RED ALERT: SQUASH BUG IS HERE. WE NEED YOUR HELP!
A horrible pest has just made its way over to Cropsey Community Farm.
The squash bug was first spotted on Monday morning on our first
planting of summer squash all the way on the Northeast end of the
field. This pest is incredibly destructive to all plants in the
cucurbitaceae family (cucumbers, squash, pumpkins) and is very
difficult to control organically. Both the adults and nymphs damage
plants by sucking nutrients from leaves and disrupting the flow of
water in the plants. On these plants in the north end of the field we
are seeing massive numbers of eggs, and nymphs (young bugs) ALL OVER
Fortunately, this area of squash that is being attacked so heavily is
on the other side of the field from our newer plantings of summer
squash, cucumbers and pumpkins, but unfortunately is very close to our
winter squash. There is still time to save the plants though!
So how are we managing this potentially devastating situation?
Well, we really need your help to do this!
We have been monitoring the newer plantings of summer squash,
cucumbers, winter squash and pumpkins for signs of the bug. We have
seen eggs and adult squash bugs on the plants and have been killing
them instantly. This involves stopping and inspecting every single
plant in the bed, turning over leaves and checking for eggs and
adults, and when seeing them, crushing them between two rocks. On
these newer plantings, we need to catch the eggs BEFORE they hatch,
and get the adults before they lay the eggs.
On the first planting of squash that has been completely taken over,
we are going to have to spray a NOFA certified organic insecticide
called pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is a botanical insecticide produced
primarily in the flowers of Tanacetum cinerariaefolium, a species of
the chrysanthemum plant family. The unfortunate thing about pyrethrum
is that it is not a selective insecticide, meaning that it will kill
all insects it comes into contact with, both pests and beneficials. So
today we will be removing ALL of the flowers from these infested
plants before we spray them. This is to keep the bees and parasitic
wasps, and other beneficial insects away from the plants.
So how can you help?
Come to the farm and go on a treasure hunt in the squash and pumpkin
beds to find squash bug eggs and then kill them! We need as many hands
and eyes as we can get to prevent these horrible pests from spreading
any more! This can also be a really great activity for kids!
So come on out and help us save the cucurbits!
The farm team