Have you identified yellow or brown spots on your tomato plants? Check around, especially underneath the leaves, and you’ll find clusters of gray insects. These are squash bugs. Although they aren’t disease carriers, they’re a great risk to your tomatoes if not controlled.
So, how do you get rid of squash bugs on tomato plants?
You get rid of squash bugs on tomatoes by spraying relevant insecticides or through natural control methods. The natural option is ideal and eco-friendly. Simply drop the insects into a soapy water container and drown them. If the affected plants are many, spray them using organic insecticidal soap.
This article provides insight on identifying the insect, its effect on plants, and how to control them in your tomato garden.
Also Check: Growing Tomatoes In Rain Gutters
Identifying Squash Bugs On Tomato Plants
Squash bugs have a dark gray to dark brown color. They’ve an edged abdomen protruding beyond their wings. Additionally, squash bugs have alternating brown and orange-like stripes on the edges and the underside.
Mostly, you’ll find these insects walking around on your tomato plants, but they can fly. They also hide near the plant crown or underneath damaged leaves. During winter, you’ll likely find squash bugs on vines, under boards, dead leaves, or on buildings.
Squash bug nymphs or young squash bugs have a lighter color and black legs. Typically, you find them in clusters of twenty on the plant leaves underside and move quickly upon any disturbance.
What Damage Is Caused By Squash Bugs On Tomato Plants?
The damage caused by squash bugs on the tomato plants is similar to the bacterial wilt. These insects instill toxins into the tomato plants and use their sharp, sucking mouthparts to sip the sap out of the plant leaves. As a result, yellow spots develop on the leaves, and the areas turn brown with time.
The damage caused by these insects on your plants prevents nutrients from flowing to the leaves leading to wilting. How? The nutrient cut-off causes the leaves to dry, turning black, crunchy, and breakable. Moreover, the leaves can sometimes have tattered holes.
Furthermore, squash bugs can destroy young fruits and kill small plants.
How Do I Get Rid Of Squash Bugs On My Tomatoes?
You get rid of squash bugs on your tomatoes by applying the tips below.
- Eggs Scrap off: Check for squash bug eggs weekly and scrap them off the plants. The insects lay their eggs in groups of about twenty eggs on the leaves’ underside, and they are usually harsh after 10 days.
- Early detection: Walk around your tomato garden and be keen enough to spot squash bugs in their early stage of life. That lets you get rid of them before they become uncontrollable adults.
- Adult squash bugs flicking out: If you identify clustered adult squash bugs, pick them up and put them in a soapy water container. The water traps and kills the insects.
- Night trapping: Squash bugs like gathering underneath any present objects at night. Therefore, you can place a wooden board or a newspaper at night, and once they collect there, crush them between hard surfaces.
- Pesticide spraying: Spray your tomatoes during the egg and early stages of squash bugs. If they’re already adults, pesticides aren’t effective at all. Spraying early morning and late evening is advisable to avoid harming the bees.
- Daily check-up: Where only a few vines are affected, collect and destroy the bugs daily until you can’t find them anymore. Crush also their eggs clusters underneath the plant leaves.
- Debris removal: Ensure your garden is clean of all debris throughout the growing season to minimize squash bugs’ hiding areas.
- Beneficial insects attraction: Some insects play a significant role in controlling squash from your tomato garden. Attracting such insects is an effective natural control method as they feed on the squash bugs. The most known ones include tachinid flies and spiders. Planting low-herbs and flowering plants near your tomato plants can encourage them to stick around.
- Duct tape application: Using duct tape to eliminate squash bugs is simple but should be done consistently for 7 to 10 days. Enfold the tape around your hand with the sticky side facing out. Search for the squash bug’s egg clusters, young nymphs, and any adult on your tomatoes. Wrap the tape against them to collect them and dispose of them.
What Is The Best Way To Get Rid Of Squash Bugs?
The best way to get rid of squash bugs is using soapy water. This control method is straightforward, affordable, and, most importantly, environmentally friendly. Simply drop the insects into a soapy water container by hand, where they get stuck and eventually drown.
