I have squash bugs invading my house for the first time and would like to stop it now before it gets worse. I've been seeing them in my garden all summer long but didn't think they were too bad. Now they've moved and I noticed them on my shrubs and house last week. Today I killed three inside and I hadn't gone out yet so I know they're getting in through a crack or some other place. I guess I should start spraying my garden but that won't be till next year. What can I do now? They're still on some plants around my house. I can see them on one side for sure. Also, I need something that's Ok for my organic garden.
Squash bugs are brown plant eating insects with piercing sucking mouth parts. Squash bugs use these mouth parts to pierce plant leaves and stems from which they drink and consume plant sap. They prefer garden-variety plants such as summer squash, pumpkins, melons and cucumbers but will readily feed on tomato plants and pretty much anything that's healthy and available they find in the yard. Most abundant from early summer to fall, squash bugs overwinter and seek protected nest sites for the winter months. If populations exist close to homes or other structures, these buildings will naturally present themselves as great locations to stay during the colder winter months. From the details in your message above, it sounds as if the squash bugs in your garden are now wanting to invade and infest your home as winter approaches so they're naturally seeking shelter as they're instinctively wired to do.
Squash bug control generally takes one full "cycle" or year to see the net result of your effort and applications. Treating the outside of your house now will certainly diminish and stop the invasion. But to get real control, you need to get rid of them where it counts most. This is in the yard and usually centers around their main nest site. For most homeowners with a squash bug problem, the main site is usually a garden, plant bed or some other densely vegetated section of the yard full of lush plants.
Squash bug treatments should start in early spring as they emerge from hibernation. Ideally this treatment should be done prior to the garden being started. Since squash bug eggs will be hatching in the soil and thatch around the garden a liquid treatment early in the year can have a big impact. If done early enough, you can effectively stop infestations stemming from your own yard. If your garden is large and covers 5000 ft.² or more, apply BUG PATROL RTS to the soil, grass and ground throughout the yard. Bug Patrol is certified for organic gardening and will not injure the ground, plants or contaminate the surrounding environment. Depending on where you live, early treatments should be done in March or April, well before you actually start the garden. You didn't state where you reside so the month is not nearly as important as the timing. And this timing should be based on when you actually start the garden. If timed right, the Bug Patrol would be applied at least one month before the garden is started.
During the summer months local populations of squash bugs will grow and then naturally want to expand. This "expansion" means migration which in turn means some will be on the move in search of food. They may come from neighbors or communities miles away so the exact source of the migration isn't important. Remember, squash bugs fly and have the ability to track and locate gardens so as your plants mature through the summer months, foraging squash bugs in the region will most likely discover your organic garden with all it's luscious offerings. It's during this time that regular inspections must be done to ensure you don't let your garden get infested. As soon as any squash bug activity is noted, treat your plants with some MULTI PURPOSE INSECT KILLER. This concentrate is quick-acting and strong enough to handle any summer garden pest. If you've had fungus problems or mite infestations over the years in your garden, consider the 3IN1 FIM concentrate over the Multi Purpose. 3In1 combines an insecticide, a miticide and a fungicide "all in one" so you'll effectively be taking care of several garden problems with just one spray concentrate. Remember to continue inspecting the garden all summer and spray as needed. If you treated early on, in the spring, your summer applications should be dramatically reduced and easy to manage.
Which brings us full circle to the "here and now". As you state, currently the squash bugs are on the move and looking for a good place to spend the winter months. This invasive behavior warrants a good outside perimeter treatment to keep them out. Spray the sides of the house with the Bug Patrol RTS now. This should stop and control squash bugs as well as any invading pests active on the home. It's not too late to slow this invasion and a good treatment now will reduce the amount of work you need to do next spring and summer. Remember, squash bugs entering your house now are merely hibernating and will emerge again next spring to continue their quest of laying eggs and reproducing. Killing them now, as they enter the home, will have a dramatic impact and reduce the work (and treatments) needed next season.
On a side note, it's Ok to use something stronger than the organic Bug Patrol on the house if you won't be spraying close to your garden. Generally, we recommend CYPERMETHRIN EC to stop other invasive pests like the closely related box elder bug, Asian ladybugs and the leaffooted bug. Cypermethrin mixes well with water, can be sprayed safely on the outside of the home and treatments will last long. The big advantage with the Cypermethrin is it's natural "repellent" characteristic which keeps bugs away for weeks. Whether you use Bug Patrol or Cypermethrin what's really important is that you target key entry points around windows, door frames, gutters and overhangs where squash bugs want to hide and hibernate.
Inside the home squash bugs can be a problem all winter. If you're late treating the outside and start seeing them in the home, try vacuuming away the daily activity. If their numbers are too persistent and they just keep showing up, treat baseboards and other entry points to the room with D-FORCE or PHANTOM AEROSOL. D-Force has a slight older but is fast working. It will leave a residual that should remain active for 2 to 4 weeks. PT Phantom is odorless but not as fast acting. Phantom will provide a residual that lasts a month or more but it will take 2 to 3 days to kill target insects. The only organic aerosol strong enough to handle squash bugs is TOPIA.It will kill squash bugs when sprayed on them directly but it's residual is short-lived. Don't expect it to last nearly as long as the D-Force or Phantom. Generally speaking, 2-4 days is about as long it will be effective so be prepared to use it frequently if you choose this product.
In summary, squash bugs are an invasive pest and when populations around the home are significant, it's likely some will migrate inside seeking protection during the winter months. To prevent these invasions, you need to treat them out in the yard by nests and key food supplies. This typically is a garden or some area with lush vegetation. Controlling squash bugs in the yard will prevent home invasions come the fall. If you missed your opportunity to treat during the summer and notice squash bugs active on your home, spray the exterior of the house once or twice to keep them out. Once inside the home, squash bugs will remain active all winter long. Though not aggressive, squash bugs are unsightly and a aesthetically displeasing. By keeping them out of your garden and off your home, you can keep them out of living areas as well.
Here are direct links to the products listed above:
Multi Purpose Insect Killer: http://www.bugspraycart.com/organic/liquid/multi-purpose-insect-killer-24-oz
Phantom Aerosol: http://www.bugspraycart.com/insecticide/aerosol/pt-phantom-17-5oz