Melittia cucurbitae

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Melittia cucurbitae larva in cucurbit vine (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Jeffrey Hahn, University of Minnesota
Source: Journal of Integrated Pest Management (2018), 9 (1 - 22)
Melittia cucurbitae - male (left) and female (right) (click on image to enlarge it)
Author(s): Jeffrey Hahn, University of Minnesota
Source: Journal of Integrated Pest Management (2018), 9 (1 - 22)

Melittia cucurbitae (Harris, 1854) - (squash vine borer)

This vine borer is found in central and eastern parts of North America, as well as in Central and South America. It breeds in cucurbits (Cucurbitaceae) and is a pest of squash (Cucurbita species). Females lay eggs on the stems and the larvae bore into the stem, disrupting the flow of water and nutrients, and causing wilting of the vine.

An infestation level of 3-4 larvae per squash plant will reduce yield by >20% and higher infestations will usually kill the plant. For management, a combination of monitoring with pheromone traps and pesticide applications is recommended (Brust, 2010). Crop rotation, planting trap crops, and planting cultivars less attractive to the vine borer will also reduce the damage.

The adult moths have a wingspan of typically 3-3½ cm, with a black or dark blue-green thorax and bright orange coloration on the legs and abdomen. The forewings are black, while the hindwings are clear with dark veins and borders.

For a review see Middleton (2018).