pumpkinsPumpkins are a useful type of winter squash. They can be used for everything from Jack-O’-Lanterns to pies to stock feed. Unfortunately, bugs love pumpkins, too. Squash bugs, also called stink bugs, can feed on your prized pumpkins and damage them. The experts at Apex are well-acquainted with these pests.


Adult squash bugs are just over half an inch long. These winged insects have gray-brown backs and orange undersides. Immature squash bugs are only about one-tenth of an inch long when they hatch, and their bodies are green. As they grown, they become larger and darker.

When squash bugs are crushed, they release an unpleasant odor. This is why many people refer to squash bugs as stinkbugs. Technically, squash bugs and stinkbugs are different types of pests. To tell them apart, look at what they’re feeding on. Squash bugs like eating squash and pumpkins, while stink bugs are fans of tomatoes and legumes. Stinkbugs will also release a foul odor when they’re disturbed, while squash bugs only smell when they’re crushed.

Damage to Pumpkins

Squash bugs can cause a lot of damage to your pumpkins. They primarily feed on the pumpkins’ foliage. Their saliva is highly toxic, and this causes the foliage to wilt, blacken, and die. Squash bugs can also feed on the fruits.

These bugs can also spread a bacterium to your pumpkins. This bacterium, called Serratia marcescens causes cucurbit yellow vine disease. Plants can wilt and turn yellow quickly. This disease is especially frustrating since it usually strikes when the pumpkins are nearly mature.

How to Control Pumpkin Pests

To protect your pumpkins, inspect them on a weekly basis for signs of squash bugs. If you find squash bugs, you can pick them off your plants and drop them into a container of soapy water. Check the lower surface of leaves for eggs. Squash bug eggs are bronze and flattened, and may be deposited in clusters. If you find eggs, destroy them to keep them from hatching.

To kill immature squash bugs, you can spray your pumpkins with an insecticidal soap. You can make a homemade insecticidal soap or purchase a pre-made product from a garden center. These soaps can cause eye and skin irritation, so remember to protect yourself with goggles, gloves, and other personal protective equipment.  

You don’t need to let squash bugs ruin your pumpkins. If you’re having trouble controlling these pumpkin pests, call the experts at Apex.

Apex Pest Control is one of the most trusted Tampa pest control companies in the state. We’re proud of the work we do to help keep the homes, landscape, and businesses in our community free from harmful plants, insects, and animals, while also striving to maintain a balance with the ecosystem as a whole. Check out our blog or contact us today to learn more!