An Observation on Squash Vine Borers

Here’s a photo of my man-eating, hostage-taking squash polyculture bed. It’s hard to tell, but there are dragontongue beans, cosmos, tomatillos, and a young Fuyu persimmon tree in there too. These are all planted in the center hill-bed. The squash vines have spread 10 feet in every direction.

squash vines1

I thought these were going to be Seminole pumpkins, but they are a mix of Spaghetti squash and an as-yet-unidentified squash or maybe pumpkin with green stripes.

Obviously spaghetti squash.

Obviously spaghetti squash.

And obviously not spaghetti squash.

And obviously not spaghetti squash.

Here’s an interesting observation on Squash Vine Borer management. I planted my “pumpkins” early, the first weekend in March, in straight compost with a little blood meal. In April I found some squash vine borer eggs and squished them. After that I knew I couldn’t get them all, the plants are just too big. So this morning I was checking the plants and saw this. This is obviously where a squash vine borer emerged, but it didn’t kill the plant! It only killed the leaf stem, not the whole vine. I then found five more holes like this on other vines, all fine and growing healthy with fruit on them.

vineborerdamage

My theory is that these vines were old/large/strong enough to withstand the borer damage because I planted them so early. The squash vine borers may have emerged late because of that late frost we had in March. Whatever the factors, next year I will plant squash a week earlier than I did this year and hope for the same results. This means that SVB are not always  instant death to squash plants, older healthy plants can withstand the damage and still produce.

other squash 1

This is a whole ‘nother issue. About half the fruit produced by both types of squash die in this manner, discolored and shriveled but with no visible insect damage and no visible larvae inside. This might be the result of leaf-footed bugs sucking the life out of the young fruits, I killed probably 50 juvenile leaf-footed bugs this week.

I am deeply happy at the success of my developing food forest overall. This patch of ground was weedy sugar sand just a year ago. I will be disappointed if none of these plants end up being Seminole pumpkins, but that’s the risk you take with home seed-saving and planting home-saved seeds. Good thing I like spaghetti squash!

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