Got Squash Bugs? Use Trap Crops!

Ugh, here we go again. Those nasty squash bugs are back! I really wanted to grow zucchini and yellow crookneck. Why waste my time! I hear this over and over again.

Now, there is a solution. Trap Crops!

  • Plants that are planted next to a squash crop to attract pests as either a food source (pollen/nectar) or an egg/larval site.
  • Attract pests to the border areas, where they can be killed. Pests on the unsprayed crop will be reduced.
  • Exploiting the squash bugs special appetite.
  • Intercepting the pest from the edges.
  • Check trap crop three (3) times per week.

Plant Red Kuri squash, Blue Hubbard Squash and Buttercup squash (as a trap crop) three (3) weeks prior to planting summer squash, winter squash, cucumber, cantaloupe and watermelon. The trap crop should be seeded in pots for transplanting, prior to direct seeding squash, cucumber and melons. Monitor for squash bugs to determine if treatment is needed on the trap crop.

Plant Red Kuri or Blue Hubbard or Buttercup squash transplants either surrounding, adjacent, at the four corners or in containers next to the crop.

red kuri blue hubbard

buttercupTrap Crop illustration

Monitor for squash bugs.

squash bug eggs nymphsquash bug nymph

Squash bug adult

Spot spray the squash bugs on the trap crop with a*pyrethrin insecticide. It may be necessary to spray the entire trap crop when the population threshold is exceeded. In other words, the squash bugs have infested the entire trap crop with eggs, larvae and adults.

*Pyrethrin insecticides – Evergreen Pyrethrum Concentrate, *OMRI Listed

PyGanic® Crop Protection EC 5.0 II, *OMRI Listed

* OMRI Listed: The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a national nonprofit organization that determines which input products are allowed for use in organic production and processing. OMRI Listed—or approved—products may be used on operations that are certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.

Caution – You must read the label!! The label is the law!! Pyrethrins will instantly kill any insect that is sprayed. That includes beneficial insects (honey bees, bumble bees, lady bugs, parasitic wasps, etc.). Be very careful!! Remember, squash crops, cucumbers, and melons are dependent upon pollinators to produce fruit.

When you follow these steps you will enjoy a fruitful harvest. Let me know of your success!


You may purchase the above varieties of squash at Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company by clicking on the links below.

17 thoughts on “Got Squash Bugs? Use Trap Crops!

  1. This is my first year trying to grow squash and zucchini, but after all the information out there I think I may not have much success.. Oh well I’ve battled with the slugs, and earwigs for years, I might as well battle another critter that’s hungry.. I’ve planted in a raised bed in my back yard, to try and feed the critters.. hopefully they will not notice my deck garden box full of the things I want to save.. time will tell the rest of the story.. Great post you made here with lots of information for us… Good luck to you too..

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and take care from, Laura ~


      1. Papa, oh I’ve not given up in the least…I know there’s a battle ahead and I look forward to every years challenge over the garden critters. I just hope the fake garden tricks them this year.. Next year perhaps the roof? wink… 🙂

        Take care and happy gardening to ya, from Laura ~


      2. Ummmm – no. I’ve grown all sorts of squash and squash related crops for years. The “trap” crop only attracts more squash bugs to the garden, and they don’t stay on that crop, any squash crop is fair game. They are attracted to the smell of their food and don’t differentiate between one squash type and another. The best solution is diligently checking tops and bottoms of the leaves every. single. day. for eggs and squishing them. Also checking for the adults and squishing them. Pyrethrins don’t seem to help much and I don’t like spraying. Just old fashioned bug picking.


      3. Thank you for your comment. I look forward to your continued insights from your years of gardening. Thank you for visiting Papas Gardens blog.


    1. Blue Hubbard is one of my favorite winter squash along with that beautiful warty salmon colored french type I cannot pronounce! I grow a variety, and get squash bugs by the thousands. I use my SHOP VAC nearly every day, vacuuming them off the leaves and often the ground. It does not kill them, so I keep a rag stuffed in the hose end until I empty it. The shop vac is a permanent fixture in my garden in the summer. I managed to harvest several last year by being very vigilant, I lost all the year before.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. If you are willing to spray often, a dilution of 1 to 2 tbsp of dish soap like Dawn per gallon of water will kill them…but you have to be vigilant.


    1. Thank you for your insights. Be careful using Dawn liquid detergent because it may desiccate the leaves and stems of garden plants. Dish soap, such as Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid would be preferred to a detergent based cleaner. Thank you for your comment, I look forward to hearing from you in the future. Papa


  3. I find this very interesting. Red Kuri was the only squash I had that was not decimated by the squash bugs. I am puzzeled about using it as a trap, as it seemed immune to the enemy invaders last year. Maybe the other squash were a trap, protecting it. But really, the bugs left it alone, but wiped out the blue Hubbard. I am glad someone is putting some thought to this. My dad went out every day pulling eggs off the undersides of leaves with duct tape. His faithfulness was not sufficient.


    1. As long as you plant these varieties surrounding your preferred crop, the squash bugs move from the outside in. You have to monitor the trap crop three times per week. When squash bugs are detected, you must spot spray the squash bugs (nymphs and adults). That is what keeps your trap crop alive and subsequently your preferred cucurbit crop unaffected.


  4. The article warns to be careful of the pollenators; besides not spraying them directly is there anything else that can be done? Thank you for all of the good advice. I’m planting my first squash this year. I’m just waiting on my seeds from you, but I now need to get some trap crop seeds. Have I waited too long? I’m in West Texas.


  5. Plant your trap crop seeds (direct seeded or in a pot for transplant) by June 7th and plant your preferred food crop on July 1st. Plus, by planting late, the squash bug population will be less. Happy Gardening!! Papa


  6. I have found duct tape is effective in removing squash bug eggs from leaves without damaging the leaves. Just make a loop sticky side out or use small pieces and place over the eggs with some pressure, then remove and squish the eggs. It generally works very well, and you don’t squish, cut or otherwise damage the plant leaves. I generally do a daily search to pick bugs and eggs from my precious crops.


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