• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com pie forums private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • r ranson
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Leigh Tate
  • jordan barton
stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • paul wheaton
  • Liv Smith
master gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • John F Dean
gardeners:
  • Nancy Reading
  • Beau Davidson
  • Heather Sharpe

Severe earwig infestation

 
Posts: 30
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
3
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For several years we have had an earwig infestation covering our whole yard, with the earwigs eating up brassicas, parsley, raspberries, etc.  Now it's way worse, maybe due to a few factors this year: don't have chickens anymore; no wild birds this year other than scrub jays; haven't watered lawn so they concentrate in the garden area. I never studied the soil solutions, but right now I'm trying to protect a bunch of my baby grafted trees (apples, plums, figs) from another night of damage.

Things I've tried:
Bowls of fermented/sweet liquid {catches hundreds, but doesn't keep them off the plants}
Spray solution of vinegar and dish soap {1 part vinegar to 3 parts water) (didn't even keep them off the leaves, and started to burn the leaves}
Diatomaceous earth sprinkled on most leaves {earwigs were crawling all over it and eating still}

Does anyone know of some other quick solution that works? A barrier to put around each small trunk?
Thanks for your insight!![/color]
 
gardener
Posts: 6774
Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
1499
hugelkultur dog forest garden duck fish fungi hunting books chicken writing homestead
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
First some information on the earwig:

The common earwig (Forficula auricularia) is considered to be an insect pest when it feeds on soft plant shoots, such as corn silks, and eats small holes in foliage and flowers.
Occasionally ripened fruits are infested, but damage is usually tolerable. It can be particularly damaging to seedlings.
Earwigs also play a beneficial role in the garden, acting as scavengers on decaying organic matter and as predators of insect larvae, snails, aphids and other slow moving bugs.
These slender red-brown insects (3/4 inch long) with elongated, flattened bodies are distinguished by a pair of sharp pincers at the tail end, which they use for capturing prey and mating.
A few species have wings, although it is not a strong flier, and usually crawls in search of food.
Earwigs get their name from an old superstition that they crawl into the ears of a sleeping person and bore into the brain.
While menacing in appearance, they are harmless to man.

Adults overwinter in the soil.
Females lay 20-50 cream-colored eggs in underground nests during January and February, and the newly hatched young (nymphs) first appear in April.
Nymphs are protected in the nest and do not leave until after the first molt, when they must fend for themselves.
Young earwigs develop gradually, passing through 4-5 stages before becoming adults.
They are similar in appearance to adults, but lack wings and the large sized pincers.
Most species have one generation per year.

How to control earwigs:

Remove garden debris and excessive mulch where earwigs are living and breeding.
Since earwigs seldom fly, a sticky band of  some sticky substance such as Tanglefoot Pest Barrier around the trunks of trees, shrubs, and woody plants will prevent them from reaching the leaves and fruits on which they feed.
Apply food-grade Diatomaceous Earth in a circular barrier at least 1 foot wide for long-lasting protection.
Trap earwigs by placing rolls of damp newspaper or burlap bags in areas where they are found. Collect and dispose of pests the following day.

Hope this helps you combat your problem.

Redhawk
 
Esther Platt
Posts: 30
Location: Oregon Zone 8b
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks for your reply a year ago. I'm still trying to decide what to do.
 
pollinator
Posts: 161
Location: Sedona Az Zone 8b
64
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
How I got rid of earwigs....10 years ago I moved to Sedona and began creating a huge organic garden in my backyard. No one in my neighborhood had a garden here so I was suddenly creating a a giant smorgasbord of tasty food in high desert country where the bugs had been on a starvation diet for decades. The 2nd year I had an explosion of earwigs. As soon as my peas and beans and carrots began to sprout the earwigs devoured them. I planted out my squashes and cucumbers and brassicas and the next morning at the crack of dawn I ran out to the garden only to find piles of earwigs on everything. Not a single plant survived! By sun up the earwigs would be gone, hiding in the mulch from the hot sun. I tried a hundred different suggestions that failed, including D.E. which washed away as soon as I watered.

