Bug Watch: Squash Bugs

Posted: July 13, 2017

Adult squash bug laying golden yellow squash bug eggs - garden pests

An adult squash bug laying a cluster of golden (sometimes yellow to reddish) eggs.

Squash bugs (Anasa tristis)

These bugs can have explosive and multiple population growth throughout the summer and prey upon plants in the Cucurbit family. The inject their long proboscis into the stem, leaves and fruit of the plant, causing local necrosis and eventual death of the plant. The eggs are golden to yellowish to reddish and are often laid in tight cluster, although sometimes they can be found in straight lines along stems and leaf spines. The young nymphs are alien-like creatures which mature to a grey-white and then brown adult.

Squash bug nymphs and squash bug eggs - garden pests

This shows the nymph stage and an egg cluster on the underside of a squash leaf.

When squished they emit a smell something like Jolly Ranchers candy and are closely related to brown, (and brown marmorated), stink bugs (which smell more like cilantro when squished). Stink bugs have a rounder body than squash bugs. Spend some time researching Spined Soldier Bugs, which are beneficial insects to have in the garden, but can be mistaken for stink and squash bugs. Know what you’re squishing!

Spinded Soldier Bug is a good bug that preys on bad bugs in the garden

Photo Credit: University of Florida. Photograph by Michael R. Patnaude.

Tip for controlling squash bugs

  • Early control of the eggs is critical. Duct tape is an effective way to remove the eggs from the leaves without damaging the leaves. One reader told us she uses dug tapes to capture nymphs and adults alike. Check the underside of leaves, which is the preferred place to lay.
  • Squashing eggs, nymphs and adults on daily strolls through the garden can be effective for the home gardeners. Some people like to brush them in to tub with soapy water.
  • Companion planting with Nasturtiums can have some repellent effect. I am testing this theory this year. Both Nasturtiums and Squash grow vigorously, so close companion planting can be effective.
  • Squash bugs will naturally gather under a board, or shingle left laying in the garden. You can set this as a trap and then squish or drown the bugs each morning.

Nasturtiums can be interplanted with squash to help repel squash bugs.

Want to share your garden wisdom? Comment below and we’ll grow wise together!


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Chris Smith

Community Coordinator and Communications at Sow True Seed
Chris Smith is an enthusiastic grower and permaculturalist from a green-thumbed family. He has immersed himself into the world of seed and southern growing. On his urban homestead, Chris is experimenting with landraces, selective seed saving, crop trials, grow outs and edible seed oils!

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5 responses to “Bug Watch: Squash Bugs”

  1. Bracy Lilley says:

    I am wondering how effective concentrated peppermint oil will work on repelling AND killing them !!! I just saw where a vet was KILLING TICKS with it !!!! And the Lord knows, ticks ARE tough to kill !!!!!!

    • Chris Smith says:

      I’d be willing to give it a go, although I’d want to know I wasn’t killing beneficial insects too…

    • Wanda Colvin says:

      I thought the peppermint was to disguise the scent of the plant so the pest couldn’t find it easily not to kill anything. I got my info from Gary P. on youTube at The Rusted Garden

  2. I grow specialty pumpkins,like Rumbo Hybrid,each year to sell and enter in a fair.I use a glass
    jar filled with gasoline when I hand pick.I spread
    food grade Diatomaceous Earth under boards
    and around pumpkins helps,too.

  3. Ruth Turse says:

    Hello True Seed, Your posts and articles are terrific! Please continue to send them to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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