I came up with a new way to eradicate squash beetle eggs yesterday. My friend Mark Lattanzi says that’s blog-worthy, and I do everything he says, so here goes:
I truly loathe the squash beetle, which rains on my pumpkin parade every year without fail. I hate the way they suck the life right out of your Cucurbitae vines, leaving a withered, rotting mess. I hate the way they attack plump squash en masse and turn them into zombie-gourds. I hate the way they scrabble about when you try to catch them. I hate the way they hide in your mulch.
This year, I thought I had ’em licked, because I heard they hate the smell of radish greens. So I planted radishes next to every squash, melon, and gourd in my garden and until this week, I didn’t see even one. But then, yesterday, I lifted up a fat zucchini leaf and there they were, those incongruously beautiful little copper eggs lined up in neat rows like jewelry. Ugh!
Some of the leaves had multiple clutches, so I severed those completely and tossed them, far far away from the garden. But a few healthy leaves had just a few eggs, which tended to scatter when I tried to scrape them off. That’s when I hit upon it–tape! I got some off-brand 2-inch clear packing tape from inside the house, lined up the tape edge against the affected rib of the leaf, and pressed. It took a couple of tries since my tape wasn’t the stickiest, but pretty soon every last egg came off. Then I folded over the tape. Goodbye squash bug eggs!
The trick worked even better with newly hatched squash bug nymphs–tiny, creepy, and usually the devil to dispose of. But with their eensy little legs, they stuck right to the tape first try. It was like cleaning cat hair off a sweater! but slightly more disgusting. You can also catch a grown squash bug with tape–it’s easier than trying to nab the speedy little creep with your fingers, and his big shield-shaped back has lots of surface area for sticking to tape. Aren’t you sorry you’ve got an exoskeleton, buster!
Maybe it ain’t humane, but it’s fast, easy, and 100% organic. I’m sure I’m not the first to avail myself of tape, but I’m still glad I thought of it.