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They feed at night and seek out dark, cool, moist places to hang out during the day. Some common hiding places are under organic matter such as mulch, pine straw, leaf litter and other debris, loose wood chip mulch, decaying matter, rotting fruit on the ground, wood, boards or tree branches lying on the ground, under dense vine growth or thick cover and pots, anything moist that provides shade and shelter from the sun. As well as hiding in piles of firewood that you didn’t use last year and let’s not forget hanging out inside that little wooded shed in the back that you haven’t gotten into in years. While earwigs are scavengers, eating dead insects, breaking down plant materials, they can also eat live plants and damage your vegetables and feed on plant flowers including marigolds, petunias, hibiscus and many other plants. Earwigs leave many small holes in the leaves and flowers of plants.

Seedlings and most flowering plants can be severely damaged or even killed when you have a large population of earwigs (coffee grounds will protect them). Earwigs can produce large populations quite quickly and can become a major problem for a homeowner overnight! They are attracted to lights, so they will come in at night attracted to any light that is on; as well as any lights you have on during the day that will cause them to hang out there, especially if it’s a cool area. Earwigs can be found in most homes and can enter through entry points like doors and windows, climbing through broken walls and any cracked openings, broken screens. They have a beneficial role in the landscape and have been shown to be important predators of aphids, mites, most insect eggs, and most soft-bodied insects such as whiteflies. They have a very unpleasant odor when crushed.

Some natural controls

Hint: earwigs are attracted to moisture

Control the water around the outside of the house. Repair any leaks. Turn it into a drip system to keep the water in the ground. Regularly check for weeds and clean up dead debris. Removes high moisture areas around walls, in mulch, under stones, boards, etc. Check for wet and damp conditions in crawl spaces, faucets, along foundations. Change the landscape by creating a dry border immediately around the walls of the house. Gravel or flat stones can be an attractive barrier against earwigs and other pest invaders. Rain gutters should direct water away from the house. Seal or weather strip all possible entry points such as doors, windows, pipes, repair screens, and doors and windows. Where earwigs are a problem, remove hiding places that have high humidity levels. Start a regular daily catching schedule. Elimination of earwig habitats is very important for the control of all insects, including earwigs. Since they are attracted to lights, stop turning them outside at night. Remove white light and install yellow LEDs instead.

inside the home

Indoor earwigs should be vacuumed daily; be sure to kill them and dispose of them by throwing them in a plastic bag and tying them up and throwing them away, right away so they don’t invade again. If earwigs are a regular problem in a building, survey the area to see how they are getting into the house and seal cracks and all entry points. Repair all broken screens.

Natural Aerosols

essential oil spray

You can make a natural spray that will prevent them from entering the house. Use 1/2 oz per gallon of water of any of the following available essential oils

1. lemonella oil

2. cinnamon oil

3. pennyroyal oil

4. clove oil

5. lavender oil

6. Citrus

7. basil

8. Any natural essential oil can be used. The above are just a few. Try yours.

Citrus Spray Use OTKO, a natural citrus cleaner. Spray directly through a sprayer. Will kill earwigs and most insects on contact. Spray soap Use any natural castile soap such as Dr Bronners soaps. They make mint, lavender, almond, tea tree, and many other natural sources. Use 1 oz per gallon of water. Will kill earwigs when sprayed.

DE SPRAY Gadren Grade DE can be added to water and sprayed. The best way is to put some DE in some pantyhose and suspend them in a gallon of water. Let stand, pour into a gallon size sprayer and spray. when it dries out, the de will act as a barrier and kill earwigs that crawl on it. You can use just dust the areas with it.

Check list

Empty, empty and empty…

Vacuum the earwigs inside your house. Vacuum very thoroughly and as often as necessary. Throw the bags in the trash.

natural powder

Garden Grade DE can be used as a powder around the house, as well as under the house and in the attic. Sprinkle lightly and let stand.

Boric acid can be used as a powder in cracks and other areas between the walls of the house.

Reducing Populations:

Indoor traps are an ongoing way to control earwigs in the home on a regular, long-term basis.

various traps

Ultimate Flea Trap is by far the best bug trap on the market. This one uses no chemicals and just a small light with a sticky mat that traps bugs that are attracted to the light. Place one in each room that has earwigs. It also works on fleas (hence the name), as well as spiders, cockroaches, and most other insects.

out of the house

Remove materials outside the building perimeter that could serve as a hiding place, such as ivy, plant debris, leaves in gutters, old wood piles, old leaf litter, newspaper piles, or other organic material. Seal and repair cracks, crevices, and other openings around the foundation or around the exterior of the home. Control moisture around the building by repairing or replacing leaky faucets, leaky air conditioners, leaky drains, control water entering the foundation after rain, and provide crawl spaces to allow entry. Repair or change conditions to promote a drier environment. Caulking and weather stripping around doors. windows bathrooms water intakes as well as electrical outlets.

Go through any interior areas that are dark and where they can hide. The cardboard boxes will be an excellent shelter for them to hang out inside the house. Remove any other debris, such as old, unused firewood. Always keep moisture out of your home by repairing faulty downspouts, keeping an area level so water drains away from the house, and maintaining proper ventilation in crawl spaces to allow the area to dry out.

Earwigs are attracted to outdoor lights, so replace them with yellow LED lights, which are less attractive to earwigs. Treatment should be done outdoors with natural applications of garden grade DE around building foundations, flower beds, mulch and lawn areas within a couple of yards of the building, as well as mezzanine areas of home. Treat in a two foot band around the building adjacent to the foundation to prevent earwigs from entering. Set up a dry border around the base of the houses for great control.

Traps outside the house.

Newspaper: A wet, rolled-up newspaper held in place with a rubber band.

Cardboard Box: Drill pencil-sized holes along the bottom edge of the cardboard box.

Old Garden Hose – 12-inch to 24-inch pieces of garden hose

Used cat food can. Add 1/2 inch of any type of beer or wine.

Tupperware: Use a tupperware as a plastic container. Drill holes along the top edge of the tub, add 2 inches of any cheap wine and cover with the top and sink into the ground.

The Finch Bird House can be used as a living unit where you can place an 8oz plastic cup half filled with beer or wine. I would try one of each and see which one appeals the most.

Trapping is an effective and simple approach to reducing earwig populations.

One of the key elements of a natural earwig management program is a daily active trapping system. Just before dark, place finch bird traps throughout the yard in out-of-sight locations. In the morning, shake the traps over a bucket of Dr Bronners soap/water or any natural soap and water. Keep catching until you don’t catch any more earwigs. Traps can be hidden near bushes and ground cover plants, or against the house. For fruit trees, keep weeds, brush, and suckers (always prune) away from the base of trees year-round because they provide shelter for earwigs, snails, and other critters. Monitor populations by counting the numbers of earwigs caught in traps.

Eliminate their habitat:

Altering the habitat around your yard will reduce earwig population and damage. Get rid of their hiding places: boards, weeds, wood piles, plant debris, leaf litter, and anything else that creates dark, damp hiding places. Do not plant dense ground covers, such as ivy, mint, herbs, next to vegetable or flower gardens. Grow vulnerable seedlings indoors until they can withstand a bit of chewing. Or start them outdoors on a table with legs protected by adhesive barriers.

Some people advise against using organic mulch because they say it provides shelter for pests like earwigs and spiders. I am of the opposing opinion that organic mulch offers earwigs a diverse hunting area that will save your plants and also meet the needs of the soil. Mulch can be kept free of earwigs by dusting with garden grade dust several times a year or just before and after each application of a new layer of mulch. Spraying the mulch with any natural soap will also control them.

andy lopez

the invisible gardener

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