There are few things I truly hate, but vine borers make it to the top of my list. If you have never met a vine borer as a gardener, count yourself lucky. They are a species of moth that lay their eggs on the stem of squash plants. The caterpillars then eat into the stem of the squash and cut off the transport and nutrients and water from the roots to the leaves. The squash start to wilt and the entire plant dies. Plus, in the south we have a long enough season to get two rounds of vine borers.
This year I had a battle plan for the vine borers.
Step 1: Plant resistant squash varieties. C. moschata varieties are suppose to be more resistant to the borers. I planted tromboncino squash which can be picked young and can be used as a summer squash. I also planted Sweet Mama Hybrid squash which is a acorn squash that is *suppose* to be resistant.
Step 2: Plant a trap crop. Hubbard squash are suppose to be one of their favorite varieties, so my plan was to plant them as a trap crop and kill the evil borers!
My battle plan is not going as expected! My sweet mama squash started wilting (remember that this one is suppose to be resistant). Checking out the stem, this is a red flag that there's a vine borer inside:
Sometimes you can cut out the vine borer and bury the damaged part of the stem and the plant will survive. I tried this and here you can see my archenemy:
Don't be fooled by its small and harmless appearance- these guys are evil!
I buried the stem and hoped for the best. Unfortunately the plant wilted and died. I pulled it up and found that there was a second vine borer!
7 of the 9 Mama Hybrid Squash have died
1 of 3 Hubbard Squash have died
0 of 6 Tromboncino Squash have died
The trap crop is doing better than one supposedly resistant variety, but so far tromboncino is the survivor. All three hubbard squash have been attacked, two have survived so far. I cut one borer out of the one that died. As the plant continued to die, I pulled it and opened it up. There were four more vine borers! I've never seen that many before and this was at the end of May!
And the battle goes on...
Any suggestions on how to win the battle or even how to survive the battle with a few squash plants alive?