Insecticides and Pollination

Garlic Barrier

Insecticides and Pollination is an Inter-related Issue

Insects begin their assault upon your pumpkin patch early in the season. They continue to be a threat all season long.

Honey bees and other insects, perform the essential pollination process, bringing pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers.

As the pollination period nears, pumpkins growers have a dilemma…… Insecticides do not discriminate. They kill off the bad insects, and the good ones….the pollinators.

Not using insecticides, puts your plants at risk Using insecticides kills off the pollinators. What is a pumpkin grower to do!?

While the answer is not a simple one, whenever possible try to use insecticidal soaps and repellant. Garlic Barrier is a good example of an organic repellant. The problem is, it may not be effective against some of the pests that invade your pumpkin patch.

Two Strategies to Address the Insecticides and Pollination Issue.

1. Stop applying insecticides during the pollination period. Cease insecticide applications about two weeks prior to the start of this period. After you have pumpkins growing on the vine, you can begin to apply insecticides once more.

2. Hand pollinate your crops. This is easily accomplished, if you have just a few plants. Hand pollination is impractical, for large crops. More on Hand Pollination.

A Wide Variety of Insects Like Pumpkins

A wide variety of harmful insects attack pumpkins. Some go after the leaves. And, some very bad ones, feast on the vines. The two insects most harmful to pumpkin plants are:

Squash Vine Borers – These are the most dreaded insects for pumpkin plants. The squash vine borer (SVB) begins as a flying insect. The female lays her eggs on the undersides of leaves. The eggs hatch, and the larvae climb down the leaf stem and bore into the vine. Unstopped, the squash vine borer will chew right through the vine, severing it, killing the plant.

Cucumber Beetle – This insect will eat the leaves. Then, as flowers appear, they will eat the pollen. Along the way, they can spread powdery mildew spores, and the spores of other plant diseases. The spores on one plant attach to the beetles legs, and get deposited on other plants as the beetle flies from plant to plant.  

Control squash vine borers, and cucumber beetles, and you will most likely control other insects along the way., resulting in a successful crop producing many pumpkins. 

Also see: FAQS: Pollination Problems

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