grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Looking For Evidence Of Squash Vine Borer Damage


Organic gardening sure can be stressful, and gross!

This year I'm trying to grow Yellow Zucchini for the Growing Challenge. Isn't the flower pretty? Well, don't get too excited.

2008_0629image0006The other day I spotted this ugly bug and was promptly informed that it's a Squash Vine Borer.

So I rushed out and hosed down my entire kitchen garden with this concoction that I made with cayenne pepper and proceeded to go into denial about the part where Gina in Ohio said it was probably too late and that this gross bug had likely already laid eggs that had hatched and were now inside the squash.



Then last night Carol at May Dreams Garden gave me a stern talking to over on Plurk about getting my butt out there to look for damage. So I compromised and snapped a few pictures so that I could investigate on my laptop, far away from the yuck.

Here are 2 of the plants (above) and they look pretty good, right? No obvious sign of damage.


Then there's this one. I noticed that it looks very dark (almost black) around the bottom.

Then there's that one stem over on the right that is brown and, well, dead looking. Take a closer look.


Holy Mackerel! That has got to be the most disgusting thing I've seen in a while.

The Squash Vine Borer eggs hatch and the baby worms (pictured on the left) bore into the stem of the plant where they grow into full size worms that literally suck the life out of the poor squash.

Apparently I can perform some sort of surgical operation on the plant to try to save it but I'm really inclined to just rip the entire thing out and throw it in the trash. I'm planning to sleep on this and decide what to do in the morning. I wish I knew if the dark blackish part meant that the entire thing is infested because that'd help me make the decision to compost it.

What should I do? Trash the plant or perform surgery on it? And please do not vote if you are only interested in picturing me out there puking and freaking out over the site of this disgustingness.


  1. I vote for you trying to save the squash, and by the way, you need to weed out that bindweed while you are trying to get that squash vine borer out of that stem.

  2. I vote for surgery. I want to see someone win against the SVBs! At least give it a try. If the worms are just in that stem, you can get them by just cutting off the leaf stem. If they have bored into the vine stem, you should be able to see. I hear you can remove the worms with a tweezer. If you are successful, you have added a new gardening skill. Nothing to lose.

    I usually only grow one zucchini plant each year, and every year I lose it to these pesty bugs. This year, I have the plant in a pot, so I can better patrol for the bug damage - nothing so far. One gardener told me she uses a dental mirror to check the undersides of stems.

  3. Thanks for the good info and informative photos! Think of it this way, if you don't dig them out you'll lose the plant anyway. :(

    Robin at Bumblebee

  4. I'm sorry about your squash being attacked by those pesky borers. But GREAT Blog!

  5. I thought the vine around your plant it was water convolvulus (kangkung in Malay) but apparently its bindweed. Funny how one's weed is almost a cousin to another's fav veggie.

  6. I have a huge infestation of vine borers in my squash and my pumpkin's devastating. We have six beautiful pumpkins growing and were flush with summer squash till these buggers took over. Pumpkins aren't dead yet, but the vines are getting shredded. Yellow squash...had to pull two of three out. Did surgery on the third. It's a mess...seemingly holding on by not much. There are little black bugs in addition to the borers...not sure if they are a different stage of the same thing. I took my lighter's a torch's a killing field...used a knife to find the borers and pulled them have to, or kiss the vine goodbye. Now the question is whether or not the vines will survive...was thinking about duct tape...could make a good commercial if it worked...ugh...being an organic farmer means you can't be too squeamish...wear gloves and get over it.

  7. I really hate garden pests! They always have to ruin everything. One year they completely destroyed my cucumbers :( did you get any squash?