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Earwigs

Closer Look Of The AphidA threatening-looking bug about 1/2 to 3/4-inches long, reddish brown with tiny wings and large nasty pincers at the hind end, which are used to ward-off ant attacks. They don’t bite, and the pincers won’t hurt you, but they give most gardeners the creeps none-the-less; they are perhaps the most universally loathed insects in the garden. Earwigs like to hide in moist vegetation during the day, and hunt and feed at night, which is why you won’t see them until you disturb a leaf or brush pile.

Earwigs do double duty as both beneficial and harmful insects. They eat insect eggs, mites, fleas, larvae, and are great aphid predators. On the bad side they make holes in foliage, damage fruit and flower plants and attack young shoots and seedlings.

Adult

Earwig AdultAdults overwinter several inches below the surface, becoming active during warm days in late winter. They hide in litter and brush piles during the day, and come out to forage at night. Their damage is often confused with that of caterpillars and slugs, so some investigating will be needed. Adults rarely fly – their wings not being strong enough – and they don’t attack humans, but can emit a rather putrid odor when crushed, a type of chemical defense. There is no evidence that they transmit diseases or viruses to humans or animals. We have seen numerous earwigs in our compost piles, rapidly running away when disturbed.


Eggs

Earwig EggsA cluster of about 50 eggs are normally laid by each female, hatching sometime in April. The young molt in several weeks and begin to forage on their own, becoming full-size in about five to six weeks. Sometimes the mother earwig will lay a smaller second egg cluster in May or early June, resulting in earwigs throughout the growing season. Earwigs can enter your house during very hot weather but will not reproduce, which only happens outside underground.


Nymph

Earwig NymphYoung earwigs (nymphs) are similar to adults, are white to light green and lack wings.


Vegetables That Earwigs Like To Eat

Beans Celery Flower Blossoms Potatoes
Beet Seedlings Corn, Sweet (silks) Lettuce Strawberries
Cabbage


Control

Place some beer in shallow tins sunk into the ground near susceptible plants. Earwigs are attracted to the smell and will drown in the tins.

Bury a tin or glass can or jar and rub some bacon grease or tuna fish oil on the inside, about 2 inches from the top. Pour some water or, better yet, vegetable oil, into the can or jar. The earwigs will fall into the can trying to get after both the oil and grease.

Also, try this: put some grease, peanut butter, fish oil or beer on a newspaper and loosely roll it up, making sure it is nice and damp. Use rubber bands to hold it together, and place the rolled-up paper in the garden, where you suspect earwig damage. The earwigs will try to hide inside of the newspaper; now simply throw it away each morning.

Frog, A Natural PredatorA spray of garlic and soap, applied at sundown, is said to be very effective against these predators. Carbonyl is also very effective outdoors. Natural predators include frogs, toads and birds.

To protect corn silks from earwig damage, try dusting them with a small amount of boric acid. Boric acid is also effective if they invade your home, especially the kitchen cabinets area.


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