What’s that on my cucurbit?

As noted by Sally Miller last week, bacterial wilt and yellow vine decline are being found in cucurbit fields across the state. There are two primary insects responsible for these outbreaks, the Striped cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittatum) and squash bug (Anasa tristis). I was just scouting some of my pumpkins this past week and counted 20 beetles in one flower! But sometimes looks can be deceiving as we can encounter as many as 4 different types of beetles in our cucurbit fields. It’s important to know what’s in your cucurbit since it could be the difference between making an insecticide application (or not). Below, I have included an image of different beetle species you may encounter in your cucurbit fields. As a reminder, we generally want to make an insecticide application when the striped cucumber beetle density exceeds 1 beetle/plant in a field. If you want information about specific products, check out my former post here.

Squash bugs are arguably easier to scout for since there aren’t many other insects that resemble them. However, we need to keep track of different squash bug life stages (shown below). Squash bug eggs are fairly diagnostic with a bright amber coloring. They are typically found along the midribs on the undersides of leaves. Those egg masses eventually give rise to nymphs which are powdery blue. Adults have a flattened appearance and are typically brown with alternating white and orange spots along their abdomen. Insecticide applications are warranted when squash bugs exceed a cumulative threshold of 1 egg mass, nymph or adult bug/ plant in a field.

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