For anyone who's really fascinated by plants...and I suppose you'd have to be REALLY fascinated to find this interesting...
The worms I dug out of the plants were called Squash Vine Borers. They show up only during a very short window up time, so we won't be getting a reinfestation; and I killed them off before they could burrow into the ground and become adults, so our ground isn't infected.
Furthermore, the blooms weren't dropping as a sign of distress. It turns out that zucchini plants have male and female flowers and you can tell the difference because the female flowers actually start with the baby zucchini forming at the base while the male flowers are just on a thin stalk. The fact that our plant was only producing male flowers WAS a sign of distress, but it's perfectly normal for the male flowers to drop off after blooming.
And once you've gotten rid of the worm, it's best to bury the poor mangled stem with compost so it can re-root and get stronger without getting any more bugs in the crevices. I let ours dry out so they weren't all soft and mushy anymore and complied. We got two zucchini this week and have six more in progress, one even from the plant I was sure we'd lost.
To repel the invading pests, the best method is to regularly use insecticide dust on the ground around the baby zucchini plants and on the bases of the stems throughout the month of June, which is the only time the borers lay their eggs. There is a liquid chemical you can use also, but I didn't recognize it and would probably stick to the dust since that works for cucumbers and beans too.
It's kind of funny because when I first was trying to get rid of the pests, I said to Ben, "These things are just like iris borers!"
And indeed...they are.
There are a lot of computer geeks in this world. This post (and the fact I really wanted to write it) just goes to prove that some of us end up being plant geeks instead. Oh well.
Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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