Be sure to drown the eggs too to wipe out the entire linage. Scrap them from the leaves’ underside, drop them into soapy water, or crush and dispose of them.
Squash bug control can sometimes become tedious. Hence, it’s good to identify potential causes as well as the preventive measures you can put in place.
What Causes Squash Bugs On Tomato Plants?
Warm climatic condition is what cause squash bugs on tomatoes plant. During winter, adult squash bugs take refuge under garden debris such as vines, dead leaves, and rocks. Upon the ‘arrival’ of the spring season, the temperatures rise, enhancing an ideal atmosphere for squash bugs’ emergence. They fly to the garden for feeding and mating purposes.
The female squash bugs soon start laying eggs until mid-summer. You’ll find small brown egg clusters deposited beneath the leaves. It only takes about 1-2 weeks for them to harsh, and nymphs immediately disperse to feed. The young bugs go through five growth stages to mature within six weeks, and there’s usually one generation each year.
How Can You Prevent Squash Bugs?
There are several ways in which you can prevent squash. After knowing what causes squash bugs, you can lay down preventive measures to keep them off your tomato garden. Here are some of the most popular tactics.
- Eliminate over-wintering shelters: Burn or compost any old vines and dead leaves before winter begins. That lets you get rid of any probable over-wintering shelters.
- Avoid thick-layered mulch: Thick mulches are potential breeding sites for squash bugs. Doing away with such keeps the insects away.
- Cover your tomatoes: Use a floating row cover material. It allows light, air, and water penetration but prevents the squash bugs from accessing your tomatoes. Remember to uncover them once they start blossoming.
- Planting timing: You can time your planting so that your plants are covered the entire duration when squash bags are laying their eggs. Since there’s only one generation per year, you can avoid the insects by covering your plants in the spring season’s first month. Alternatively, you can plant your tomatoes at the beginning of summer.
- Plant squash bug repellant: Plant companion plants around your tomato plants. These plants produce aromatic spices and odor that repel the squash bugs.
Are Squash Bugs The Same As Stink Bugs?
No, squash bugs aren’t the same as stink bugs. When disturbed, the latter produces a smell and is rounder and broader than the former. However, you can mistake them for each other because they’ve similar shapes and produce an unpleasant odor if your crush them.
Will Dawn Dish Soap Kill Squash Bugs?
Yes, Dawn dish soap will kill squash bugs. To make the best out of this squash bug control, mix it with water and drown the insects after flicking them off the plants. Spraying it on your tomato plants harms them.
Which Is The Best squash bug Spray For Tomato Plants?
The best squash bug spray for tomato plants is hydrogen peroxide solution. This effective homemade tomato control plan requires you to mix hydrogen peroxide, water, and sugar. How? Add 10 ounces of hydrogen peroxide and 10 ounces of sugar to 1 gallon of water. Mix them thoroughly and spray your plants.
Do Coffee Grounds Repel Squash Bugs?
Yes, coffee grounds repel squash bugs. It’s a straightforward DIY organic squash bug control tactic. All you need to do is boil the coffee grounds in water, allow the solution to cool, and spray it on your affected tomato plants.
Does Neem Oil Get Rid Of Squash Bugs?
Yes, neem oil does get rid of squash bugs. It’s a natural pesticide you can use to control squash bugs effectively. Its application requires you to spray it on leaves and stems as directed by the manufacturer.
Squash bugs on tomato plants can be very destructive. Therefore, eliminating them as quickly as possible is vital.
You can get rid of these insects by scrapping off their eggs and crushing them before harshing, identifying them early and destroying them before maturity, and trapping them at night once they collect together. Keeping your garden without any debris is also another remedy.
Nonetheless, prevention is always the better option! You keep the squash bugs away by getting rid of the over-wintering shelters, avoiding thick layers of mulch in your garden, and planting squash bug repellant plants. Also, you can cover your tomatoes during the harshing periods or plant your crops off those periods.