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
- I have an apricot tree in my backyard that is loaded with apricots. We have not sprayed the tree with anything, but I would like to use what I can of the fruit that is not 'buggy'. The apricots have red/brown spots on the skin, my research tells me it might be a fungus. Would the fruit be safe to eat if it was cooked and then canned? Also, I would like to transplant some of my fathers raspberry bushes, when is the best time to do that?
- I have a healthy looking aspen tree whose leaves turn brown and fall off in early September without ever turning colors. I live in Midway and Aspens do well here. Do you know the cause and can it be corrected?
- I was told there was a worm that eats the goathead or Tribulus Terrestris is that true?
- I just moved to SLC from Phx,Az and many of the plants here are new to me. I have some flowers in my yard that resemble "Blue Dicks" closely but, the flowers do not cluster -- they each form on a single stem and have been flowering since the end of April. I also have some Violet-like flowers growing in my lawn at about the same height as the grass. I would like to know what they might be and where I might be able to purchase seed or bulbs of the same type so I can plant more
- I am buying a home, and have no idea how to take card of a yard and plant a garden/flowers. Do you have or know of any classes to teach these things?
- I had to cut down a large Globe Willow tree in my back yard as it was growing into the power line. I have heard that it is dangerous to burn the wood from a Globe Willow in a fireplace as it emits toxic fumes. Is this true?
- Our lawn is very bumpy and hard to walk on. Are the quaking aspen tree roots doing this? Should we aerate the lawn or does this cause more problems with the roots?
- Some of the bottom leafs on my tomato plants have turned brown and are dying. I have lost one plant and it looks like another may go soon. I am watering three to four times per week and I have been putting a liquid fertilizer on the plants about once a week. Any ideas about what I may be doing wrong?