Moths in Our Gardens: Squash Vine Borer

Squash Vine Borer
Adult squash vine borer.
Photo credit: David Moskowitz

As its name implies, the squash vine borer, Melitta curcurbitae, targets plants in the family Cucurbitaceae (pumpkin, summer squash, zucchini, etc.). It is a pest to both commercial agricultural operations and home gardeners.

What’s cool:
Squash vine borer moths have an impressive aposematic coloration; the adult moths resemble a wasp at first glance. The moths are fast-moving and perform evasive maneuvers when chased.  Also, contrary to their bold coloration, the adults can disappear quickly in dense foliage.

What’s not cool:
The adult female moths, which are about 12 mm in length, lay a single egg at the base of the plant where the main stem meets the soil. The larva then enters the main stem of the plant, moving directly up the center of the stem and, consequently, blocking water movement within the plant. A quick indicator that you have squash vine borer larvae infesting your garden is visible wilting or death of entire cucurbit plants.

Check out this awesome website with more info about the squash vine borer.
*Please use caution if you pursue any insecticidal treatments for this insect pest.


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