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
- Whenever I go into the supermarket in the summer time I see people picking out watermelons and talking about bee stings as indicators of a good melon, but I thought bees only sting when threatened and that the sting contains a venom. Is there any correlation between the marks on watermelon and bees? Adam
- Last fall we removed all of our oregon grape that has been growing for over 20 years to re-landscape a flower bed in our front yard. We put mulch on the bare ground to sit over the winter in hopes to start planting this spring. Now we have several mushroom 'colonies', is what I call it, breaking through the soil, but they are only coming through on half of the 5' x 12' area. I have pulled out the 'first round' of mushrooms, and now twice as mony are coming back, in the same area. How can I get rid of these mushrooms so that we can plant our new daylillies and spirea? I might also add that this area has not received alot of water, although it is next to our driveway where we shovel the snow.
- I have seen ads for canada green grass seed. It talks about it's resistance to drought, and the fact that is a very hearty grass. Do you have any info on this grass seed?
- I have small white worms in my turnips and radishes. How do I deal with this problem?
- Two questions; I have an dwarf Honey Crisp apple tree that is about 5 years old. Last year it had a dozen apples. I didn't disturb the fruit spurs when I picked the fruit. This year there were no blossoms on the tree. I didn't prune it at all. What can I do to help it produce every year? Second question; I have peach borers in the main branches of my nectarine tree. The tree seems healthy other than the borers. What can I do about them at this point? Will it help to dig them out? Will it help to spray? Will they winter over to next year?
- i was baking a chicken casserole last night. the power went out after about 30 minutes of baking. i put it in the fridge. then, i cooked it for 1 and 1/2 hours more when the power came back on 3 hours later. i put it back in the frige. is it safe to eat tonight?
- Can an olive tree survive in Utah?
- The grass under my english walnut tree is not doing well. What can i do to help the grass grow?