Jennifer,I have dealt with squash bugs for several years. Some years are just worse than others. They overwinter as adults, then in the spring and early summer they find your squash plants, start feeding, and laying eggs.I have had decent luck with handpicking the bugs. It is best to get them early before they start laying eggs. What I do when I go out to water is shower the whole zucchini/squash plant with a spray of water. This startles the bugs a bit and gets them moving, which makes them easier to spot. The cold water slows them down a bit too. I just pick them up and crush them right behind the head with my fingernails. They can release a stink, so I keep the back end pointed away from me and rinse my hands as I go. If this grosses you out, you could just stick them in a jar of soapy water and they will drown. The nymphs (juveniles) are a lighter gray color, and are easier to smush because they are soft bodied.Chances are you won't get them all so look for eggs on your plants also. These are usually laid in clusters, they are small, bronze colored, and oblong shaped similar to a rugby ball. They are usually laid on the undersides of the leaves but occasionally other places as well. What I do is use my thumbnail to scrape the eggs off of the plants, then crush them or just toss them off in the yard where I know the hatching nymphs won't be able to find food. Be carfeul when scraping the eggs off to not damage the plant. This is usually possible depending on how well the eggs were cemented to the plants by the mother bug.If the problem gets too far ahead of you, or you have too many plants for hand picking the bugs and eggs, your only option may be to spray insecticide or lose your plants. Unfortunately, I have found that insectides do a poor job of controlling the bugs unless you spray repeatedly, which I don't like to do. The insecticide kills the existing adults and nymphs, but as soon as it wears off new eggs hatch or more adults show up and lay more eggs.Good luck with your garden snd the squash bugs! If you have any advice on dealing with the squash vine borer, that is my nemesis here. They are murder on any hollow stemmed squash plants and sometimes wipe out my zucchini too.
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