Earwigs are insect pests that feeds on plant’s shoots such as corn silks eating small holes in foliage and flowers.
The insects also feed on soft fruits such as apricots, raspberry, strawberries, stone berries and blackberries.
The earwig (Forficula Auricular) can be found in almost all zones although they are most common in the southern climates.
The earwigs are quick movers and nocturnal. The pest finds hiding places during the day when you are tending the garden.
This makes it very hard for you to spot one.
The bad news about getting rid of this pest is that they are also beneficial to your garden. They act as scavengers on rotting matter speeding up the process. They are also predators of insect larvae, feeding on and killing aphids, snails and other slow-moving bugs.
Although they feed on other insects, you really need to control or kill earwigs as these pests also feed on the rest of your garden. Read on to learn more about earwigs control.
Physical Description Of Earwigs
Earwigs are red-brown insects measuring about 3/4 of an inch long with elongated, flattened bodies, which are distinguished by a pair of sharp pincers at the end, hence the name pincher bug. They use these pincers for capturing pray and mating.
Although a few species have wings, they are not strong fliers; they usually crawl in search of food. These pests are manageable with persistent cultural adjustment and trapping; you do not need to use poisonous baits or other control measures. The earwigs are busiest during June, July, and August.
Earwigs Reproduction Rate
Also referred as the Order Dermaptera the earwigs usually reproduce fast in damp areas. The female earwig typically lays between 30-50 eggs although the actual numbers vary depending on the species. After the eggs hatch, the nymphs undergo four to five molts before becoming adults
Signs Of A Pincher Bug Or Earwig Infestation
Check Your Garden After Dark
Take a flashlight into the garden after dark when earwigs eat. Make sure to check for damaged seedlings with missing parts or stems and leaves removed. Carefully examine leaves for irregular holes and chewed edges. In case you find them on leaves or the ground, pick them up and place them in a paper bag. You can stomp on the bag to squash them or drown them in a bucket of water full of soap.
Inside The House
After dark, you’ll find the Earwig populations in areas where there is water around your home. They are common in areas with moisture and at ground level, in the kitchen, laundries, basements and bathrooms. Outdoors look for entry points around weather stripping, air-conditioning units, crawl spaces, rain gutters and other hiding places.
How Can You Control Earwigs?
Earwig pest control can be done naturally without the need of using harsh chemicals.
Use Petroleum Jelly
You can control the pests by smearing petroleum jelly generously on the stems and leaves of the plant. They can’t navigate through this material.
Trap Them Using Stale Beer
You can do the earwig extermination yourself by trapping them with a little Asian cuisine or stale beer. Make several quarter-inch holes on a top of the lid of a small container. Fill the lid halfway with stale beer. Alternatively, use equal parts of vegetable oil and soy sauce.
Snap the lid onto the trap and bury it to about a quarter inch below the rim in the garden. You are likely to find hundreds of earwigs trapped in the morning. Empty the trapped pests into a bucket of soapy water. Repeating this after 2-3 days will help you to reduce the earwig population and totally solve the pest problem.
Use Bright Yellow Outdoor Lights
Earwigs will only attack plants after dark. Installing strong outdoor lights that shine on the garden plants will help keep the pest away. Yellow bulbs are very effective in keeping these pests away.
Trap Earwigs During The Day
Roll a piece of newspaper into a narrow tube with a half to an inch diameter. Dip the tube in water to dampen the newspaper and remove it from water quickly.
In the morning hours, set this earwig trap in a shady area near the garden. The pincher bugs will find a way get in and escape the afternoon heat. Drown the trapped earwigs in a bucket of soapy water before dusk to prevent them from escaping.
Use Diatomaceous Earth
How do you use Diatomaceous earth to control earwigs? Spread Diatomaceous earth where the earwigs are apt to crawl. You can make the application in late spring every two weeks. This treats the soil around the fences, around trees, along walks and around the foundation of your house.
Make A Daytime Earwigs Hideaway
Make an afternoon hideaway by cutting one panel of an empty milk carton and clean it thoroughly with warm water and soap. Wad some newspaper or tissue and stuff it loosely into the carton.
Use water to dampen the material and set the trap near the area mostly affected. Keep the trap under a shade in the morning.
Earwigs will find their way into the wet newspaper to get away from the afternoon heat. Empty this trap in a bucket of soapy water before dusk before earwigs eat and feed at dusk.
For Earwig Control Eliminate Their Hiding Places
Remove objects that the pest seeks out for hiding places. The hiding places may include wood piles, grass clipping, leaf litter, a pile of weeds, mulch, and debris.
Pulling the mulch about 6″ inches away from tender plants also keeps them away. Trimming the trees and shrubs causing damp and shady areas near the garden also keeps them away.
Water Your Lawn And Garden When It Is Necessary
The Earwigs loves overly damp conditions with an abundance of shade. Watering the lawn and plants when the soil feels dry to the touch removes the damp conditions keeping the pests away. Also, pruning will improve airflows in the garden reducing the damp areas.
Related Reading: The earwig is one of the pests on our List of 30 Garden Pests to Control
Turn Off Fluorescent Outdoor Lights
The earwigs are attracted to bright fluorescent light. If you find them invading your garden, replace the fluorescent bulbs with the yellow light bulbs.
Tanglefoot Pest Barrier
Since most of the earwigs do not fly, placing a sticky band of Tangle foot Pest Barrier around trunks of trees, and other woody plants will keep the pest away from reaching the leaves and fruits which they feed on.
Lastly, if the infestation become intolerable, you can use ultimate insect killers or insecticides like bifen granules (amazon) as a spot treatment or crevices and sprays for cracks.