Slipping into Summer

The summer solstice will soon be upon us, marking the official start of summer. We hope your garden is thriving and provides a bountiful harvest this season. We also hope you make time this summer for relaxation!

The coming of summer also means that fall catalogs are arriving in mailboxes. Once again we are offering a wide range of spring and summer blooming bulbs, perennials, ferns, ornamental grasses, and edibles like garlic, blueberries, and strawberries. We also offer a wide range of garden and kitchen supplies to help you protect your garden and enjoy its bounty.

Order early for the best selection. All orders over $150 will receive FREE expedited shipping. Please click here if you would like to be added to our catalog mailing list or click here to view the Fall 2018 catalog online.

Stopping Squash Bugs

Squash bugs (Anasa tristis) is a common pest of squash, pumpkin, and cucumbers. They also sometimes attack melons. It is a true bug (order Hemiptera) with needle-like mouthparts that suck plant juices and inject a toxic saliva. Adult squash bugs are generally dark brown or grey in color with a flat, elongated shape. Their eggs are yellowish to bronze colored and shaped like small footballs. Eggs are generally laid on the undersides of leaves and on plant stems. Nymphs are initially light green with dark heads. As they grow, they change to grey and then brownish grey before becoming adults.

Feeding damage can cause leaf discoloration and dead patches. Fruit can also be attacked, leading to scarring, distorted growth, and early rotting. High populations can cause leaves to blacken, wilt, and die completely. Squash bugs are also reported to be able to vector cucurbit yellow vine decline (CYVD), a bacterial disease that was recently recognized.

Squash bugs tend to aggregate in groups when they are feeding, but quickly scurry away when disturbed. This makes them somewhat difficult to hand pick or dislodge into a container of soapy water.

Adults overwinter in plant debris in cold climates. For this reason, removing or tilling plant debris into the soil in fall is helpful to reduce adult populations the following spring.

Control of this pest is most important when seedlings are small and most susceptible to damage and when plants are flowering, as damage at this time can reduce production. Early in the season, young seedlings can be protected from damage with fleece tunnels or floating row covers. Covers should be removed by the time plants flower, to allow for pollination.

Insecticides can be used to control squash bugs, but they are most effective against squash bug nymphs when they are young and immature. Adults and large nymphs are more challenging to control with insecticides. When spraying, ensure that the leaf undersides and surfaces are treated. When treating flowering plants with insecticide, spray late in the day when pollinators are not active, to avoid harming them.

Scout plants regularly for squash bug eggs. Pay particular attention to stems and leaf undersides near the base of plants. Destroying or removing eggs before they hatch is very helpful in reducing squash bug damage.

Growing vining varieties on trellises may help to reduce problems with squash bug damage, as it reduces the number of leaves close to the ground, where squash bugs prefer to feed and lay eggs.

Trapping is another option for squash bug control. Putting boards or shingles on the soil surface near squash plants provides an attractive nighttime hiding place for the pest. In the morning, before they emerge from hiding, the pests can be sprayed with insecticide, crushed, or dropped into soapy water.

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