Last year, I lost all my plants to pumpkin and squash borers. How can I beat these pests?
—Joan Huffman, New Oxford, Pennsylvania
I've battled these insects for years. The adult, an orange and black moth, lays small brown eggs on the stems near the base of the plant.
Destroy the adults when you see them (a badminton racket works great), and smash the eggs as soon as they are laid. This is usually the time the plants begin to vine. Some gardeners spray the base of the plants with an insecticide. You'll need several applications throughout the season. Be sure to read and follow all label directions carefully, as many of these products kill the bees needed to pollinate the plants.
Don't give up if the borers move into the stem. Just slice the stem lengthwise and follow the trail of destruction. Kill any borers you find. Then bury the sliced portion of stem with soil. The buried stem often forms roots, and the plant will continue to produce.