This is what I did.... Only one trap worked well. Bury a large soup can in the dirt up to the rim near your plants, or near where your plants used to be. Pour in 1 inch of cheap vegetable oil and add a few drops of oil from a can of tuna fish (packed in oil) to each can. Just a couple of drops is necessary. They love the smell of tuna. Each morning the cans would be loaded with dead earwigs. Dump out the crud and start again. I probably had about 50 cans going that summer and caught 20-40 each day in each trap.

I had about 50 tomato plants which were about the only things the earwigs didn't bother. But I realized the bugs would spend the day cooling off under the mulch around the tomatoes. So, (O.K. This is kind of gross so prepare yourselves) As I walked down the rows watering the tomatoes with my hose the earwigs would all quickly come running out because they didn't want to drown. I had the hose in one hand and a heavy glove on the other and I squished every bug I saw. I was killing probably 12-30 bugs per plant per day for 3-4 months.

By the end of the summer I figured that I had most likely killed about 35,000 earwigs! Yes, I said 35,000! Luckily, they only procreate once a year. I have hardly seen an earwig since then. Maybe one or two a year. A few of my friends have tried this and it worked for them too. If they come back I will start using the traps early.

Unfortunately the next year I had an explosion of pill bugs which were way harder to control. They procreate constantly. I wrote about my solution to them in another thread. Happy hunting.
 
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you, Debbie Ann. I'm in the same boat as you. Arid climate, nearest neighbors don't garden. The earwigs exploded this year. I've put out 11 oil traps but clearly i need to up my game. I want to get the population severely reduced for next year. It's the entire yard. Im inspired by your reduction! Pill bugs though...
 
pollinator
Posts: 809
Location: Utah
196
forest garden fungi bee medical herbs writing greening the desert
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hot and arid, yes. They will seek out the tiniest hint of moisture. Traps work, smashing works. But I have found the simplest is to plant before they're awake for the season, protect the plants if necessary, so they're well established when the earwigs emerge. They will go after the seedlings and "soft" growth first, like spring leaves. Put a shelter of some kind around the base of the plant late fall so any earwigs or other pests inside it will die before spring. If they can't get in, they'll leave the plant alone. Then a trap plant that they really like will keep them away from your regular plantings.

Pill bugs are of course a different issue, but they respond to similar solutions. I've been told they won't go after live plants, but that's in areas with plenty of water and plenty of other food. Early planting (they emerge AFTER the earwigs in my experience), trap plants, etc.

This year they don't seem to be affecting my sweet potatoes and moschata (butternut) squash. I found probably a couple dozen earwigs inside one of my moschata protections and they never touched the plant. Pumpkins seem to be one of their favorites. Any kind of pepo squash will be eaten down in a night. Beans appear to be another favorite but they haven't touched the corn this year (yet).
 
pollinator
Posts: 2339
Location: Denmark 57N
585
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I live in a totaly different environment pill bugs are not a major issue there's plenty of food for them, but earwigs, well they crawl up onto my veg stand at night and can 100% strip the herbs down to bare stalks in just one night. And that's in an area with lots of grass, lots of trees, shrubs etc so they are not starved of other food sources, it's just that parsley is apparently absolutely irresistible.
 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
Posts: 809
Location: Utah
196
forest garden fungi bee medical herbs writing greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe try spraying your parsley with something the earwigs won't eat? Not sure what that would be in your area, but it's worth a try.
 
Skandi Rogers
pollinator
Posts: 2339
Location: Denmark 57N
585
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Lauren Ritz wrote:Maybe try spraying your parsley with something the earwigs won't eat? Not sure what that would be in your area, but it's worth a try.



I think anything that would stop earwigs eating parsley would also stop humans eating it, this parsley is cut and bunched and up on a stand to sell (in water) the parsley in the ground doesn't get bothered by them that I notice. but they are a few 100m away.
 
Lauren Ritz
pollinator
Posts: 809
Location: Utah
196
forest garden fungi bee medical herbs writing greening the desert
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
    Number of slices to send:
    Optional 'thank-you' note:
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For commercial sale that makes it more complicated, yes. Maybe try treating the soil around the plants? It's a possibility, anyway.
 
"Don't believe every tiny ad you see on the internet. But this one is rock solid." - George Washington
Work/Trade for the 2022 PDC, PTJ, and SKIP events
https://permies.com/t/166040/experiences/Work-Trade-PDC-PTJ-SKIP
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic