thanks Meribeth. I checked around my stems and don’t see any signs of them, amazingly, so I’ll wrap with foil and hope for the best!

  6. Pingback: State of the garden, June and July 2011 « Domestic Wormhole

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