Ask a Question
Notify Me On Question Update
Email this Question
How can I control earwigs in my home and garden?
Rate This FAQ
The earwig got its name from an old superstition that it could crawl into peoples’ ears while they sleep and bore into the brain. This belief is not true. Earwigs can, however, chew into plants and cause damage and can be a nuisance around the home. Consider this information for control.
The most common type of earwig found in home yards in Utah is an exotic species called the European earwig. Earwigs are easy to recognize from their cerci, the large, pincer-like appendages on the hind end. Cerci are used in self-defense and courtship and will deliver only a mild pinch to humans. The earwig body is flat and elongated and red-brown in color. Earwigs are one-fourth to one and one-fourth inches in length. Adults have a short pair of leathery wings covering a folded pair of membranous wings. They are weak fliers and move mostly by crawling. Earwigs can emit a foul smelling, yellow-brown liquid from their scent glands. They are omnivorous and will scavenge on dead insects and decayed organic matter, prey on live insects and chew on living plant material including leaves, flowers, stems, fruits and roots.
Earwigs are pests outside the home because of the damage they can cause to ornamental and garden plants, and a nuisance when they enter homes seeking shelter and food. If damage to garden plants is apparent or many earwigs enter the home, control measures should be considered. Garden plants commonly injured by earwigs in Utah include annual flowers (especially marigolds, dahlias and zinnias), herbs (especially basil), roses, raspberries, strawberries, apricots, peaches, sweet corn tassels and silks. Because earwigs are beneficial due to their predaceous and decomposer feeding habits, they should only be controlled when causing harm. Earwigs are nocturnal. If chewing injury to plants is apparent but no culprit can be found during the day, check the plants at night with a flashlight. If shiny, slime trails are present, snails or slugs are the culprit rather than earwigs.
For earwig control, focus on the outside of the home where populations increase during spring and summer. To reduce their entry into your home, create a clean, dry border using gravel or stone immediately around the foundation wall. Eliminate hiding places near the foundation such as groundcovers, climbing vines, weeds, thick mulches and vegetation and piles of debris, leaves or wood. Earwigs hide under mulches in plant beds during the day, so be sure to select mulches with smaller-sized particles to reduce refuges. Seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors and cable holes in walls. Apply insecticides (see recommended products below) around the foundation, flowerbeds and turf within several yards of the home. In late spring to early summer, suppress earwig populations by targeting sites where they congregate (sites where females brood their young), and on plants when injury appears. Place traps in the evening and collect and remove earwigs in the morning. Effective traps include shallow cans with vegetable or other odorous oils, moist rolled newspaper and cardboard boxes baited with oatmeal or bran. Be sure cardboard containers have pencil-sized holes near the bottom for entry.
Apply an effective insecticide in the late evening just before earwigs come out to feed. Recommended insecticides include permethrin, esfenvalerate, bifenthrin, pyrethrins, carbaryl, malathion, azadirachtin and diatomaceous earth. Use enough water in the application to cover plants and carry the chemical into the top layer of soil or mulch where earwigs hide. Not all insecticide products are registered for edible plants. Read the product label carefully before making an application.
Submit Your Suggestion
Other Questions In This Topic
- What is a good fertilizer schedule?
- My petunias are horribly sticky - I assume thrips are in control although I have tried to keep them washed off (insecticidal soap) and sprayed with a systemic (orthonex). Is there anything else I might try? Would a dormant oil spray work, and if so when would I use it? Also, there are small worms that are probably chomping the blossoms. What would work to prevent or kill them? How do worms can get into my flower boxes, that are at least 6 feet off the ground?
- I have a pine tree that is dying. It has two or three branches that are dead or dying. Is there any treatment that I can use to stop this?
- Our neighbors have recently cut down a Globe Willow and A Lombardy Poplar. They did not remove the trunks and the roots are not popping up in our lawn. Is there anyway for us to stop this from happening? These people are not the fastest movers and I have a feeling that the trunks will never be fully removed. These roots have already started to push up our concrete and have left runners down our lawn.
- I want to plant a lilac hedge. I've never done lilacs before - how far apart should I plant them? Can I do a double row for a thicker hedge? If so, how far apart should the rows be? How fast do they grow? Do they need special care (they will be pretty close to a fairly busy road)? Can I plant them now, or should I wait until it's a little warmer? What are their fertilizer and water requirements? Will they be useful as a bit of a wind- and soundbreak? Thank you.
- In the past you've offered a lawn-problem analysis --- as I recall a sample was brought in to your office and a quick analysis was done --- is the program still active? What is the schedule?
- I was told there was a worm that eats the goathead or Tribulus Terrestris is that true?
- We are putting in a backyard with grass seed instead of sod. I am wondering if we need to add lime to our soil to change the pH and also what types of grass work best in our area. I assume that Kentucky Bluegrass would be best, but should I get a mix or just the Bluegrass? Are certain brands better than others?