'Jaradale' pumpkin, destined to never grow up
I was checking out some of my favorite blogs the other day when I happened upon some pictures posted on Dirt Sun Rain. As I looked at a picture of Steven's decimated zucchini vine and read the accompanying text, my heart sank. The squash vine borer damage he mentioned looked an awful lot like what I had seen on my own zucchini a week or so ago, before I pulled it.
My favorite reference for state-specific gardening information is OSU's "Ohioline" website. There they post Ohio State Extension Office "Fact Sheets" on various edible and ornamental plants, and their library is rather extensive. Ohioline was my first online stop, and of course the squash vine borer had merited its own fact sheet. As I suspected, pumpkins and other squash were similarly susceptible to this pest.
According to OSU, the moths themselves are active throughout most of June. They lay oval, flat, dull-red eggs that are about 1mm in diameter, and these eggs hatch into the larvae that bore into the squash vines. The entry holes are clearly visible, and I'm posting two examples of them here. Most of the entry holes have a "sawdust-like" ooze coming out of them, as the second picture shows. The two holes in the first picture are surprisingly clean, however. Maybe they're just older?
When I found these holes, and many others like them, I figured that my 'Jaradale' pumpkin vines were probably toast. Ohioline recommended a few different plans of physical and cultural attack for dealing with these pests in small gardens, but none of them would work for me at this point. So I decided to cut open the stem and have a look at the beastie within.
As I cut the vine, I saw him shrink away from the scissors. I cut again an inch or two behind him, and then peered into the chunk to see his face. I'm sorry to report that for something that had the audacity to ruin my plans to grow pumpkins for my boyfriend (for whom Halloween is like Christmas x100) he was distressingly unremarkable in appearance. I cut away the side of the stalk to get pictures of him all around, and you should be able to click on any of these to see them in larger size:
On the bright side, there are some steps that I can take next year to make sure that these guys don't thwart me out of my pumpkins and zukes... on the other hand, I'll be pulling out what's left of this poor pumpkin vine when I get home from volleyball this evening. *SIGH*