Earwigs seem to be one of those insects that give us the shivers. Maybe it's the long segmented body and maybe its those large appendages at the end that look like pincers. While the scary-looking insects don't harm humans, they can reduce your plants to Swiss cheese. They are most evident in wet springs and summers. Earwigs eat insects and can be beneficial to the garden, but when food supplies are low they will eat thin-leaved plants. Earwigs are out at night, so trapping methods are often successful. Insecticide use should be discouraged unless the infestation is severe. Insecticides will kill the beneficial insects too.
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Minimising the damage
Earwigs like moist, dark environments. To avoid infestations, do a little yard cleanup. Earwigs will nest underground when it is egg-laying season, but the rest of the time they are holed up in rotten boards, under the deck, hiding in a pile of wood chips and similar areas. Move debris so they have fewer hiding places. Simply moving items like pots on the patio, then stomping the running pests, is an easy way to reduce the population.
Chemical insecticides may aid in earwig control. Unfortunately they don't target only earwigs, and the compounds can harm good insects as well as build-up in the soil and groundwater. Chemical insecticides come in liquid, granular and dust. Powders and granules work the best when applied to hiding locations. Some examples of insecticides are diazinon, carbaryl, chlorpyrifos and propoxur. Diazinon is potentially dangerous to humans but targets earwigs. Carbaryl is relatively safe to humans, but it threatens many other insect species. You should always weigh your health and the environment's biological balance when deciding to use a chemical insecticide.
Natural elements or compounds can control earwigs without adding toxins to your garden. Diatomaceous earth comprises small sharp particles that cut up the earwig's belly as it crawls along. Insecticidal soap can be sprayed right on them if you feel like staying up at night and creeping around with a flashlight to find the pests. Boric acid or borax can be spread around doors and cracks to prevent earwigs from inviting themselves into your home.
Homemade insecticidal brews are easy to make, usually require things in the home and save you money. A spray bottle filled with soapy water and a couple of teaspoons of ammonia works on earwigs. Alternatively you can mix a cup of vegetable oil into the soapy water and spray the bugs.
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