QUESTION: My squash plants are starting to wilt. What’s wrong with my squash? How can I save them? -Kelly W
ANSWER: There are several pests and problems that could be contributing to your squash plant problem. Here are several common squash problems to consider.
One of the biggest squash problems is the pest squash vine borer. The adult vine borer is a red and black flying moth that can be spotted flying from plant to plant, or vine to vine, during the day. The adult moths do create small holes on the leaves from feeding. But, the majority of the damage is done by the larvae, which feed inside of the plant’s main stem. Look for sawdust-like crumbles of waste dropping to the soil from a small hole at the base of the plant as the vine borer hollows out the main stem of the plant. In many cases this will eventually cause the plant to die.
To prevent squash vine borers, wrap the bottom of the main stem of each of your squash plants with aluminum foil or cover your squash plants with floating row covers until they begin to bloom. Other pests that are known to plague the squash plant are squash bugs, aphids, and mealybugs.
Another possible squash problem is a disease issue. Common diseases that affect the squash plant are powdery mildew, blossom end rot and bacterial wilt. Be sure to give plants plenty of space between each other and dry off wet foliage to avoid fungal infections like powdery mildew. To prevent blossom end rot, provide plenty and consistent amounts of water throughout the growing season. Bacterial wilt is spread by the cucumber beetle, which can be trapped on yellow sticky cards to protect your squash plants.
Other common issues with squash plants include poor pollination, which can be avoided by pollinating by hand when necessary, poor soil, lack of water, and not enough sun. Look for pest and disease resistant varieties when selecting a squash plant to help avoid common diseases and infestations.