Winter Squash

When Vine Borers Strike Twice

They got the best of me.

If you haven’t read my post yet on squash pests, you can get up to speed here.

If you’ve been following along, you know I’ve been battling squash pests. In particular the ruthless squash vine borers. Vine borers are the larvae of a moth that lays eggs at the base of squash plants. The eggs hatch, and the worm crawls into the stem of the squash and eats its way up. Needless to say… this does NOT bode well for the plant.

I lost 1/4 plants at the first onset of the vine borers, but I thought I had the issue under control. I aggressively sprayed neem oil, added compost to boost general plant health…

But, my plants recently went from growing with lush green leaves, to looking… sick. Their growth halted, they weren’t producing blooms, and the fruits weren’t getting bigger.

And then I noticed it, the sawdust-like “frass” at the base of my other plants.

That’s when I knew for sure that they had snuck past me. I gave it a few more days… maybe this round of vine borers would be less hostile?

…they WEREN’T less hostile. I lost all of my plants.

I harvested the two acorn squash I did get, and pulled the remaining plants.

The silver lining? Now I have more room for my fall vegetables that I’m growing from seed, but I’m still pretty disappointed.

I’m not sure what else I could have done to prevent the second attack by the borers, but I’ve read that they don’t prefer butternut squash plants, so I think that may be my strategy next year.

Thoughts? Did vine borers get the best of you this year?

Also, warning, if you did have vine borers, you’ll probably need to be extra vigilant next year, they can stick around in your soil year after year.


  1. I feel your pain! I’ve struggling with vine borers for two years now. I’ve even taken razor blades to the stems, cutting out the larvae to save the plants. Very time consuming and frustrating.

  2. I haven’t really had vine borers before so I’m not totally sure how they get there in the first place. Do you think that pouring a little molasses around the stem would work? Molasses is so sticky they wouldn’t be able to get out, but do they crawl on the stem from the dirt? Seem like it might work!

    1. First, you’re so lucky that you haven’t had to deal with them! The moths lay eggs at the base of squash plants, the larvae hatch, and chew their way into the stem and up. That’s a good idea! I might just have to try it 🙂

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