Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bubblegum Bugs!

I was peeking at the cucumbers last night and look at what I found:

That cucumber is about 3 inches long.  Isn’t it amazing how perfect it is?  I mean, it’s a whole cucumber, just …  little!  It’s all right there, just waiting…

Then I noticed that one of the plants isn’t doing so well... In fact, it was that plant with the cute little 1 cm cucumbers that I showed you a couple of days ago.  I bent down to examine it and noticed that something has eaten through some of the stems.  It was just like that Bible story where Jonah was sitting under a vine and the worm ate the vine!  I’ve always wondered how one little worm could kill a plant overnight… well, now I know.  If the stem is destroyed of course the nutrients can’t get to the rest of the plant and the plant withers up and dies and (most importantly to me) that means… no cucumbers.  When I was looking at it, I even found the little bugger who is responsible:  A squash bug!  I tried to take a picture of him, but he blends in so well and moves too fast for my photographic abilities.  Well, where there’s one nasty bug, I’m willing to bet there’s more.  Anyway, Papa the farmer told me that after you squish a squash bug, it smells like bubblegum… Personally, I am too squeamish to test this theory, so I won’t tell you how I know this, but you know what?  It’s true!  It really does smell like bubblegum!  At first I wondered, “Why would God create a little bug who comes along and kills your plants, and then smells like bubblegum after you squish it?”  But I guess the real question here is, “Who came along, squished a squash bug and thought to himself, ‘Hey, I know!  Let’s make a sticky substance for people to walk around chewing just like they’re eating, except they’re not really eating… and let’s make it smell just like a squished squash bug!”

Who thought that up?


  1. Here is some info. that I found that might help you with your squash bugs:
    Some studies have shown that companion planting or trap cropping (growing the bugs' favorite foods in order to lure them away from your garden crops and into the trap crop where you will catch and destroy them) can provide some control as well. Plants that are purported to repel squash bugs to some degree are catnip, tansy, radishes, nasturtiums, marigolds, bee balm and mint. These can be planted near your squash plants with the goal of keeping squash bugs from finding a home in your organic garden.

    Careful variety selection (or avoidance) combined with companion planting will help with your squash bug problem but probably won't make it disappear. Planting your squash later in the season, once the majority of the squash bugs have already hatched and perished can help you gain the upper hand against these pests. If this isn't possible due to the short length of your growing season or isn't effective because you live in the South, where squash bugs have two generations a year, try using floating row cover to keep these pests off your plants. Using floating row cover (a gauzy, see-through blanket that goes over your plants) and keeping your plants watered and well-fed with compost or other organic fertilizers can help them fight off the squash bugs.

    Squash bugs do have natural enemies in the form of insects that feed on them, such as spiders and ground beetles, and diseases that strike them. Tachinid flies and some parasitic wasps prey on squash bugs by laying their eggs in them. However, affected bugs often continue to feed and lay eggs for a while after being parasitized. These beneficial insects may help you have fewer squash bugs next year, but they probably won't help you very much when it comes to saving this year's crop.

    Once this year's squash has finished its season, be sure to clean up after it properly. Tilling your squash patch or removing the spent squash plants and composting them will bury or kill many of the surviving adult squash bugs and eliminate the winter homes of many others.

  2. Thank you... I'll pass it on to the guy whose idea all this was in the first place! =)