Skip to main content
How to deal with squash borer organically and win!

How to deal with squash borer organically and win!

Posted by Jennifer Dixon on 25th Jun 2024

The squash vine borer (Melittia cucurbitae) is a significant pest for gardeners and farmers, particularly those growing squash and other cucurbit plants such as zucchini, pumpkins, and gourds. This insect is a moth in its adult form, but it is the larval stage that causes the most damage. The adult moths are often mistaken for wasps due to their bright orange-red bodies and black wings. They lay their eggs at the base of the host plant, and once the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the stems to feed.

The damage caused by squash vine borers can be devastating. As the larvae tunnel through the stems, they 

disrupt the flow of water and nutrients within the plant, which can cause wilting and eventually lead to 

plant death if not managed properly. Symptoms of an infestation include sudden wilting of the plant, holes 

at the base of the stem, and sawdust-like frass (insect waste) near the entry points. Once inside the stem, the 

larvae are difficult to control, making early detection and prevention crucial. 

Dealing with squash borers organically can pose a challenge, but it is achievable with the right tactics. 

Organic approaches emphasize prevention, observation, and non-chemical remedies.

  • Preventive Measures:
    • Crop rotation: Avoid planting squash in the same spot annually to disrupt the squash borer life cycle. 
    • Row covers: Use covers to stop moths from laying eggs; remove them during flowering for pollination.
    • Plant resistant varieties like butternut squash, which have tougher stems.
  • Methods:
    • Apply Vaseline to the stem  3 inches above soil level or inject B.T. a worm killer every 7 to 10 days.
    • Monitor plants for eggs or damage, manually remove eggs, and larvae if found.
    • Utilize beneficial nematodes in the soil to combat larvae populations.

With consistent effort and attention, organic strategies can effectively control squash borer infestations and 

maintain plant health.

For Squash Seeds Click Here