Saturday, July 16, 2011

Genus Melittia

I take pride in making my prairie a habitat for wildlife. It is certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation, a Best of Texas Backyard Habitat by Texas Parks and Wildlife, a Monarch Waystation by Monarch Watch, and a Bee Friendly Garden by Texas Bee Watchers. See the Links section for additional information about these certifications.

Butterflies and moths are some of my favorite wildlife visitors. I plant nectar flowers to feed the adult butterflies and moths and specific host plants to feed the caterpillars.

I spotted this colorful moth in my garden recently. It is a moth, although it is often mistaken for a bee or wasp. This is either Melittia calabaza or Melittia cucurbitae. I cannot determine the species from the internet photos and it really does not matter. The common name for this moth is Squash Vine Borer and that is enough identification for me. Squash Vine Borers lay their eggs on the stems of squash and related plants. When the caterpillars hatch, they burrow into the stems and can eventually kill the plants. 

My wildlife habitat is also a human, Homo sapiens, habitat where I grow organic vegetables for my consumption. When an insect's feeding threatens to interfere with my feeding they better look out because I will be forced to assert my power as the dominant species in this  habitat.

So what happens when I see a Squash Vine Borer in my garden? Warning: The following image may not be suitable for sensitive eyes or stomachs.

I squash them! At least when I can catch them. Unfortunately, a couple of others escaped my wrath on this day. If they know what is good for them, they will stay away from my squash plants because I love my grilled squash.


  1. Hahahah...well, you DO have to draw the line somewhere, don't you! I go out of my way to avoid disturbing most everything...but woe to the slug that crosses my path ;-)

  2. GROSS, but I would have done the same thing. Sometimes when I'm out deadheading, if I see a grasshopper chewing, I just cut him in half with my pruners. EEEWWW... A gardener's gotta do what a gardener's gotta do.

  3. I used to grow squash in my organic vegetable garden and I've killed many a borer. I could only find the grubs, never the adults. They would fly away as a red blur. I'm impressed it stayed on a leaf long enough to get photographed and long enough to....well, uh, meet its match.
    Slitting squash vines and digging out the grubs has GOT to be my least favorite chore.
    Good job!
    David/ Tropical Texana/ Houston

  4. Well, he/she deserved it. Eat something else.

  5. Layanee, I am guessing this one was a male. It was just lounging on a leaf while several females were busy laying eggs on the squash. When you are lazy around here, you get squished or squashed.


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