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This is what squash vine borer eggs look like

16 years ago

also posted in Vegetables

Thanks to some fine GW gardeners I found out yesterday that the eggs in the photo below are those of the squash vine borer. Thought you might like to see them.

I'd thought that the eggs were primarily laid at the base, but mine were mostly on the leaf tops. These eggs are miniscule - smaller than the head of a pin. Reddish-brown. Squishable.

I wish the photo was better, sorry about that. The eggs are mostly on the top leaf. Maybe this message will help someone like me that just wants some decent squash! Happy Gardening! Maureen

Comments (73)

  • 11 years ago

    omg sorry wrong one! Droid told me red and blk wasp like moth and thats what i hunted w/o verification. when i get to my computer i'll edit if i can so as not to confuse! back out with the raquet! hehe

  • 11 years ago

    Here we go....sorry guys had the wrong bug, great ANOTHER insect to research lol

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  • 9 years ago

    I am surprised that the SVB lay eggs on the leaves of squash. Wouldn't the larvae not be able to bore into anything and just roll off the plant or bore through and fall to the ground?

    I am trying out 30% shade cloth over my squash this year since the moth cannot fly through that, yet it would allow small pollinators through. So far so good. Unless the moth crawls through and then flies to the plant it can't get to the squash. They are not very good walkers and prefer to fly everywhere.


  • 9 years ago

    I'm using Agribon+ AG-15 Insect Barrier. It's pretty light stuff. Supposed to allow 90% light through.

    So far, so good. Been picking a good amount of Zucchini and I also have a very SVB susceptible winter squash going. I've been lifting and working under the covers to pollinate and harvest. I can't say nothing will get under there tomorrow, but so far, no insect damage at all!

    Just this morning I was thinking that it would be nice to have a bee hive with an entrance, or pathway into the row cover tunnel! The bees would guard the pathway well lol. It would just have to be far enough away that the bees didn't consider the row cover tunnel as part of their hive.

  • 9 years ago

    If interested you guys can look at my blog:

    http://cabalgarlandtxgarden.blogspot.com

    I have various posts from multiple years where I discuss my battles with SVB.

    Its starts with this post:

    http://cabalgarlandtxgarden.blogspot.com/2012/09/squash-vine-borers.html

    To summarize, here is my current SVB battle plan:

    1. Cover plants with tulle fabric (very cheap) netting until female flower appear

    2. For "bush-type" plants such as summer squash/zukes - hand pollinate and keep tulle netting as much as possible, or until aphids start weaking havoc.

    3. For pumpkins/winter squash - remove netting when plants get too big, but completely cover base and all vines with mulch. Dig in runner vines into dirt. These develop many secondary roots along the leaf nodes, and your plant can easily survive SVB attacks then because its rooted at many points not just the base.

    4. Once netting is removed from plants, inspect plants every few days for eggs. They can be anywhere. That's why I like covering base and runner vines with dirt/mulch since this helps limit where I need to look for eggs. So basically I just focus on new growth.

    5. BT injections sometimes help. When I see slightly yellowing, swollen vine sections, those are signs of SVBs inside. I will inject with SVB. I will also sometimes use a wire and stab the SVBs inside.

    6. Timing - try planting times that avoid the peak of the SVB infestations -- try late season plantings.


  • 9 years ago

    I really like your idea of covering everything with mulch from the get-go to keep them off of the vines. You could just use compost and then they plants would get a much needed boost as a benefit.


  • 9 years ago

    Yeah, I use compost if available, but otherwise what I use for mulch is leaves or grass clippings. I never throw leaves or grass clippings away... in fact I often collect bags of leaves from the neighbors curbside and put them to good use.


  • 9 years ago

    Apparently they make a satisfying popping sound if you squish them with a fingernail.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    SVB have taken out 2 of my plants this year, one zucchini and one yellow squash. One, the zucchini, I tried to save by cutting out the borer but only found one small one and I think my over zealous cutting didn't help at all. I started out my season by going out twice daily and looking for eggs and bugs. That seemed to control the squash bugs somewhat, man those things are truly a pest! Also I was a bit perplexed as I thought squash bugs eggs were only laid on the underside of leaves. I found them on top as well, in clusters, but also here and there, singly, on the stems. Looking at the picture at the beginning of this thread, I now believe they were svb eggs. Anyway, I picked off all of the eggs I found, no matter where they were.

