Performing Squash Surgery to Kill the Squash Vine Borer

Yesterday I found yellow leaves on my yellow crookneck squash. I quickly pulled the leaves off and noticed a bunch of gooey frass near the nodes.

It had just rained and mosquitoes were everywhere so I quickly ran into the house, but I didn't forget about the squash. I consulted with Dr Google and found out my plants were infested with the squash vine borer. They needed surgery stat!

I dreamed about it all night long. 

In the morning I got all my gear ready and headed out to perform the operation. The surgery was both easy and complicated. It was easy enough to cut through the stem, find the maggot and skewer it. But it was much harder to work around the existing leaves, fruit and other plants than I expected.  

It was extremely difficult to try to take pictures of the action since I was holding back leaves cutting and welding a camera. Not a good mix, so the pictures are not great. Here we go.

First off the victim.

This is my yellow crookneck squash. 

There were three vines that were infested. Here's a look at one of the vines - pre-surgery.

This is one post-surgery.
Notice all the goopy cream colored frass? That is worm poop. Maggot poop actually. 

I cut through the stem (lengthwise only,) peeled it open, and stabbed the maggot with a knife.
 Here he is in all his juicyness:
Notice the creamy body and brown tipped face. That's a squash borer larva. After you kill the larva, its time to close the wound back up. I had intended to tape it closed to try and give it the best opportunity to regrow. Then I realized the maggot had eaten through all the inter layer so there was nothing to reseal.

I hope what was left was enough to keep the plant hydrated and connected to the roots. Just in case, I buried the stems in the garden soil so it's back up plan can be sending down new roots. Before I buried them, I covered the stems with diatomaceous earth. I'm hoping the DE will kill any remaining larva and protect the plant from slug attack at a time when it is trying to heal. 

I will update on the survival of this plant. There are squash still forming and ripening, so I hope this surgery saved the plant! 

According to Dr. Google, the squash vine borer adults is done laying eggs by the 4th of July, so there shouldn't be any new attacks going forward. 


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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!

Angela

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