Squash Bugs Attack!

 

Ok, this critter wasn’t doing much attacking, but STILL…

I have a natural inclination to respect all creatures, no matter how small and how many legs. These little bugs are really testing my limits though!

squash bug

Exhibit A: Dead Squash Bug

I didn’t kill him, I found him floating in the water of a vase of cut flowers on my table. Fishing dead bugs out of flower water to photograph them… The things I do in the name of blogging…

This is a squash bug. Anasa tristis. The adults overwinter in barns and houses and whatever other warm area they can find. (Which is why they are currently in my home.) I’d say I find about two a month, more than that by far in the Summer. They don’t bite or sting, but they do feed on plants! These were a major pest in my outdoor garden last Summer, and I think a few made their way up under the eaves of my roof before the cold came. Sometimes I catch them in the act of feeding on my plants! They have piercing/ sucking mouth parts, kind of a sharp tube they use to puncture the surface of a plant, then suck out the moisture. They tend to like vining plants like cucumber and, oh yeah, squash. Hence their name. They were doing their best to destroy my vining plants the last few seasons. Last year, I planted a sacrificial crop of tender zuchini. I was hoping they would go after those, and leave the bristly squash vines alone. I heard this trick from one of my neighbors who has been gardening for over 50 years. He said “If you can’t beat ‘em, distract ‘em.” Well, it worked! By the end of the Summer, the zuchini vines were emaciated and sickly with barely any fruit, and my squash plants looked pretty good! You learn some of the best tips and tricks from talking to your older neighbors! 

Inside the house during the Winter, I’ve found them on my pothos, which stretches across my dining room. I’ve seen evidence of their bites on other plants occasionally, too. This is a garden pest, for sure. I thought they were also called stink bugs, but after doing some research, I’ve come to realize that they are two distinct species. Their striking similarity leads me to believe they are somehow related.

squash bug and bottle cap

Pictured next to a bottle cap for size comparison. This bug doesn’t really have any natural predators where I live. My dog has leaned not to catch them, and my lizard won’t eat them because, like stink bugs, they release a foul scent when disturbed. This bug definitely resembled the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug… I’m beginning to wonder which one this is….

Have any of you ever seen these before? 

I just hope he doesn’t go near my baby tomato plants! They’re small and fragile! I’m officially on the squash bug war path. Any live ones I find are getting tossed out in the snow.

Consider yourselves warned, bugs.