Are your squash plants suddenly struggling? It could be the work of a squash vine borer. Here are tips on how to identify, control, and get rid of the squash vine borer!
What Are Squash Vine Borers?
It can be so disappointing when your squash is thriving and suddenly starts to wilt. This may be the result of a squash vine borer (SVB), which is a type of moth that lays its eggs at the base of squash plants. When the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow (or “bore”) into the lower stems, weakening or killing the plant outright.
Found throughout the eastern United States, squash vine borers typically attack squash, zucchini, pumpkins, and various types of gourds. They prefer Hubbard squash and are not as fond of butternut squash. Other cucurbits, like cucumbers and melons, are not usually targeted.
The borers overwinter in soil as pupae in cocoons. When the adult moths emerge in early to mid-summer, they lay eggs singly or in small groups at the base of plant stems. The eggs will hatch within 1 to 2 weeks of being laid. The larvae will then bore into stems to feed for about 2 to 4 weeks; sometimes they may also bore into the fruit. In northern areas of North America, there is usually only one generation per year; in southern areas, there may be 2 generations.
If caught early, it’s possible to save the plant. If caught after the eggs hatch, it may be too late. Controlling the squash vine borer is mainly about prevention.