The pumpkins are dying. These sqaush vine borers are attacking the stalks of my pumpkins plants and are causing them to wilt and die. I planted six hills of seeds - three seeds per hill. I think 12 or 13 plants started and now there are just seven left. Last Wednesday Megan (from the CSA down the street - and from NWAEG) pulled up one of the dead stalks and split it open with her fingers. We found a little worm with a dark head borrowed deep inside of the stalk.
It is very sad to see something with a 120 day life die at just 60 days old. I see one tiny pumpkins starting, but now I wonder if any will survive these bugs.
Megan directed me to the Ohio State University extension page on these bugs:
Attack by squash vine borer is characterized by sudden wilt of the plant. Larvae bore within stems, usually in the lower one meter (three feet) of the stem. Stems can be girdled by borers, which prevents water and nutrients from circulating in the plant. The point where a borer enters a stem is marked by a hole with yellow granular or sawdust-like frass exuding from it. Injured vines often decay and become wet and shiny. Infested plants may be weakened or they can die; the ultimate effect on the plant depends on the number of borers and their location. Over 100 larvae have been found in a single plant.
The following are suitable in small plantings:
- Borers can be removed from vines if detected before much damage is done. Examine stems in early summer; once holes are detected, slit the stem longitudinally with a fine sharp knife, remove the borer, then cover the wounded stem with moist soil above the point of injury to promote additional root formation.
- Stems can be covered with a barrier, such as strips of nylon stockings, to prevent egg laying.
- Catch and destroy the moths, especially at twilight or in early morning when they are resting on the upper side of leaf bases.
- Hand-pick the eggs before they hatch.
I went out this afternoon between projects and sliced open two of the stalks and dug out the worms. I burried the plants with soil and hope that the worms can't get back in. Tomorrow I will try to water all of them to make sure they don't get dehydrated with all of this burrowing.
In other news the watermelons are booming and the tomato plants are looking shrub like. I should have watermelons in September and the tomatoes should get red in about three weeks.
My neighbor Melissa blogged about her garden here: