Pest Of The Month: Squash Bug

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Squash Bug

Identification

Eggs are deposited on the lower surface of leaves, though occasionally they occur on the upper surface or on leaf petioles. The elliptical egg is flattened and bronze in color. Females deposit about 20 eggs in each cluster. Eggs may be tightly clustered or spread out, but equidistant spacing is commonly observed.

The adult is dark grayish brown in color, and the abdomen may be marked with alternating gold and brown spots. Adults can live 75 to 130 days, depending on availability and quality of food. 

Survival And Spread

The complete life cycle of squash bug commonly requires six to eight weeks. Squash bugs have two to three generations per year in warmer regions.

There are five nymphal instars. The nymphal stage requires about 33 days for complete development. 

Management

Several natural enemies of squash bug are known, mostly wasp egg parasitoids. The best known parasitoid natural enemy is Trichopoda pennipes, a brightly colored fly. Squash bug adults can be difficult to kill with insecticides. Although adult control can be accomplished if the correct material is selected, it is advisable to target the more susceptible nymphs. Carbaryl, endosulfan, and some pyrethroids are all labeled for control. Pollinators should be taken into account before insecticides are applied.

Squash bugs are not often considered a severe pest in large-scale commercial production, but can be a major problem on small-scale organic operations.                

Gene McAvoy is a UF/IFAS Hendry County Extension agent based in LaBelle, FL.

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