What’s Eating My Garden?

— Written By and last updated by
en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲

This article was originally written by Minda Daughtry, past Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center.

My squash plants are wilting like they don’t have enough water. When I look there are big grey bugs on the leaves and reddish eggs in interesting patterns on the undersides of the leaves.

Squash bugs are sometimes mistaken for stinkbugs. While they do look similar and also give off a disgusting odor when crushed or disturbed, squash bugs only eat plants of the cucurbits, preferring squash and pumpkin. Eggs of the squash bug are laid on the underside of leaves in the midsummer. They are orange-brown in color, and they normally lay the eggs in a V pattern and take 1-2 weeks to hatch.

Before you notice any major damage in your vine plants, you might notice small yellow specks on the leaves that will then change to brown. This is caused by the squash bug sucking out all the vital nutrients from the plant leaves, leaving the plant to slowly starve. Speckled leaves will eventually, if left untreated, wilt and then turn black and dry out. If you have a small plant and the damage has progressed to the wilting stage, it may not recover. If it is a larger plant, they can handle more pressure and may survive with many affected leaves.

The effects of squash bugs can closely resemble the affects of bacteria wilt, which is spread by the striped cucumber beetle. Bacteria wilt is disastrous for your plants, and there is no cure once your plant is infected. Proper identification of the bug before treatment is crucial for knowing which problem you have.

7 Tips for Eliminating and Controlling Squash Bugs

  1. Early detection of squash bugs is the most effective way to manage a squash bug problem. As leaves begin to wilt, check for squash bugs and eggs underneath the leaves. It is easier to kill eggs and young squash bugs because of the tendency of adults to hide.
  2. Individually collect and kill the squash bugs and their eggs and destroy them if there is only a small number.
  3. Put down a board or some shingles around the plant for large numbers of squash bugs. The squash bugs will gather under the boards at night for shelter. Using this method, a large number of squash bugs can be killed every morning until the problem is under control. Be sure to clear away any other pieces of debris where the squash bugs might hide.
  4. Use an insecticide along with the above method to ensure a result. Make sure, if you are spraying during blooming, to spray in the early morning or evening so the insecticide does not affect honeybees or other pollinators. Malathion is registered for use, follow the label directions.
  5. Keep vines covered until blossoming begins – an easy way to prevent these harmful pests. Since there is only one generation of squash bugs per year, the damage can be incredibly reduced.
  6. Dispose of all debris and extra leaves over the winter months. This gets rid of any spaces where the squash bug can be protected and stay alive throughout the winter. You can either burn plant debris or mix remnants into the soil.
  7. Buy varieties of pumpkin and squash that are resistant to squash bugs. This is an easy solution and relieves the worry and burden on home gardeners.

Amanda Bratcher is Horticulture Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Lee County.