i quit!!!!! need moral support

fairy_toadmotherJune 7, 2005

that is it! i am not planting any more seeds this year and probably not next year! i have tried,tried, tried to go organic. i hate using chemicals of any kind, including plant based. however, the earwigs are going to eat out my very existence. someday someone will look in a school yearbook and see a hole where my photo used to be.

they started at decimating my chamomile. from there, half of my sunflower seedlings are gone, my cucumber seedlings are gone, my squash seedlings are nearly gone, now i know why i never saw my carrots. even the furthest dream has occured: earwigs have also been eating my marigolds and lamb's ears! they will soon start on my tomatoes and popcorn, i am sure. most of my decoratives have little damage, except the lamb's ears, chamomile and marigolds. i planted the marigolds and dill attempting to repel things. obviously, earwigs are not to be stopped. i have placed out traps but there are too many things. my yard will be tin can alley. the trap next to my chamomile has not deterred them in the least.

i am ranting, but PLEASE help. i live in town, so chickens are out of the question. i know it is earwigs b/c i am the one who goes out a 1 am with a flashlight seeing brown moving masses where the leaf should be. they are soooo thick i stomp about 20 before i get off the patio. they are like overpopulated deer grazing on everything else b/c they already ate what they are supposed to. whoever heard of anything eating lamb's ears? aaaaaahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!

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How odd. I see a few earwigs every year, curled up in the tops of the milkweeds, but they seem to do little damage to our plants. Something here must keep them in check, but I'm not sure what it is.

You might try posting this problem on the insects forum, maybe someone there can help. My best guess would be to figure out where they overwinter in the fall, and deny them a protected winter nest.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 10:39PM
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that's the thing. i am trying to use compost and i think they hide in it. we used to have a tree they were attracted to, but it is gone. they come in the house every year and get into food like cockroaches, also. also seem to like the damp areas and are always on our patio by the back door. this year is worse than ever!

i would like to stay organic, but i don't think it is going to work. i will try other forums.

has anyone used ecobran from gardens alive (?) or planet natural (?) i know it is for crickets but i wondered if it would kill earwigs since it is for chewing mouthpart insects attracted to bran (they are very attracted to catfood).

    Bookmark   June 7, 2005 at 11:52PM
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squeeze(z8 BC)

sounds like the bran would help also Safers Soap - and trapping can be effective - good luck gettin rid of'em, that really is a bother! their attraction to compost is partly that it provides a moist organic environment for them - also they are part of the compost predator community and feed on other compost critters


    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 1:00AM
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Paul James of Gardening by the Yard made a trap of a plastic soda bottle with the top cut off and inverted back into the bottle baited with tuna cat food. The earwigs crawl in and can't find their way out.

you can try these as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: ew! earwigs

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 10:11AM
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thanks! is there anything known to man that will repel them from my plants. they have now moved on to my young passionflower vine, as well.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 7:48PM
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sallym(z4 MN)

put tuna fish cans out filled with 2/3 vegetable oil and 1/3 soy sauce. bury the cans so the rim of the can is level with the ground. empty often.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 11:02PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

I realize that you're having problems. But I'd like to know more about what "mowed it down" and "decimated" mean, this because neither describes the precise sort of damage.

Earwigs make very small, very raggedy holes. Is that the sort of decimating you are referring to?

If not, can you tell us more deatils? Helpful are what parts of the plants are damaged.

Then what sort of damage? If holes, what size, also on the edge or in the middle of the leaves? Include the veins or not?

Yes, those are a lot of questions. The problem here is that you can see the damaged plants but we can't.

Please understand that I'm just trying to help narrow down the list of potential culprits so that you can afind a suitable remedy.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 1:52AM
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hello. when i say decimated it means they completely ate my chamomile plant. completely. the other plant is barely possessing a leaf. i have a small vegie garden of which the seedlings are all nearly gone. of 10 sunflower seedllings i have about 3 left. those that were eaten were munched away to the stem. my cucumbers are gone. meaning- all of the leaf is eaten and a stem is left. my carrots are gone. i watched the earwigs mining away on the fleshy squash leaves' tops. these leaves are thick, so eventually they left holes. i noticed a greenbean sprout yesterday afternoon. it looked wonderful. by last night, the leaves were munched away until very little remained attached to the stem.

chewing pattern: from the edges and holes. no webbing pattern, though. basically, almost all of the above but all i ever see are earwigs. i am not exaggerating when i say they cover the seedlings. they are so thick they are practically on top of each other. i am sorry that i can't describe the size of the holes any better. you see, the damage is worse each day. coffee grounds were sprinkled in an attempt against slugs.

