Combating Squash Vine Borer Without Pesticides

Cover the stem with soil and the plant will send down a new root system.

Cover the stem with soil and the plant will send down a new root system.  (Please ignore the weeds.  The tall pale green plants are dill which I’ve let grow for the Swallowtail butterflies)

Believe me, I’ve tied all the remedies (except chemicals) to combat this pest:  the pantyhose sleeve, the tinfoil barrier, self pollinating plants under a row cover… I’ve probed the hole with a paper clip to kill the larvae.  Nothing really worked.  Last summer I realized my squash was sending down roots along the stems.  Once the borer got in and the plant was dying, I covered the dying stem with soil and kept it watered well.  The plant revived.  This summer I have again had success with this strategy and new squash have begun to grow,  I think the season for the squash vine borer, a type of sesiid moth (Melittia cucurbitae) is over, so maybe I’ll have squash until fall.  I do need more as I haven’t had a chance to make my hot dog pickle relish yet!


3 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jessica said,

    I tried most of those methods, too, Kathy. I even went so far as to order beneficial nematodes and inject them into the plant stem, with the understanding that the nematodes would attack the borer larva. I finally gave up on growing squash in my little garden.

    Question…are you covering up the stems of the mother plant or the stem beyond where the larva was (or was that too wilted to salvage?) or both?

    How ’bout the recipe for that hot dog relish??? LOL

    Love your blog,



  2. 2

    Thanks, Jess! I started covering the stem as soon as it touched the ground. In the beginning it grows upwards, but as it ages the stem begins to grow along the ground. I started as soon as it did that with the knowledge of the inevitability of the borers coming in, so I was forearmed.


    • 3

      Jessica said,

      Thanks for the info, Kathy. I might give it a try, again. IIRC, I had pretty good luck with Patty Pan squash…more of a zucchini-like bush than a running vine. Yummy and workable in a small garden, like mine.



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