Tag Archives: squash bugs

Summer Squash Season

Hot summer weather is good summer squash weather. There are lots of varieties to choose from with lots of different tastes.

In the past I’ve grown patty pan with its cool melon honeydew taste. Zucchini and its similar varieties are a favorite. Yellow crookneck has that difficult shape. The yellow straightneck is nice.

Zephyr summer squash plants
My winter squash plants are racing along with vines trying to cover the garden. The zephyr summer squash has foot long vines and huge leaves.

This year I’m growing Zephyr. Its shape is similar to a zucchini. It’s color is yellow at the narrow end and green over the seeds. White spots scattered over all aren’t very noticeable, but pale the other colors. It has a mild flavor.

Summer squash is easy to grow from seed. I dig down and turn out a shovel full of dirt. The hole is filled with compost. The dirt is replaced to form a mound. Seeds are stuck in the mound and watered in.

zephyr summer squash fruit
Since their vines are so short, summer squash plants send up lots of closely spaced flowers. The tall ones are males. The short ones with tiny squash below them are female flowers. Zephyr squash is partially yellow and partially green.

Seeds germinate in about a week with large oval cotyledons. Small leaves follow. The plants remain small for about two weeks.

The plants are busy putting down roots. Unlike winter squash, summer squash plants do not vine. The roots arrive at the compost. Overnight the leaves reach a foot across and the plants double in size.

adult squash bug
An adult squash bug has long antennae on a small, long head. The thorax is triangular. Wings begin behind the thorax and cross over each other making a triangular shape marking the bugs as members of the true bug family. All members of the family have a stabbing mouth part. As squash bugs feed on sap, insecticides don’t kill them as they don’t eat them. The squash bugs are similar to wheel assassin bugs which prey on other insects.

My summer squash plants are waist high and as big in circumference. They are blooming madly. Squash is forming and overflowing in the refrigerator.

That bane of any cucurbit grower has noticed my squash. Squash bugs do prey on other plants out in the pasture. They prefer the taste of squash.

summer squash bug eggs
Squash bugs lay lots of eggs. They are often in a triangular formation between two veins. These are more scattered. Other times they are in a long line up a stem or petiole. In hot weather they can hatch in a few days.

These pests are in the true bug family which means they have wings that cross on their backs making a little triangle at the top. They feed by stabbing their mouth into a stem or leaf and drinking the sap.

Squash bugs begin as eggs. These are often laid as a group between two veins near and under the leaf. They can be strung out along a stem. They can be a cluster on top of a leaf.

I remove and squash as many as I can find.

The eggs hatch into little gray nymphs. They stay as a group sucking the leaf dry. The nymphs molt and grow larger.

squash bug nymphs
Squash bug nymphs start as tiny dark grey things like in the upper right. They molt and become the small gray nymph. These molt and get bigger. The next molt gives them an adult shape. All of them drink sap and drink leaves and stem dry. They will feed on juices in a developing squash stunting or destroying it.

Finally the nymphs become winged adults. These and other adults hide during the day in mulch, nearby grass, under leaves and stems. Whenever I find them, I squash them. They stink when squashed.

Eventually the bugs overwhelm the summer squash plants and kill them. Until then I will battle their infestation and enjoy the squash.