somthing else of a curiosity of mine: we had a good rain yesterday. it has been very dry here. last night there were fewer earwigs on my plants. did the rain have someithing to do with this? were they eating my plants more for water content? however, i still have other plants they were on last night that they were not on before, including the loss of my less than a day-old greenbean sprout.

thanks. i am very frustrated, so please do not take anything i say the wrong way. i also see the high numbers of earwigs i have, where they are, and what they are doing. i am sure they are not alone in the munch fest but they are definitely the major contributor.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 11:07PM
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lilyroseviolet(Maine 4and 5)

I just want to give you a hug and hope you are able to stay organic and continue. (((((((hugs)))))))

    Bookmark   June 9, 2005 at 11:29PM
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Remember that your plants are much less susceptible to insect and disease damage if they are healthy and planted in healthy soil. It takes several years to build up good soil. Also, if you are patient, sometimes another predator moves in and helps you in a natural way. Last year I handpicked japanese beetles and noticed that after a little while the purple martins were helping me. There was a little damage, but not so much to hurt the crop noticably.

For instance, there were holes on the okra leaves, but none on the okra itself. The plants were in good soil and withstood the onslaught.

Some years are just bad for some things. Last year I couldn't grow lettuce well. this year is wonderful. Remember to plant successively. Bug populations grow on a bell curve and later plantings might do ok. I always plant yellow squash in intervals because some of the early ones get taken by bugs sometimes. Rip em out and plant something else for now.

What's the saying. Plant one for the birds, ...and one for me???

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 9:56AM
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I have no solution for your problem, but I can offer moral support. I've been tempted to pick up the Ortho products many times in the past. To deter myself, I keep a small bottle of Ortho Weed B Gone in my garage in plain sight. I taped to it a picture of 4 baby Robins that hatched in my yard last year. Knowing that the mom was pulling worms out of my lawn to feed them helps me keep perspective. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 12:26PM
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lilyrv, i have the responses sent to my email. let me say, that i opened my email and thank you for the smile.
everyone is so supportive, thanks to all here!

mid_tn_mama, my initial plan was successive planting. that is part of the "i quit". it just doesn't seem worth it if they are going to be eaten or worth my sanity. i have such a small vegie garden, maybe 10 by 10. one plant loss makes a significant difference. i was also going to go squarefoot/lasagna by next year. this was my dry run. i planted all seeds, including the litlle carrot seeds, individually. it seems i have a better chance with overplanting b/c of the pests.

rudy, i sprayed with a concoction of red pepper/garlic/cedar oil/bay leaf/clove/dish soap solution right after our rain. just before i did, i saw all the worms out from the extra moisture and was afraid to spray. as worms do, they scooted into their tunnels, so i hope it was alright.
i have a large order on the way from planet natural, also to include a foreseen whitefly invasion that i usually get. since the earwigs want to eat catfood, perhaps they will take the ecobran. i also have beneficials on teh way before i get an aphid problem. really couldn't afford it, but it needs to be done. what i thought were overgrown aphids are actually boxelder nymphs! thank you, extension service and master gardeners!
i still have arguments at home, however. dh is all about chemicals for instant relief. i like the spiders, but now the interior of the house is sprayed. i know that more earwigs will come in. they also get in our coupboards! as far as weeds, i fear dh will lose his patience by next year and spray the whole lawn. i got him to leave out weedkiller all last year (i think, i know he won't tell me if he does), but now he is spraying individually for weeds. i have corn gluten but i always forget to apply until too late. creeping charlie will take over from the neighbors by next year, i am afraid, so hopes for toads will be gone :(

again, thanks all for the help and support.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 9:58PM
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since we have been having some rain, i went ahead and planted a few replacement seeds. if it happens again, i just don't know...

if growth tips are chewed off as well as the first set of true leaves, would a seedling still grow more? my sunflwers usually dont. all remaining seedlings now look very dead. no vegies left except a tomato plant and popcorn.

i have learned that earwigs are not bothered by cedar or coffee. i filled my squirrel feeder for the first time in over a month. that night, they were eating away at the sunflower seeds. it is a cedar box. my cedar oil spray gave no residual effects and it may have even contributed the the further death of my seedlings. i don't know whether it did or not, or if the earwigs finally did them in. they were all only 2 inches tall with no more than true leaves. the squash had not even developed true leaves yet.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 10:27PM
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ruth_12(z5 MA)

