At the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry garden where I volunteer, squash bug eggs have shown up on some of the squash plants. The eggs stick very tightly to the leaves, making them difficult to remove by hand. Duct tape, though, can help with egg removal.
Why are squash bugs “bad”?
Squash bugs aren’t essentially bad, but their activity on our plants can have a bad result. North Carolina State University’s Extension tells us that squash bugs suck the sap out of our squash plants.
Even if the plants don’t die directly as a result of this feeding activity, it can weaken them. The result is that they can make fewer squashes and become wilted. Neither of those outcomes is good. Getting rid of the eggs can slow the infestation down.
How to use tape to remove squash bug eggs from leaves
First, identify the clusters of eggs.
What the eggs look like
Squash bug eggs are pretty distinctive. They are shiny, hard, bronze-colored, and appear in clusters on the leaves of squash plants. Sometimes, they are on the stems, too, but this is less common.
Why remove the eggs, rather than smash them where they are? These particular insect eggs are difficult to smash without damaging the leaves. Removing the eggs completely from the plant is the best hope for keeping the numbers of hatching eggs to a minimum.
Duct tape egg removal technique
Actually, the blue painters tape works, too, if you don’t have duct tape. It is likely that clear package-sealing tape would also work, but I haven’t tried it.
Just press the sticky side of a short section of tape to the squash bug eggs, then peel it away from the leaf. Most of the eggs will be stuck to the tape.
You may need to press a fresh section of the tape to the eggs a second time to get them all, but the tape works. With little effort on your part, the eggs will be gone from the leaves.
Now, of course, those shiny eggs are on the tape. When your piece of tape is “full”, fold it over and smash the eggs as well as you can, before putting the tape into a trash bin.
Duct tape can lift away other pests, too
You may have noticed that there are some yellow fuzzy things on the tape pictured above, along with the squash bug eggs. Those fuzzy things are the larvae (babies) of squash beetles.
Normally, I just smash those beetle larvae with my fingers, but I already had the tape in hand. Picking the larvae up with the tape was convenient, easy, and less icky than my usual method.
You can read about squash beetles and the damage they can inflict on your squash patch in my 2018 article about those particular pests. Older articles, from 2015 and 2012 confirm that this is not a new pest for my area.
Upbeat pictures, to end a “pest post”
After thinking about pests for awhile, it is good to switch over to thinking about more of the positive parts of gardening and being out of doors. These pictures might help: