Kill Those Stinking Squash Bugs!

May 31, 2011 | By | Comments (86)


There’s nothing better than harvesting fresh vegetables from your own garden. And there’s nothing more infuriating than never getting to harvest any vegetables because some low-down, mean, contemptible, savage, un-Christian, good-for-nothing bug or critter beat you to it!

With that thought in mind, here’s an urgent dispatch from Dolly.

“Do you know of any method to control/eradicate squash bugs? These things are uncontrollable.”

Well, gosh, Dolly, if that were true, there’d be no reason to email the Grump. Fortunately, squash bugs can be controlled if you’ll follow his expert and brilliant advice.

Clean Up the Garden

Squash bug The key to controlling squash bugs is to interrupt their life cycle, because there is only one generation per year. Adult females overwinter in plant debris, then emerge in spring to lay clusters of reddish brown eggs on the undersides of squash, cucumber, melon, gourd, and pumpkin leaves. You can reduce their numbers by removing all vines, leaves, and other plant debris from the soil surface in late fall and destroying it. Burn it if would make you feel better. (Immolating loathsome pests always makes Grumpy feel better.) Not planting squash in the same spot every year also helps. Squash bugs, which are closely related to stink bugs, suck the plant’s juices, causing leaf spots that start off yellow and then turn brown. Infested plants weaken and die.

Plant Resistant Varieties

Some squash types are resistant to squash bugs, including ‘Butternut,’ ‘Early Summer Crookneck,’ ‘Improved Green Hubbard,’ and ‘Royal Acorn.’ If you plant non-resistant types, check the leaf undersides frequently for eggs clusters and destroy the infested leaves.

Spray with Neem

Neem oil, a natural pesticide, has been shown to effectively control squash bugs. Spray it on all leaf and stem surfaces according to label directions. You can get this at many garden centers or order it from

Of Course, You Could Always……

……squash them. But remember they’re kin to stink bugs. Squashed squash bugs smell awful.


Thanx to Jeff Moser for the bug pic.


  1. Nancy

    I learned to use masking tape to lift the eggs off the leaves. Works, and is kinda fun for a picker such as myself!

    June 11, 2016 at 7:23 am
  2. Mary Hixson

    I’ve lost my recipe using vinegar and sorghum in water to attract them to a container beside each plant. Fills up with adults.

    May 7, 2016 at 12:05 pm
  3. Steve Bender


    Excellent news! How much of each did you use?

    July 29, 2015 at 2:30 pm
  4. Pat Hill

    I just sprayed with apple cider vinegar mixed with dawn dish soap and water and it killed them.

    July 28, 2015 at 3:13 pm
  5. Steve Bender

    Mary Alice,

    Try spraying the watermelon foliage according to label directions with neem oil or horticultural oil. Both are safe to use. be sure to spray the undersides of the leaves too.

    August 8, 2014 at 1:56 pm
  6. Donna

    I am trying apple cider vinegar with dishwashing detergent and water. I sprayed so I will know more tomorrow if it helped. Just noticed them today – DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!! How dare those things attack my beautiful garden!

    August 6, 2014 at 4:35 pm
  7. Mary Alice Corman

    I heard that Nasturstiums repel squash bugs–so I went out bought a pkg and planted all of it in various places–I have discovered cabbage moth caterpillars love to eat them! Sigh–a few plants remain in various stages of distress–no flowers yet. Squash bugs abound.
    NOW I have huge numbers of little black bugs, some with wings on the underside of my watermelon plants — dwarfing and deforming the leaves.

    August 4, 2014 at 9:50 pm
  8. June

    Sounds good, but didn’t the shop vac suck up your vines?

    July 23, 2014 at 11:42 pm
  9. Jer

    I found hundreds of Squash Bugs and an equally large number of eggs in my squash patch, which contains Butternut, Acorn, and Pumpkin. They seemed to gravitate towards the Acorn, not sure if thats what they prefer, or if its simply where the infestation originated.

    Flicking the bugs into soapy water was simply impossible for the amount of bugs I found, so instead I used a Shopvac. It was easier to get the bugs on the ground, completely organic and much, much quicker.

    July 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm
  10. Steve Bender

    Good suggestion, John!

    June 30, 2014 at 2:13 pm
  11. Steve Bender


    Any kind of liquid detergent is OK, even the store brands.

    June 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm
  12. John

    If you don’t have too many squash plants – I have just one, an Argonaut from Gurney’s – try growing your squash vertical. Started mine inside a tomato cage that it quickly grew out of the top of but now it’s crawling along the fence out back. It looks very happy! Since it’s so high and off the ground? Spotting the squash bugs and their eggs is fairly easy. I keep a tin can of water with a bit of Dawn in it near the plant and simply pluck em’ and drown em’ Smash or do the same with the eggs which are fairly easily visible on the underside of the leaves if you crouch down a bit and looks for the characteristic dark tint to the leaves caused by the eggs when viewing underneath. I’m determined to beat the squash bugs this season!

    June 28, 2014 at 6:00 pm
  13. Patty

    Is Dawn dish soap the only soap that works?

    June 24, 2014 at 2:45 pm
  14. Steve Bender


    The liquid detergent should kill the eggs too by smothering them.

    June 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm
  15. Steve Burton

    I use Dawn liquid dishwashing soap and water to kill the adults. One quarter cup of Dawn to a half gallon of water. The adults die in less than a minute after being sprayed. When I find the eggs I spray them also. I am not sure if spraying the eggs does any good. Not sure if the solution is getting inside the egg casing. Does anyone know?

