In my last post I showed you my Cinderella pumpkin plant, and told you I had a problem with squash bugs. Here is the full story.

I went out to the garden, as is my wont, one morning a couple of weeks ago, after my walk. I went around, checking each of the beds and plants, making sure everything was getting watered, was weeded, etc. I didn’t even think to check anything for bugs, because, due to my extreme inexperience, I had never had the opportunity to deal with them.

I decided the pumpkin needed to be watered (it isn’t on the drip system) and I pulled over the hose to do so. I bent down and started watering it, and noticed a couple of very ugly bugs running away from the water.

A squash bug, plotting death to all cucurbits
courtesy Dave Govoni, via Flickr


I sprayed them to encourage them to leave, and then I thought to myself, “What if they laid eggs?” I knew that the eggs would probably be on the underside of the leaves. So I looked under a few of them and found two leaves with eggs, and a couple more squash bugs. This was a problem.

courtesy Robyn Anderson, via Flickr

Squash bug eggs
courtesy Robyn Anderson, via Flickr


I sat there in the garden, and thought about it for a minute. Then I went to the garage and retrieved a bucket, and filled it with water. I took the bucket over to the plant and pulled the two leaves off the plant and dropped them in the water, then looked around for any mature bugs I could find. I found three, and dropped each of them into the water. One of the bugs persistently swam to the side and began climbing up. After a couple of attempts to knock him back in, I put some oil in the bucket, thinking that would keep him down. It did not. He climbed up the side again. I decided at this point that he deserved a clean death, and squished him. I let the bucket sit in the hot sun all day to kill the eggs, then I dumped it in the compost pile.

The next morning I went out again, this time with my daughter, and we found three more mature bugs, and a couple more leaves with eggs. On one of the leaves, the eggs were hatching.

I had a better idea to destroy the bugs this time. I pulled off the infested leaves again, and picked up the bugs with a stick and fed them to my chickens.

Chickens, destroyers of squash bugs

My chickens, destroyers of squash bugs

Chickens love squash bugs.

I have been checking the pumpkin (and all my other plants too) for squash bugs every day, and have not seen any since the second day.

The only things I would do differently if I found them again would be to place the bugs and infested leaves into a bucket or other receptacle and carry them to the chickens, rather than trying to carry them perched on a stick, which was difficult.

If you have squash bugs and no chickens, you should place them in a bucket of soapy water (not oily, as I have learned) and squish the eggs.

Update: It would appear that the squash bugs did some damage to the pumpkin that was not immediately evident. This last weekend, after 2+ weeks bug free and green, with blossoms and everything, the pumpkin plant shrivelled and yellowed. The only thing that can be said of it currently is that it isn’t dead . . . yet.