Squash bugs are an occasional pest of pumpkins and squash. They are more commonly found in home gardens than in commercial production fields. However, the summer of 2012 does seem to be the summer of the bug. After many growers dealt with unprecedented cucumber beetle populations earlier this summer, we are now receiving numerous reports of squash bugs in commercial fields.
Squash Bug nymphs have pear-shaped, pearly grey bodies with darker legs and antennae. As the nymphs grow they become darker and wing pads begin to develop. Squash Bug adults have flattened, tear-shaped bodies. They are brownish-grey with yellow-to-orange markings.
Both the adults and the nymphs suck sap from the leaves, stems and fruit. The feeding injury may cause the plants to wilt and eventually become necrotic. As harvest approaches and the canopy begins to die back, squash bugs may begin feeding on the fruit. This causes white discolorations and may impact marketability. Squash bugs may also act as disease vectors, transmitting cucurbit yellow vine disease.
Squash bugs are commonly found in fairly large colonies with several different stages of development present at the same time. They are attracted to weedy and sheltered areas; monitor field edges, leaf undersides and the lower surface of the developing fruit for activity. If the populations continue to increase from week to week, or if they become widespread across the field, an insecticide application may be necessary to prevent yield loss.
Matador is now registered for the control of both cucumber beetle and squash bug.