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What are Squash Bugs?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 March 2014
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A squash bug is a common type of insect that can be found across the United States. It is considered a pest because it attacks produce, such as squash and pumpkins. Though it may get its name because of its affinity for squash and similar produce, it also attacks things like cucumbers, zucchini and gourds.

When a squash bug is an adult, it appears flattened and is quite large. Most adult squash bugs are about 5/8 inch (1.58 centimeters) long and about 1/3 inch (8.46 millimeters) wide. Usually, they are darkly colored and appear either gray or brown. They have abdomens that stick out a bit beyond their wings, so that you can see the edges of their abdomens when looking at them from above. Their abdomens also have stripes that alternate in colors of orange and brown.

Squash bugs look quite different when they first hatch, having light-green abdomens and black heads. Their legs and antennae are black after hatching and for the rest of their lives. With time, they turn light gray and then move on towards a brownish gray.

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Squash bugs spend the winter sheltering under such things as plant debris and rocks; they also find shelter around buildings. In the spring, adults leave the comfort of shelter to find plants and feed, mating as well. The female squash bug lays eggs in clusters; typically, about 20 individual eggs can be found in a cluster on the underside of a leaf. Generally, females can be found in gardens in early June, where they begin to lay eggs and continue to do so all the way through mid-summer. The eggs take about 10 days to hatch; and the time it takes for nymphs to grow to adulthood is about four to six weeks.

Squash bugs suck the sap out of leaves using mouthparts that pierce; when they feed on leaves, they cause yellow spots to form. After some time, the yellow spots turn brown. Though this may not seem to be so much of a problem, the feeding of squash bugs interferes with nutrient and water flow through the plant. In time, extensive feeding may lead to permanent damage and even the death of young plants. Stronger, larger plants may not be as vulnerable to the feeding of squash bugs, but they can also be killed or damaged by extensive feeding.

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