    A question I have, and I have read so much about svb and their life cycle that this doesn't make sense to me. If they burrow back underground and make a cocoon and over winter, why would row covers be of much help? Wouldn't they be trapped under it and subsequently be able to lay their eggs anyway?

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    You would need to rotate the crop.

    Instead of cutting open the stem, go out at night with a flashlight and you can maybe see them in the stem. Stab with a pin. I read this recently and am going to give it a try this year.

    There "here and there" eggs singly on the stems are probably SVB eggs.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Hi haileybub...

    Yep, you are right... However...

    There are some precautions you can take before using the row covers.

    The first is obvious... make a new bed never before used for squash of any variety and place the row cover soon after transplanting - prior to the SVB season begins. This technique should also work if you just let a squash bed go fallow, or rotate another non-susceptible crop into the bed for a year.

    Second... if you hope to use a bed that was planted the year before with squash... till the bed multiple times. Look for the cocoons and remove. You can do the research, but from what I remember, the larvae are somewhat picky as to their soil depth. Multiple tillings gives you more of a chance to disrupt their life-cycle, and to dispose of cocoons you find.

    This year I used row cover on a brand new bed, but for someone with limited space without that convenience, the most sensible precaution upon switching to row covers is to plant your squash in a rotated bed, then cover soon after planting. Also find the average dates of the SVB's presence in your area (add a few weeks before and after for safety.)

    Edit: Peter's comment wasn't yet showing... I've never tried the flashlight trick, but cool... other than that...yep, what he said!

  • 8 years ago

    The other thing is the SVB moths are very fast fliers and if they came out of their cocoons under your cover, I bet their first priority would be to escape, then find a mate. So I bet you would find them under your cover buzzing around trying to escape.

  • 8 years ago

    Thanks all! The row covers make sense now, I will rotate my crop, I just love summer squash. I'll put all of these suggestions to use. And just to make sure I understand, shine a flashlight on the stem and it will sort of illuminate the inside and you should be able to see the evil things in there, take a pin and stab them and just leave them in there? That would be great if it is that easy. I just lost another yellow squash plant today. Oh, and this may be way out there, but what if there is both male and female moths trapped under the cover? And while on the subject of squash plant pests, any tips on the control of squash bugs would be great! There is probably a whole other forum, but feel free to give me advice. So far, I hand pick or use tape to remove the eggs, and for the nymphs or adults, I spray with a bottle of Dr. Bonners soap mixed with water. That seems to keep them somewhat under control, however, one is one too many for me.

  • 8 years ago

    Hey haileybub,

    I'll let the others chime in on their suggestions, I can only speak from my experience.

    I have 2 beds under row covers. One is zucchini, the other is a winter squash. The cover is what's referred to as an 'insect barrier'. It is the thinnest one I could find... lets 90% of light through.

    These are both new beds. If you rotate, you should be under the same conditions. I put the covers over the beds right after transplant, and I haven't had insect troubles of any kind. The down side is that I have to hand pollinate both beds.

    I'm not saying that I won't get bugs eventually, but so far, I've been harvesting zucchini for about a month, and not one bad bug has got in the tunnels. I've also got a bunch of winter squash, so far, growing happily.

    If hand pollinating is something you don't have the time to do (it's pretty easy actually,) then another strategy is to call your county ext. office, find out the SVB's active time frame in your area, plant outside those dates.

    The row covers though defeat both the borer, and squash bugs.

    This is from a month ago...



    I bought the insect barrier from a seed company, and I got the pvc from curbside trash piles.


  • 8 years ago

    That looks fantastic! What a great way to find things. I am always on the lookout but haven't run across a great find like those pipes. One man's trash....!

  • 8 years ago

    Here are a couple of yellow crookneck squash plants that I have under tulle netting. I bought some small PVC pipes that I use to make the frame for them. I tuck the edges of the fabric down by piling dirt around the edges. When the plant outgrows this, I have a bigger piece of tulle fabric that I will replace it with, and use a bigger frame.

  • 8 years ago

    Excellent ccabal. Ingenuity at its best! Necessity is the... well you know...


