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Country Discussion Topics
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Zucchini bugs
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mouseinthewall    Posted 07-16-2002 at 06:15:01       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hi Everyone- I have a problem with my zucchini- the flowers open for a day (if they open at all) and then close tight and fall off within a day or so without starting any fruit. I have been trying to rid the plants of a small striped beetle which I assume is a squash pest, but the rotenone I dusted them with (before the flowers developed) hasn't done much good- I know there are "organic" or natural methods to repel these pests and want to know your suggestions. Is the beetle the only problem I'm having? The soil where I planted isn't in the most fertile condition, but I was working against time to get things planted since I have a short growing season here in the North. I appreciate your advice.


June in SD    Posted 09-18-2002 at 08:47:04       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Add some magnesium to the soil. Mag sulfate better know as Epsom Salts and hand pick the beetles or get some guinea hens to eat the bugs.


Les...fortunate    Posted 07-16-2002 at 12:20:05       [Reply]  [No Email]
So you're the one who plants zucchini.


no name    Posted 07-16-2002 at 11:00:53       [Reply]  [No Email]

you need to plant some male squashes


Tom A    Posted 07-16-2002 at 07:23:25       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hi Mouse:

Not sure about the beetle, there's quite a few that attack cucerbits.

But I suspect you have a pollination problem with your plants. While it is not unusual for the first few flowers on a cucerbit to open and fall without being pollinated as the plant matures, if it continues after the first few, there is a problem.

I am going to take a guess that perhaps the rotenone you are dusting your plants with is killing the beneficial insects that are trying to pollinate the flowers. If no pollination takes place, the flowers die and drop and the plant tries again. Cucerbits in particular need lots of pollination, usually several visits by a bee or other pollinator.

You should really never spray/dust plants that are in bloom for exactly this reason (as a beekeeper, this is a subject close to my heart!).

I'd suggest letting the pesticide wash off while the plants are blooming, then you can begin again once the fruit has set.

good luck!
Tom A


Mouseinthewall    Posted 07-16-2002 at 16:03:56       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hi Tom- I have some marigolds interplanted with my squash and the bees have been going to those- I was careful not to dust the squash after the flowers appeared so the bees wouldn't be affected, but the blossoms are still falling off.
I think that the squash bugs are climbing inside the flowers, 'stimulating' them to close and then ruining their chance to get pollinated by our friends the bees. I only have a few plants and see no damage from borers. Can I use safer soap to repel the bugs? Will that affect the flowers?


Tom A    Posted 07-17-2002 at 06:05:28       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Safer soap is a contact insecticide...doesn't, to my knowledge, have any residual value once it dries so it is ok.

I remember deep down in the recesses of my brain that some type of mineral deficiency can cause premature drop (again, it's rusty but maybe bone meal helps??). The only other thing I can think of was triggered by the post above--cucerbits do have male and female flowers, although I think/thought they were both kinds on the same plants. Male flowers don't produce fruit, so maybe for some reason your vine(s) are only producing males.

Sorry to not be more help....


bob    Posted 07-16-2002 at 07:37:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
if vines are dying you have a squash bug which thet eat the stem . hard to get rid of. had same problem when spraying while in bloom


Tom A    Posted 07-16-2002 at 09:04:46       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I have had luck getting the squash bugs (the borer stage, after the eggs hatch and before they turn to the bugs) in past years with a single-edged razor blade.

You can look at the base of the vine where they bore in, and make as small a slice with the blade as possible and carefully dig that sucker out of there...(mutilation of borers is ok).

If you were careful and didn't cut through, the vines usually heal over and the borers are dead. It is fairly time consuming, so it won't work if you have lots of vines but for just a few it works well.

After the bloom is done, then dust again to prevent re-infestation
Tom A


WallSal55    Posted 07-16-2002 at 08:57:31       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have a friend who swears by spreading flour to
get rid of squash bugs. Now I do not know if it
takes care of all types of squash bugs/pests.


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