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Garden Earwigs

There are many species of Earwigs. Some can be very harmful to plants, while others feed off insects and decaying plant matter, leaving live plants alone.

Earwigs are native to most parts of the world, including North and South America, Africa, Eurasia, Australia and New Zealand.  They are very recognizable by the pincers at the end of the abdomen, at the tail of their body. Adults grow to about 5/8 to one inch long. They have a reddish-brown body with six, light brown legs. They have a pair of antenna on their head.

Depending upon species, earwigs diet includes: Aphids, live or dead insects, mites, soft fruits, corn silk, flowers, soft growing tips of plants, and more.

An Untrue Myth: Earwigs DO NOT crawl into people ears and then tunnel into the brain. But, this myth is how it got it's name. They do not attack humans, nor are they harmful to humans.

Earwig Life Cycle:

Earwigs live for one year. They are primarily nocturnal, and live in damp dark environments. They would not survive in an arid climate. During the day, they harbor in dark, damp place, including compost piles, dead plants, and under mulch or straw.

The female lays 20 to 60 eggs in the soil, about 2 - 3 inches deep.

Earwig Control

The first step in Earwig control, is to eliminate their environment.

Eliminate damp, moist areas where they like to hide. For homeowners, make sure gutters are clean, and direct downspouts away from the house.

They are active at night. They are attracted to lights. For gardeners, place a light away from the garden. For homeowners, place a light out in the yard, to attract them away from your house. 

For homeowners, an insecticide like "Home Defense" is effective.

Organic controls Earwigs can be captured in traps. A simple trap is to roll up a section of newspaper. Place it on the ground near an infested plant at nightfall. In the morning, shake out the earwigs into a bucket of soapy water. Another trap is a tuna can with 1/2" vegetable oil. Adding a little bacon grease increases the effectiveness of the trap.

Related Topics:

Insect Control - How to identify and control a variety of garden insect pests



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