Blog Banner

Raise, Grow, Harvest, Eat, Repeat

A blog for growers, consumers, and backyard gardeners to grow, eat, and connect in the local food system.

Pest of the Week-Squash Vine Borer

I had originally envisioned the pest of the week would be Tobacco/Tomato Hornworm but as luck would have it a different pest let it be known that it was his/her week instead. In the University of Illinois Demonstration Garden, Squash Vine Borer (SVB) made a pretty noticeable appearance. The video of this pest is on our facebook page ( It had hit one of the cucurbit plants pretty hard but I still wasn't sure if it was it or not. One of the tell-tale signs of SVB is frass (droppings) and "saw dust" like substance around the base of the plant stem where the adult has bored into it. So I was looking for both of these symptoms as I inspected the plant and sure enough there the insect was. You can see in these pictures below

Source: Grant McCarty

SVB is in the Lepidoptera order and in the adult form is black-reddish orange moth (Seen below). It's yellowish-cream larvae are the ones that cause much of the damage. The plant I removed yesterday had 5 larvae within it. They feed on the vascular tissue and make their way up the rest of the plant. This causes wilting, brown/black leaf tissue, flowers to not open, and eventually death. Because the insect is already in the plant, most pesticides can be ineffective.


Control can sometimes be very hard then. If your plant has SVB, you should remove it from your field and away from all other cucurbits. Some growers have also been proactive and will find the borer larvae in the stem, remove them, and the plant can still survive. It does take skill for this though.

So if your squash, cucumber, spaghetti squash, winter squash, melons, other cucurbits start showing wilting signs, look at the stem and see if there are any symptoms of squash vine borer. I'm still on the lookout for this pest in the Highland garden as if there is one affected plant, there can be others.


Please share this article with your friends!
Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter