Squash bugs, one of the most persistent vegetable garden pests, are starting to build up now on squash and pumpkins. These gray, hard-bodied insects suck juices from plants and release a toxin in the process that causes the plants to wilt and die -- almost overnight.
You may have encountered squash bugs earlier in the season and thought you had eradicated them. However, there are two generations of these bugs during each growing season in Kansas. We are now starting to see the second generation emerge. When squash bugs are small they have a soft body and are vulnerable to a wide range of common garden insecticides. Once they grow, they become hard-bodied and no insecticides are very effective in controlling them.
To control squash bugs, look for little squash bugs under leaves and near the ground. Use a fine spray mist (almost a fog) of an insecticide labeled for the bugs and cover the undersides of leaves very thoroughly. Controlling the large population now will mean far fewer adults later in the season and reduce the overwintering populations for next year.
-- The Garden Calendar is sponsored by K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County and is written this week by Master Gardener Dottie Daugherty. For more information call the Master Gardener Hotline, 843-7058, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.