One of the most common garden pests is the earwig or pincher bug, a nasty-looking little bug that actually is not all bad.
Earwigs eat living and dead material in your garden, doing a lot of cleanup work. They love to eat soft-bodied bugs like mites and aphids and they’ll eat insect eggs too. In some respects they can be a beneficial force, but past a certain number they are very destructive. They are especially fond of soft fruits, sweet corn and seedlings. They can also do lots of damage to leaves and flowers on mature plants as this photo that Mary Beth took in her client’s garden shows.
Earwig damage looks similar on leaves. You will find irregular holes or chewed edges. Signs that it’s something other than earwigs are frass or webbing which indicate caterpillars, or slime trails which are left by slugs and snails.
Once you know that earwigs are your problem it’s time to get things under control. Earwigs like dark, moist hiding places so you can take advantage of this habit to trap and eliminate them. There are several techniques that you can use.
- Roll up dampened newspapers and place at the base of the affected plants in the evening. In the morning shake the earwigs which will be hiding in the rolls into a pail of soapy water.
- Another trick is to use cut lengths of old hoses. Follow directions above.
You’ll probably have pretty good results with those two options, but here’s the very best way to trap earwigs.
- Fill tuna fish or cat food cans 2/3 full of vegetable oil and a few drops of molasses. Earwigs love this concoction. In the morning they will have climbed into the cans and drowned.
Keep setting traps until you stop finding earwigs in them.
This is so much better and more direct than any chemical methods which will introduce toxic substances into your garden killing beneficial insects and making your plants less healthy. Organic is better!