October 23rd, 2007
Bored Squash

squash borer damage

I was so excited when the weather cooled down below 60 at night a couple of weeks ago and the summer squash began flowering. Every day I’d check to see if any squash were forming. I’d chosen an heirloom squash (Early Prolific Straightneck) from Botanical Interest which is supposed to be tasty both quite small as baby vegetables and larger. AJM makes a great ratatouille and we also like summer squash lightly steamed.

Then the other day, I noticed that some of the plants look like they had “wilted” on the upper leaves.

squash borer damage

Since the entire plant hadn’t wilted, I suspected some nasty critter. I noticed one squash was all squishy. When I picked another to examine it, I saw some telltale holes.
squash borer damage

Dissecting the deceased revealed the extent of the problem.
squash borer damage

Plants are falling right and left. Every squash I’ve picked is infested. Squash vine borers have burrowed into the stem, the leaves, and the fruit. Not only are the plants infested with the typical white bodied, brown headed squash vine borers, but this bright green caterpillar is also horning in at the party.
squash borer damage

My attempts to eat fresh from the garden is stymied once again.

by M Sinclair Stevens

6 Responses to post “Bored Squash”

  1. From Diana Kirby - Austin:

    oh — I am soooo sorry. I haven’t checked mine in a week or so. I had flowers, but I’m not hopeful. I listened to Cheryl McLaughlin on the radio the day I planted them and thought I was probably doomed and beating my head against the wall just to put them into the ground. Great pictures and dissection, though!!!

  2. From Rachel from Austin:

    I had similar problems this summer. Allegedly, planting nasturtiums in and among your squash will help. I’m still testing that hypothesis.

    I just planted some nasturtiums for the first time but not near the squash. I’ll test that hypothesis next time. Great to see you got your blog up! You should go register it with Stuart Robinson’s Gardening Blog Directory. He helped put Austin on the map as the garden blog capital of the world. I’ll add you to my sidebar, too. — mss

  3. From Annie in Austin:

    Borers! I didn’t even think of borers when deciding to scratch squash off my list. In the past the squirrels always took chunks on the day before the fruit was big enough to pick.

    Sorry yours never made it to the kitchen, M!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Oh, well. For awhile, the squash made a pretty leafy green patch over an otherwise bare bit of earth excavated from digging the foundation for the garden house. And the flowers were pretty. Now that I’ve made a stab at reclaiming this land, I’ll put some winter annuals on it. Or some swiss chard. Or maybe some lettuce. — mss

  4. From Angelina:

    That is so frustrating! I’m sure we get borers here but I’ve never had them so far. I still have had difficulty getting much summer squash out of my garden but I don’t actually know why yet.

  5. From Yolanda Elizabet:

    Oh bother! I’m sorry that your squashes didn’t make it to your table, those borers are really destructive. And here I was being a bit green in the face because you are able to grow squashes at this time of year. Hopefully you will be able to grow some veggies in the garden that will make it to your plate, MSS!

    For now, I’ll just remain envious of your bounty: grapes and berries and veggies. You seem to garden in a little Eden. Sheer bliss! And when you close up the garden for winter you can snuggle indoors with your cats and plan the garden for next year. — mss

  6. From Layanee:

    Gardening can be frustrating can’t it? Squash borers, caterpillars, squirrels…pesky critters!

    Frustration is certainly part of the gardening experience. I accept it but I’ll not go so far as to say “It’s all good.” because it isn’t. Oh, yes! Those pesky squirrels. Every time I plant a row of lettuce, they seem to think that the nice soft dirt is an excellent place to bury some pecans. I’ve decided to try growing the lettuce in pots, instead. — mss