If you enjoy growing vegetables – especially squash – then you probably already know that the Helmeted Squash beetle is one of the biggest nuisances to have in your garden!
These pests feed on your vegetables causing the plant to wilt and destroying your harvest.
If you think you have a Helmeted Squash beetle problem, then take a look at the article below, and find out how to identify Helmeted Squash beetles, why these pests are so problematic, and tips on how you can dispose of these pests and protect your vegetables.
What are Helmeted Squash Beetles and How Do You Identify These Pests?
The Helmeted Squash beetle is an insect that feeds mostly on squash, pumpkin, and other vegetables in the cucurbits family such as cucumbers.
You can spot a Helmeted Squash beetle by examining the pest’s body and looking for these common characteristics. The Squash beetle is grey to brownish color in appearance with tan patches on its back.
What Do Helmeted Squash Beetles Look Like?
These insects are usually half an inch in size and their bodies have an oval-like shape at the back with a more triangular-shaped head.
They have small wings which fold into the back of the beetle and very thin stick-like legs. It can be easy to confuse these pests with other similar-looking insects such as the stink bug.
One way you can differentiate between the two types of bugs is by looking at the shape of their bodies. A stink bug has a wider and more circular-shaped body while the Squash bug has a more narrow shape.
The Damage Helmeted Squash Bugs Cause To Your Plants
If you don’t seem to find any Squash bugs in action then look for the damage that is caused by these pests. As previously mentioned these pests like to feed on vegetables such as different types of squashes, cucumbers, and pumpkins.
So, If you notice your vegetables looking a bit discolored and shriveled up, this could mean that you have a Helmeted Squash bug infestation.
What these insects do is stick their long needle-like mouthpiece into your vegetable and suck the sap out of them. This is why your vegetables may look shriveled up when under attack by these pests.
These pests can be extremely problematic when you have young plants, as younger plants struggle to withstand the destruction of the Squash bugs feeding, and die easier than adults.
Another issue that comes with Helmeted Squash bugs is that when they feed, they will release their saliva into the plant or vegetable. Their saliva has certain bacteria in it which can be extremely toxic for your plants and tends to cause even more damage.
These pests are most active during the day so keep an eye open for them when you are tending to your plants.
The Life Cycle of a Helmeted Squash Bug
The Helmeted Squash bug will usually lay its eggs on the underside of your plant’s leaves. For this reason, make sure you search your plant thoroughly, turning over each leaf to check for eggs.
Some squash bugs may also lay their egg on the stem of the plant. These eggs are very small round balls that are brown to red in color and can be found in clusters.
In the USA these eggs are usually laid from April to May and once an egg has been laid it takes about 5-10 days for them to hatch.
Therefore if you have a Helmeted Squash bug infestation, it is very important that you check for eggs and dispose of them at least once a week. Once the eggs have hatched, it takes about 6-8 weeks for the pest to reach maturity.
How To Get Rid of and Control Helmeted Squash Bugs
There are a few effective methods you can use to dispose of and control your Helmeted Squash bug problem. The first is to make sure your garden area around your vegetables is neat.
Always remove the debris from plants such as leftover vines and leaves. It is also a good idea to weed your garden regularly. Taking away the insects hiding spots will make them easier to dispose of.
Making a trap for the pest is also a great idea.
Use wooden boards and cardboard for this and place them at the bottom of all your infested plants.
The insects will gather under the cardboard and wood during the night making it easier for you to catch them as you can turn the wood and cardboard over in the morning and simply handpick the bugs out of your garden.
Once you have trapped these pests, pick them off and throw them into a bucket of soap and water. This will kill the pests making sure they do not return to your garden. You can also spray your plants with soapy water to dispose of the pests.
When it comes to the eggs, a great method to get rid of them is to either squash them with your fingers or place tape on your fingers and remove them with the tape.
You can also use an insecticide to eradicate these pests. A Pyrethrin Sulpher mix or Permethrin insecticide works best.
You can buy these at a local garden depot. Make sure when using these insecticides that you spray your plants in the early morning or late afternoon.
This will allow the insecticide enough time to set and dry before the Squash bugs feed.