How to Control Earwigs
In the Northeast of the U.S. and in much of Eastern Canada, where the excess moisture of the summer of 2009 continues to persist, earwigs can be almost as much of a problem as the slugs that posted about earlier. They probably gross people out even more.
Earwigs, also known as pinchers, will appear around your home and garden randomly by day, but do their real damage at night. They really don’t like sunlight and that’s the key to controlling them. If you give the insects a dark, most place to hide, you can easily trap them and then kill them in a pail of soapy water.
Here are a few ideas for traps that can be set slightly away from affected plants:
1) Sections of old garden hose or bamboo, cut about a foot long. Wet the hose or bamboo first and the earwigs will be more likely to crawl in.
2) Newspaper, either soaked and rolled up, or crumpled wet and stuffed into a flower pot. Turn the pot upside down and lift it slightly off the ground with a stick or a rock so the earwigs will have room to crawl inside.
3) Fish oil in a tuna can. The earwigs will crawl into the can and drown. Beer or soy sauce also works well.
4) Purchased or homemade wooden traps. Make your own by taking two boards that are three or four inches wide. With a table saw, cut quarter-inch grooves in them along their full length and try to keep the grooves a half-inch apart. Align the grooves on both boards and hold the boards together with elastic bands — or if you’re a motivated carpenter, you can install hinges on one end and a hook on the other. Stand the trap near whatever plants are infested with earwigs. If you keep the wood moist, your trap will be constantly filled with earwigs until the population dies down.
5) Boric acid. Mix this with a bait food like oatmeal or other cereal and the earwigs (and ants) will eat the boric acid (found in Borax detergent) and die. Put your boric acid and bait in a small box that has a few holes punched near the bottom; the box provides the dark area that earwigs like and it also keeps the boric acid away from your children and pets.
6) More toxic baits. Our SafeLawns sponsors, GardensAlive.com, sells an all-purpose eco-friendly bait: http://www.gardensalive.com/product.asp?pn=2967&ss=earwigs.
7) Natural predators. Earwigs have at least two specific natural insect enemies in North America. One is a tachinid fly (Bigonicheta spinipennis) that was imported in the Northwest in 1924 and the parasitic fly Digonichaeta setipennis. These flies, which look a lot like common houseflies, can be attacted by planting the following plants:
Anise (Pimpinella anisum)
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
Coreopsis (Coreopsis tinctoria)
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Dill (Anethum graveolens)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Golden marguerite (Anthemis tinctoria)
Painted daisy (Chrysanthemum coccineum)
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)
If you have any other ideas for getting rid of earwigs, please send them along.
8) Reduce moisture. Out in the garden, never water in the evening. This practice is just asking for trouble from all sorts of insects and diseases. And inside the house, be sure to wipe down countertops, remove excess condensation from around toilet bowls, pipes and refrigerators and check for any leaky pipes. Running a dehumidifier during August is usually a good idea.