Why? Because THIS:
Heartbreaking! (To add insult to injury, the overblown worms burrow into the soil where they hibernate until they emerge as adults the next spring to start the cycle all over again.)
In 2019 it all started when I planted my garden the traditional Mother’s Day weekend (in Maryland – check your local listings!), and soon after my baby zukes emerged. Everything was going very, very well until my husband and I were getting ready to leave for a week-long vacation in mid-June. As we were out the door, he exclaimed: ‘I think that’s a squash vine borer on your zucchini plant!’
This news literally sent me into a frenzy because I thought it was too early in the season to start having to deal with this pest. Instead of getting on the road (ironically we were on our way to a Master Gardener convention!), we spent the next 20 minutes:
1. Literally trying to catch the bugger in a butterfly net and
2. Inspecting all the vines and stems for those pinhead size eggs I mentioned.
We failed in catching the moth, but I did destroy about 15 or 20 eggs, sure I did not find them all. Resigned that this was the best we could do for the moment, we hung up our nets and got on the road, hoping that not too much damage would be done in our absence. This battle, after all, waits for no one, and we must be ever vigilant to thwart attacks.
Still, the next week or so was relatively quiet as I started seeing bright, yellow flowers emerge on my plants.
But oh no! Only female flowers!
As a result, several of the early ladies had to be ‘sacrificed’ because of lack of a ‘mate’. Woe is me!!!
My husband texted me the following photo on July 8:
This, too, sent me in a frenzy that evening, which got me out in my zucchini patch, knife in hand. You see, once the eggs hatch you can sometimes see the worms in the stems as evidenced by the sawdust-like ‘frass’ that will be coming out of an infected stem. That night I cut out several worms – catching them ‘just in time’ before they did too much damage. I was on a mission – defeat is not an option! (I was so stressed out I failed to take any photos during my worm-hunt. Just as well, as the results would likely have been 'graphic', not for sensitive audiences.)
Since then, I continue to check my plants daily for additional signs of worm damage, eggs, and, other pests such as squash bugs and various fungal diseases.
After winning a few rounds of ‘peek-a-boo’ with hungry, hidden worms, I haven’t found any additional damage to my plants in over a week. Did I dodge the bullet this year, finally? I dare not say. But here is what my plants look like to date, which for me, is unprecedented this late in the season.
Anybody want some zucchini (bread)?
Good luck! Feel free to share your own experiences here.