One morning, Lissa was harvesting vegetables for dinner. She was planning to have spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and a side of wilted lettuce. After cutting the leaf lettuce and placing it in her basket, she walked over to the spaghetti squash plant.
This squash was a surprise volunteer that grew out of the compost pile. Lissa had not planted any spaghetti squash so she was very excited when this little (now huge) plant appeared. She knelt down to cut a few ripe squash. She looked them over and when she found a nice yellow one, reached in and started to pull. Almost immediately her hand was covered in tiny grey/white bugs.
Jumping up Lissa frantically brushed off the bugs, doing a strange looking circle-hop to make sure she got all of them. She tentatively inspected the rest of the plant and discovered that these bugs had invaded. They were everywhere.
Lissa ran inside and frantically searched the internet for common squash pests. There was no doubt about it. Those hideous little grey/white demons were squash bugs, the most dreaded of all squash predators.
Advice ranged from planting the crop late in the season (too late for Lissa), covering with a floating row cover (damage already done, but maybe her pumpkins and cucumbers could be saved) or use NEEM which is an organic pesticide.
Another site said to pick and squish by hand. Lissa shuddered, there was no way she was going to do that. Killing the Japanese beetles was one thing, but squishing the creepy looking little squash bugs was quite another.
Then she found a cure she could consider. Companion planting squash with onions. The scent of onions appears to confuse the squash bugs and drive them away…could this be the cure?
It was too late to plant onions now, but perhaps if Lissa threw some chopped onion in with her squash it would work? Perhaps creating a spray made with onion juice would deter these pests from her spaghetti squash? Or…what if these methods just drove the squash to attack her cucumbers, patty pan or pumpkins?
Conflicted, torn and desperate, Lissa found another piece of advice on an organic gardening forum.
Sacrifice. If it is too late in the season to use the other methods, let one of your plants be the bait to keep the bugs from all the other varieties.
Lissa looked across the yard at the huge spaghetti squash. She knew what she had to do. She knew that she could not let these vicious beasts get to her cucumbers, pumpkins and patty pan. She knew that this volunteer would become the sacrificial plant.
She walked out to the compost pile and sadly said goodbye to spaghetti squash and all of the delicious meals it could have accompanied. All of the main dishes it could have been. So much potential, eaten away by the horrid squash bug.
With one last glance, Lissa turned away. Squaring her shoulders, she vowed to take measures to ensure that next year that villainous creep would not get the better of her!