Bugs with pincers and scatter as soon as you lift a garden pot have to be among the creepiest.  When you add the name Earwig to the bug's name, based on an old wives tale that they crawl into your ear while you sleep, the heebie jeebies are off the scale.  Even though you may shutter at the sight, Earwigs really are not that bad for your garden, and they are not out to pinch you either.

The wet conditions in the southeast portion of the state this spring resulted in a large number of earwigs showing up in homes and gardens according to Amanda Bachmann, SDSU Extension Pesticide Education & Urban Entomology Field Specialist:

Earwigs are very distinctive and are often feared by onlookers due to the pincer or forceps appendages present at the end of their body, but they are not harmful to humans.  Occasionally, earwigs are considered garden pests when their feeding damages fruit or foliage. However, for the most part they prefer to inhabit areas under mulch, potted plants, compost piles or other damp, sheltered locations.

Earwigs eat aphids and mites, as well as decaying plant material and garden plants.

Generally, earwigs exist outdoors and are mostly unnoticed, but like many other insects they can find their way inside.

You can catch earwigs with an old tuna can, a little leftover tuna oil inside to line the bottom of the can and when the earwigs enter the can, they're stuck inside the oily goo.

Debbie Graham from the Radio Program How's it Growing says an alternative to chemicals includes crushed up egg shells or oyster shells to create a barrier that basically cuts up the surface of the earwigs as they try to travel by.  The shells do need to be finely crushed.  Another easier alternative is purchasing diatomaceous earth from a garden store and sprinkle it where earwigs and other pests run.

If applying an insecticide to garden plants, mulch or soil, make sure to read and follow the label directions. Applying insecticides to flowering plants can be harmful to pollinators and other beneficial insects.


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