    June 17, 2014 at 11:30 am
  16. Home Grown Gardens » All Natural Bug Control
    June 1, 2014 at 9:12 pm
  17. June

    Thanks for the suggestion, but there is just no way I’m getting up at sun up 🙂

    April 30, 2013 at 5:14 pm
  18. Mi9ke

    Lay down some flat boards around your squash plants. Early in the morning around sun up, go out and flip the boards over and WOW! look at all the squash bugs. And they thought they were safe..HaHa

    April 30, 2013 at 2:21 pm
  19. Steve Bender

    Good luck, Becky!

    April 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm
  20. Becky Long

    I keep reading that these bugs only have one generation per year and I just figured it was northern writers. Here in north Georgia, I have squash bugs all summer and into the fall, constantly laying eggs and sucking the life out of my squash. I plant in succession and cut off the flowers after a few fruits set so those mature an then I get a crop off the next one planted. It has been the only way I can outrun the bugs. Usually I give up in disgust by August. I will try Neem this year because I’ve never used it on squash. I’m also trying a row under cover this year, though I will have to hand pollinate.

    April 29, 2013 at 11:12 am
  21. Steve Bender

    Good tips, Jillian! Thanks!

    April 1, 2013 at 10:28 am
  22. jillian gunnels

    Personally I am a HUGE fan of neem oil. This oil STINKS, but not as bad as the squash bugs after you kill them AND it takes care of not only squash bugs, but lots of other unwanted critters such as spider mites, whiteflies, etc. I spray it on my indoor household plants too and not only does it kill of the critters mentioned above, but it shoos away the cats from eating my plant leaves! cats can’t stand the smell either. Oregano oil is another good choice too. I personally am planting oregano in between all my squash plants this year, and keeping my neem oil mix with distilled water in a big spray bottle. TIP: keep all essential oils stored in a cool dry place to keep them effective as long as possible. I learned a lesson… summer i hung my spray bottles of oils mix with water on the fence to have them handy, but this made the spray ineffective quickly. The sun here in NM fried that stuff up quick!

    March 28, 2013 at 12:12 pm
  23. Steve Bender

    Thanks for the tip!

    December 4, 2012 at 3:04 pm
  24. Josh

    I found a company in the Raleigh/Durham NC area the uses organic solutions to treat pests like these, hope this helps.

    Triangle Pest Control

    December 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm
  25. Steve Bender

    Your suggestion really sucks! Good work!

    August 27, 2012 at 9:41 am
  26. June Smith

    That sounds like it would really work, but I’m just not up for all that. I will surrender this year and resolve to be better prepared for next spring. This was the first time I’ve ever had a garden and I’ve harvested so much beautiful squash. It’s just a shame about all the pesky bugs. Thanks for the suggestion!

    August 21, 2012 at 11:42 pm
  27. shane

    One way to significantly reduce squash bug numbers once they have established a colony in your garden is to “shop vac” them away. Simply soak the area where the colony exist with water from your garden hose, and when the squash bugs come fleeing, take your shop vac to them as they hit dry land. Dispose vacuumed bugs in any manner that makes you feel better. I will add that it is best on a warm evening about an hour before dark. You will need to hover over the colony until it gets dark to catch some of the trailing bugs. It is actually quite fun and rewarding to suck them buggers right off the earth!

    August 21, 2012 at 11:06 pm
  28. June Smith

    Thanks for responding so quickly. I was afraid I’d have to just get rid of my plants altogether. I still get a few good squash from my 4 plants, but it is just not worth dealing with those critters. Thanks again. I will be taking your advice!

    August 21, 2012 at 11:02 am
  29. Steve Bender

    When plants get as infested as yours, there is no saving them. Rip them out, seal them inside a trash bag, and put them out with the trash. Next spring, use some of the preventive measures mentioned above to lessen the damage.

    August 20, 2012 at 12:26 pm
  30. June Smith

    What do you do when the squash bugs have completely taken over? There are simply too many eggs on most of my squash plants’ leaves to remove. I kill the bugs when I can get to them, but it has become overwhelming. I planted in late April and this is the second attack by the bugs since that time. I know the growing season is just about over. I will take your advice about cleaning out the garden as soon as summer is over or when the squash stops producing. By the way, I have used Seven liquid spray several times this summer, but it really hasn’t helped a great deal. Before that I tried using the dish detergent. . . that didn’t help at all. Thanks for any additional suggestions.

    August 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm
  31. Grumpy

    Sounds like a good strategy to me.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm
  32. Steve

    I have been cutting the egg clusters out off the leaf. It leaves a hole in the leaf but the remainder of the leaf stays healthy.

    August 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm
  33. Steve Bender

    Thanks for your suggestions, John.

    August 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm
  34. john shepard

    grow hebs in your garden like oregano in amongst your plants ..this totally purifies as well as flowers to attract bees

    August 1, 2012 at 9:29 am
  35. john shepard

    I use the dishwater in the morning after breakfast …they hate it as well as most bugs and the plants love the phosphorus in the soap…you need bugs in the garden so never use insecticide seven ..I used it once for slugs but its like Chernobyle out there now and Ille never use it again…plus the slug attack after a rain will always happen again ..dont mess with the ecosystem too much oat bran works fine for slugs..those sweet gentle giants

    August 1, 2012 at 9:20 am
  36. limestonecreek

    I am in constant battle with the squash bugs right now. I will have to try duck tape for the eggs. I am now considering using some flea shampoo diluted with water in a spray bottle since it is pyrethien based so I will have the soapy water effect plus pyrethien.

    July 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

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