  • 8 years ago

    I want to say so far so good with the twice a week stem Bt sprayings, but it is still so early...

  • 8 years ago

    Early? Usually by the 4th of July you would see the signs of infestation.

  • 8 years ago

    Well, it is not very early, but I think here in NY it is too early to break out the Champagne.

  • 8 years ago

    I found an egg yesterday evening - so they are definitely still around. I have 2 plants I can't find the base of the stem anymore without damaging the plants, and soon I will have difficulty manuvering on the other side as well between the squashes and tomatoes. Keeping my fingers crossed.

  • 8 years ago

    I hate the idea of having to use row covers/etc., so I needed another alternative. So far this year, my path to success has worked fairly well to keep both SVB and squash bugs away from my squash. The first thing I did is plant marigolds in the middle of the hill where I was planting my squash seeds. The second thing I've been doing is using fronds of tansy cut and draped across the squash leaves. I've added new ones every week or so. I originally planted the tansy near some of my rainbarrels to somewhat deter mosquitoes, but now I'm seeing an alternate reason to have several clumps of this large flowering weed in different parts of my yard. I already am having some of the best squash success that I've ever had, though I know it is not necessarily a full season solution. Because of my recent troubles with SVB and squash bugs in previous years, I planted the tromboncini squash this year, which I was told are more resistant. Well, not only does it grow like mad in all directions(think pumpkin vine out of control), it also makes lots and lots of very delicious squash that can be eaten like summer squash when picked early, or it can be left on the vine to toughen up and be more like winter squash. I have seen no pest damage of any sort on them, and I've done nothing to protect them. I think this will be a regular in my garden from now on.


  • 8 years ago

    drumbeat, everything about your post is fascinating! How did you come up with the idea of tansy? (Which I've never heard of, but may have seen, googling now)

  • 8 years ago

    sorry drmbear,
    I'm a little confused by your post... So have you avoided SVB because of the tansy/marigolds or because you planted tromboncini squash? (C. moschata) which I've read doesn't get SVB anyways...
    I consider it a true experiment if you have planted C. Pepo or C. Maxima and avoided SVB, since these are susceptible.


  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    here is my yellow crookneck squash. I had to put bigger piece of tulle cause the plants are getting quite large.

    A bunch of male flowers about to open.
    Here is a volunteer pumpkin plant, which came out of some compost I put in the garden. I let it grow uncovered as an "indicator" to monitor the SVB activity. They are definitely active. I've been picking eggs off it it daily. I also started burrying the base and the runners with dirt/compost so they take root also and to protect them from the SVB egg laying. I'm getting attached to this plant! Its definitely a C. Pepo. Might be a sugar pie pumpkin.

  • 8 years ago

    We covered our squash with 30% shade clothe and it appears to have worked, we haven't lost any plants and there is no sign of any damage from the SVB. Our thinking was that it would exclude the moth from flying in (since they don't really crawl anywhere) and yet allow some smaller pollinators in.

    We were pretty successful on the pollinator front as well. I saw many smaller pollinators under the cover, however, no large squash bees or bumble bees. They are a little too big. I am not sure if anything got pollinated or not while it was covered. Next year I think I may leave one covered and plant some pollinator attractors under the clothe.


    We have since uncovered (as of July 16th) because this is past the SVB period (we think), and have bees all over our plants now. We have some indicator plants out (mainly zucchini) and they haven't shown any signs of eggs.


    I am curious, does anyone know of a resource that gives pretty reliable date range for when SVB is active by zone? Or for just zone 5B, north Illinois? I have been assuming mid-June through mid-July.

  • 8 years ago

    I am reading Massachusets Vegetable Report as they put traps and report the SVB activity in their areas, and try to adjust to my - Central NJ. Not sure how reliable it would be to you.

    i know that they come out when the Growing Degree Days is about 900. That usually at the same time when Chicory starts to bloom. They life is 3-4 weeks. So your assumptions are probably correct. How precise one can be?

    here is MA link

    http://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/newsletters/july_16_2015_vegetable_notes.pdf


  • 8 years ago

    tigrikt, that article was very interesting!! These awful borers have plagued farmers for a long time!! As I was reading, I imagined the people doing all of that research, out in the field and in the lab. Whew!! And I expected, at the end of the article, that perhaps they might have suggested a few sticks of dynamite may do the trick! It looks like not much has changed over the years. : (

  • 8 years ago

    Fascinating reading, I agree

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    @tigrikt, That was a great read! Much more informative than anything I
    have found from recent years. That is usually the case, old timers
    seemed to know a lot more and documented better than we do. Even most
    '.edu' sources are nothing more than basic info. I have printed it off
    and added to my collection of good info.

