Attention! Our garden is under attack! While wandering through the garden one day, I noticed that the leaves and stems of our cucurbit plants were damaged. Upon closer inspection it looked as if they were being chewed on and were seriously damaging the growth of the plants. I noticed a small lady bug-like insect on one of the plants and also a small yellow spiny insect as well. I could not figure what they were because I have never seen them before.
After a little research, I found that they are a part of the Lady Beetle family, and are called Squash Lady Beetle’s (Epilachna borealis.) Unlike their siblings, the Squash Lady Beetle feeds on cucurbit crops instead of pests. They use their mouths to bore into stems to consume the liquids found inside. The larvae are a bright yellow color and have black spines on them. The larvae feed on the leaves of the plants. They show up in the mid-summer to reek havoc. In large enough numbers, this bug can seriously damage your summer crop. They are one of the largest Lady Beetles in Eastern North America where they originate. Keep a mindful eye on your summer cucurbits for these little insects. Below are pictures of the pests in our garden.
But how do I get rid of them? There are many options to remove the bugs from your garden. Some ways include rotating your crops each year, removing plant litter (because that is where they live in the winter,) scraping away the eggs from beneath the leaves, or making an organic insecticide. A recommendation from a professor at North Dakota State University is to use garlic, onions, one spicy pepper like jalapeno or habanero, water and a little dish soap in a sprayer and coat the leaves when you see the insects.