Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

From what I hear, most gardeners’ vegetable gardens are producing well.

Tomatoes and cucumbers seem to be coming along nicely, but I’m hearing the usual complaints about squash vine bores destroying squash plants. Squash vine bores usually infect and destroy both summer and winter squash plants, as well as pumpkin plants.

Adult squash bores are small moths about half an inch in length with orange abdomens with black spots. Fortunately, female squash bores only lay one generation of eggs per year, but that one generation can cause a lot of damage in our gardens.

Momma bore lays her eggs on the bottom part of the squash stems, near the soil. The eggs soon hatch into the cream colored larvae (worms) with brown heads. The new larvae bore into the stems of the squash plants and start feeding.

The larvae feed as they move through the center of the stem, blocking the flow of water to the rest of the plant. Larvae can feed for four to six weeks, before leaving the stem to then burrow down into the soil to pupate until the next spring.

If all of this garden activity were to go unnoticed the plants would eventually collapse and die.

Bt Worm Killer is one of the easiest ways to kill the squash bores. Bt is a strain of bacteria that is safe to use in organic gardens and is nontoxic to humans, animals and beneficial insects. Injecting diluted Bt directly into a squash plants stem with a disposable hypodermic syringe is one of the fastest way to control this problem. Bt can also be injected as a preventative method right after the first squash flowers bloom on the plants.

A second planting of squash will usually be able to mature and produce well after the first adult bores have finished laying their eggs. Practice rotating your crops to help minimize this and many other garden issues.

Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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