    The earliest known description was from 1825! I always thought this was a recent problem because I remember large harvests of pumpkins when I was younger and never having these moths around.

    According to that article, one researcher noted there were 2 generations in Iowa! I hope that is not the case as I am in the same area. The theme I picked up though was that overall ovipostion was for about 4 weeks and since we first saw them during first week of June we might be ok. Our neighbors plants are dying en masse right now, so I know we missed the first round (if there is a second). I also read several times that the second generation is generally not as aggressive and if you can get the plants established and rooted along the stem, you'll get a better harvest. Also, they will not come out of the ground around your plants if you protected them from the first round and so that should act as a buffer.

  • 8 years ago

    Ugh I thought I was safe to stop spraying my preventative Btk but now I am not so sure. NH is pretty far from here, but I am still seeing SVB moths. Do they lay eggs the entire time they are active?

  • 8 years ago

    Yes I think so. The moths only live for a few days and their main purpose is to breed. When they are done breeding they die, so if you are seeing moths they are mostly likely breeding and laying eggs.

  • 8 years ago

    According to that book excerpt from the 1930's, they are laying eggs until mid August here. :(

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I have done some reading about wild squash plants this morning and have discovered there really isn't a native wild cucurbitae in the Eastern United states except for one that is found in the Ozark region, stretching from Oklahoma through Arkansas, Missouri and parts of Illinois. It is called Cucurbita Pepo ozarkana and it is believed to be the wild ancestor to all summer squash. It is found mostly in floodplain areas along ozark rivers, since the gourds float quite easily and are spread rapidly. They were an important food source for Native Americans, having up to 25% protein content.

    There are quite a few wild squash in the Southwestern United States, including the buffalo gourd and various similar species. Also, there is a wild species that is native to Texas called Cucurbita texana, or the Texas gourd.

    This was sparked by all the reading I have done about the squash vine borer and how it survives on domestic and wild cucurbits. I kept thinking to myself, I have never heard of, nor seen a wild squash plant and the wild cucumbers we have are much too small. So my reasoning was correct, there really aren't any wild squash plants in my area (and most of the USA). This leads me to believe they survive off of domestic squash (and maybe garden escapes) and I wonder if everyone just stopped growing squash for 1 or 2 years, if the moth would just....disappear?

  • 8 years ago

    Probably would find another host

  • 8 years ago

    Peter, do you grow winter squash?

    If not, things are easier

    I was thinking that even If they deposit eggs now, it would take 7-10 days for eggs to hatch, and another 3-4 weeks of feeding before any signs of decline. It would bring us to the end of August...plenty of zucchini for 1.5 months. And that w/o spraying


    there is a forum how to grow giant pumpkins, people actively discuss SVB there, cannot find it in my bookmarks right away, has a name something like giant pumpkin

  • 8 years ago

    Yes I am growing a few kinds of zucchini, honey bear acorn squash, bush delicata, and cinnamon girl pumpkins. My biggest concern is the pumpkins as they are just now setting fruit. They seem to be hard stemmed though...

  • 8 years ago

    As a clarification, I planted the tromboncini, fairly resistant to most normal squash pests, so I would be sure to get some good squash this summer. The last few years I've had poor luck with my summer squash. Also, I planted as usual some zukes, yellow squash, and pattypans. From some of the companion planting info I had been reading, I planted marigolds(plants) in the center of each hill where I was going to plant the squash several weeks before actually planting the seeds so they would have a nice start. I had a clump of tansy growing for the first time this year, and it has some significant insect repelling qualities. Starting when the squash plants were still fairly young, about once a week I cut tansy fronds and draped them across the squash plants. Right up until I ran out of fronds to cut, I hadn't seen any signs of squash bugs or SVB, except for just a few SB eggs(which I pinched), which is unusual for me in this central Virginia location. Next spring I'm going to divide this tansy and put big clumps in strategic locations around my yard to make sure I have plenty of the fronds to cut and to have them close at hand. It makes a huge plant, but since I was cutting fronds it seems to have kept it more manageable.

  • 8 years ago

    There are no stupid questions, so I've heard, so I'll just ask this. I am going to pull my last zucchini out of the ground today or tomorrow as I don't think it has much life left to contribute to the last couple of little fruits. I don't believe I have any more SVB, I pulled 3 destroyed plants earlier this month, and my last zucchini survived that pest. Whats getting it now is the squash bug. Despite my aggressive attempts to control them manually, they got the better of me. I would very much like to have a later planting of yellow squash and zucchini, so would I have to find a seller that has established plants? Certainly it's too late to plant seeds, or not?

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    @haileybub, It never hurts to try :) A couple of years ago I planted a blue hokkaido winter squash about this time and we managed to get a couple of fruit. I think being in zone 7a you would be fine. In zone 5a we still have about 80-90 days of pre-frost left.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    cmonkey :I've thought the same thing too, and remember trying to figure out what they mean by "wild cucurbits".

    tigrikt - Thanks for posting that article. I love reading those old articles and seeing what people did a long time ago. I had to google "Cymlings" as I had no idea what he was talking about... they are another name for "Pattypan"... interesting.

    I always wonder what the Native americans did, when they grew pumpkins. I bet they probably had some good tricks they used.

    Its interesting how the articles names these different pesticides they recommend. Looking them up, they are all banned now for home use for being too toxic.

    Its a wonder our ancestors didn't all die of cancer and poisoning with all these chemicals they used!

    I like the idea of an "ovicide". I wonder if we have anything now in modern times would not be very toxic but could do the same thing. Would be a lot easier to just spray the vines than hand pick the eggs.


  • 8 years ago

    What do you guys think about this:

    http://www.amazon.com/Orcon-TR-C3SQ-Live-Trichogramma-Squares/dp/B0050QK6YE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437537509&sr=8-1&keywords=trichogramma+wasps


    tricogramma wasps... they say they parasitize over 200 kinds of caterpillars.

    I google it but don't find any definitive statements that they effectively control SVB.

    But its not too expensive... Has anyone ever tried these?



  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    ccabal, I can't say for sure, but trichogrammas are most effective on caterpillars that eat leaves and exist on the outside of plants, but I doubt they would be cost-effective. SVB larvae, as we know, hatch and very quickly burrow into the plant where they live and eat until they burrow out and go underground. I'm not sure the wasps would have the opportunity to find and parasitize them while they are outside the plant.

  • 8 years ago

    I read that trichgramma actually paratisize the eggs, not the larva. So I think the wasps should have no problem finding the eggs.

  • 8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Oh, thank you ccabal... I got them confused with braconids.

    Please don't take my repeated criticism as an attempt to derail your efforts. If you do try the wasps (and I hope you, or someone does,) I would enjoy learning of the results, but keep in mind that one problem of the backyard gardener releasing winged beneficials is that there is little that can be done to assure they stay in the garden. Greenhouse growers and large commercial fields have better results.

    Again, thanks for the correction, and I hope any effort succeeds.

  • 8 years ago

    ccabal, I just looked it up, and on this site, in the 'fine print', they do say that with good timing, the trichogramma will parasitize SVB eggs... http://www.arbico-organics.com/product/moth-egg-parasites-trichogramma-minutum/pest-solver-guide-caterpillars-moths

  • 8 years ago

    I'm tempted to buy some.... I'll report if I do. Just wanted to see if anyone had done this before. I do have a problem with cabbage loopers too, so maybe they will take care of them too.

  • 8 years ago

    This is a big helpful topic, so for future readers I wanted to link the success stories for SVB here: http://forums2.gardenweb.com/discussions/3230732/squash-vine-borer-success?n=32

  • 8 years ago

    We have a long season here in Dallas, so I am still dealing with SVB here, and I bought some Tricogramma and released them a couple evenings ago. I am hoping they work, or at least reduce the number of SVBs. My plants are big enough that a few that escape will not cause much trouble.

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