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Squash Vine Borer Moth (Melittia cucurbitae)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Squash Vine Borer Moth

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The Squash Vine Borer is a moth that mimics stinging bees and is harmless to people, but its offspring are efficient damage dealers.

Updated: 01/05/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Squash Vine Borer moth is harmless to squash, zucchini, pumpkin, and melon plants, but its larvae are quite destructive. Females lay fertilized eggs that look like small, brown American footballs on the plant. Once larvae hatch, they bore into the stem of the plant and begin eating the pith inside it. They look like white wormy grubs with brown heads. Look for entry holes and frass at the base of a stem. Wilting leaves is a sign of infiltration, followed by rotting stems and eventually plant death if left unchecked. Nymphs are grayish-white and resemble aphids. They move in groups and can be found under leaves and along the stem.

Preventing adults from laying eggs in the first place is the best measure of defense against this insect. The red and black adult moth is conspicuous and easy to see. Moth traps may help eliminate them before they reproduce. Using row covers also prevents them from laying eggs on the host plant. Planting a second round of squash after the adults have reproduced will ensure a later harvest. If a stem is found to be infected (wilting leaves, pinholes, and frass at the base), cut it off the plant. Cut down the length of the stem and a look inside to confirm the presence of the larval worm.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Squash-Vine-Borer-Moth

squash; pumpkin; gourd; cucumber; zucchini
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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Garden pest insect icon
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Lepidoptera
        Family: Sesiidae
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          Genus: Melittia
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            Species: cucurbitae

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Melittia cucurbitae
Category: Butterfly or Moth
Size (Adult; Length): 28mm to 32mm (1.10" to 1.25")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: red; black
Descriptors: dots; furry; flying; garden pest

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 28mm (1.1in) and 32mm (1.3in)
Lo: 28mm
Md: 30mm
Hi: 32mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Squash Vine Borer Moth may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Squash Vine Borer Moth. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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