Prevent Squash Vine Borer Effectively & Organically

2 comments by Halley -Author at MIGardener

 How to Prevent The Dreaded Squash Vine Borer 

As summer approaches, and our warm weather crops are coming in, we all looking forward to the beautiful zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, and pumpkins! But there is one enemy of all gardeners, and that is the squash vine borer. It will kill a completely healthy plant, and stop your garden fun right in its tracks. Hopefully this post will help you out in staying squash bug free!
 What does a "Squash Vine Borer" look like? 
The adult Melitta curcurbitae (squash vine beetle) is a moth, that is black in color with a reddish-orange abdomen. commonly seen flying around summer squash, winter squash, and pumpkins. The grub on the other hand is white in color, and is found in the stem of the squash plant only once the squash has been affected. 

                                     Adult Squash Moth                                       Squash Vine Borer Larva 

squash-vine-borers                            squash-vine-borers


squash vine borer eggs

 How To Prevent The Squash Vine Borer:

Option 1 - Remove Eggs
Removing eggs will prevent the life cycle of the moth, and since the adult does no damage to the plant at all, the focus should  be on the squash vine borer larva. Eggs will be deposited on the undersides of the leaves, checking frequently is effective, but with many leaves often times a few are missed. Check once weekly in the months of July and August.
Option 2 - Scent Masking
This Method of control is HIGHLY effective when used correctly. The only way a squash moth can find a squash plant is by the smell. When a plant is distressed, it releases a chemical scent. This can be from pest damage, lack of water, or even lack of nutrients. Not every plant can be 100% healthy, and it only takes one plant to spoil it for the rest. 

 How to scent mask: 
Interplanting: Planting squash  plants with many fragrant plants such as onions, mint, basil, parsley, or other fragrant flowers or herbs will mask the scent of the squash.
Oil Masking: A much more intense method of masking, but highly effective. Take a very strong essential oil, I use peppermint oil, and dab 3 Q-tips into the oil. I poke the Q-tips in the ground with the scented end facing UP. I place the Q-tips in a triangle pattern around the base of the plant about 2 inches out. TIP: Try our NEW Squash Vine Borer Be Gone Concentrate. It  works the same way only even better!

                    Essential Oil                                         Q-tips                        Diagram (center dot is Squash Plant)
Peppermint Essential Oil    Q-tip       3 dot triangle
 Signs of Squash Vine Borer damage: 
Squash vine borer damage is incurable about 90% of the time. On rare occasions the plant will survive, but almost always it will be the end of the plant. Here are some very common signs of squash vine borer.

  • Healthy plant turning to a wilted plant in a matter if a few days, won't recover after watering
  • Fruit turns hard and small
  • stunted plant
  • Yellow holes or foam near the base                Permanently wilted plant                                     Yellow holes from larva exit

squash-vine-borer-damage                     Squash vine borer hole




  • Mary Lou

    I am essential oil masking to help my squash plants survive. Will pollinators also be masked? Wonderful idea. Thank you.

  • Kristina M Brazeal

    If you cut a slit open where you see the yellow “sawdust” on the stem (indicating a larval stage Vine borer has bored into the squash), you can often find the grub. Pull it out, kill it, then bury the damaged part of the stem in the dirt. I have saved many plants this way that went on to harvest well. It’s the squash bugs I can’t seem to defeat. 😂

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