Squash Pest

MotherHen68 from The Chicken Coop asked us:

Any suggestions on how to prevent my squash from getting those nasty green worms that demolish the entire plant? I’m guessing these are squash vine borers and the offending egg layer is a brown moth. I’d rather not use poison, but I’m fed up. Thanks! 

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It sounds like you don’t have squash vine borers, which is actually a really good thing because they can be very tough to control. Squash vine borers chew their way into the base of the plant and kill it by basically cutting off the supply line from the roots to the stems and leaves. The result is wilting and death of the plant. The moth that lays the eggs is actually black and orange-red (looking more like a wasp than a moth) and the larvae that burrow into the stem are white and resemble maggots (ewwwww).
What it sounds like you have may be armyworms or some other type of caterpillar. My recommendation is first to use row covers over your squash when you plant them and leave the covers on until they start to flower. When you remove your row covers just keep an eye out for these pests. If you start to see them you can hand pick them. If the population gets to be too much, you can spray the plants with Bt, which you can find at nearly any plant nursery. Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, is a bacteria found naturally in soil that produces a toxin that is fatal to soft bodied insects usch as caterpillars. It is safe around all other animals, including humans and breaks down rather rapidly once applied. 
Also practice crop rotation and companion plantings to deter these pests. 
Good luck and I hope next year you get a bumper crop!

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