Maybe there is some plant that earwigs are not interested in that you could plant so you could at least grow something. I am afraid I dont know what that is. I had terrible problems in my back yard with slugs (luckily not the front yard as not so shady). I planted potatoes and onions there which the slugs seem to have no interest in so at least I have something. Or are earwigs non discriminating eaters? Perhaps someone else has the experience to say.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 12:09AM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

Robert Rodale use to recomend gathering several of the offending bugs and running them through the blender with a bit of water. Then spray them back on the area and plants you want to protect.
I don't know if it works with earwigs.... just something I remember. It works for me on a true bug that gets on my pommegrantes.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 4:34PM
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If seedlings are being eaten by some unknown bug, I'd first start them in pots and then plant them out surrounded by a plastic strip from a 2 ltr bottle to protect them from cutworms and slugs. I'd sprinkle eggshells within and around the seedlings with the "collars" around them to prevent slugs. Pull back the mulch when you plant the seedlings. Slugs love to hide in mulch. Mulch later when the seedlings are bigger and less susceptible to slugs and cutworms. Good luck. I'm "rooting" for ya!!

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 4:57PM
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thanks for those tips! however, earwigs climb right over. also, i have found the earwigs eating the dead earwigs. maybe ground earwigs will work in a distraction sort of way. or, atttract them more? they are already there anyway.

did my earwig patrol last night. speaking of plants that earwigs may leave alone: they had totally left my popcorn alone until the last couple of days. now that the tenders are not there, popcorn and my passionflower are on teh menu. my echinacea also look awful, but since i am not trying to eat it, i just think of it as a place to find the nasty creatures and drop them into my soapy water.

i will try to rmember to time my mulch better. if mulch would help them sprout jsut to attract diners, then what good is it until later, eh?

thank you so much for these suggestions! anxiously waiting for my planet natural order to come...

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 8:47PM
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jcin_los_angeles(z10, Sunset 22,)

I had the same problem in my organic garden about 10 years ago. And yes, they will eat plants. Here's what I did to greatly reduce the earwig population:

1. Go out at night with a flashlight and either spray them with soap or, if they are up on a plant, try to tip them into a wide mouthed jar and then put the lid on. For some reason they would hide in nasturtium flowers, and I spent hours tipping them into those jars.

2. Look for their nests. I finally found, by looking at what was happening after I watered, that they were nesting in the crevices where the raised bed timbers joined. Disgusting!! Hundreds of them. I literally poured soap spray in there to kill them.

3. Some people have success in trapping earwigs with rolled newspapers. Try it. You then tip them into a bucket of soapy water. (For some reason my earwigs didn't fall for that trick.)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 1:03AM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Wow...isn't having that many earwigs unusual? I barely ever see more than a handful in any one season. I am almost tempted to ask if you are sure they are earwigs, but they are so easy to identify, I can't imagine you made a mistake.

Since I have never had that problem, I can only agree with JC, that to find out where they are nesting is a good idea. I always found that the only places I found earwigs, was in damp dark places, like the crevices of the raised beds JC talks about. Do you have a lot of sunny areas or a lot of shade?

Does anyone know what kind of predator likes earwigs?

If they are hiding in your compost, does that mean you are using a "cold pile" method of just collecting and not actively composting? If you actively compost, I would think it would be too hot for them. Maybe you could stop composting for a year. Or, are you using a compost container or a loose pile. I have both. One large chicken wire round with grass clippings and leaves and two black plastic composters for kitchen waste layered with yard waste. I bought the container ones from the town who offers them at reduced prices. They were only $25. each. I got them because I hadn't saved food scraps in a long time, since I had mice nesting in a loose pile. The container, has a plastic piece on the bottom that has holes for small insects but no way for a small animal to get into it. Maybe this would be better for you. I've had compost piles for many years and never noticed any earwick problem and I compost cold, come to think of it, so WHY are you getting so many...?? Very strange, there must be some reason.

As for earwigs coming into the house, I have read recently about laying a line of borax around any entry points of your foundation or around doorways.

You are under a lot of pressure and this may be the source of how frustrated you feel. If you have someone in your home who is more of a chemical advocate, then you are pressured to succeed quickly so they will not be inclined to say see...you need to do it my way.

Try committing yourself to your new organic decision no matter what and tell your husband that and maybe you will feel less pressured. You are really trying hard, that is clear. You seem to have a LOT of pest issues to deal with all at once, and no plants to nurture and care for to offset all that effort.

If I were you, I would try to resolve the earwig problem before I started planting any more replacement plants. Collect lots of bottles and lay as many bottles as you can for traps. If you think they are nesting in the compost right now, then I would go after them in the compost pile and break it down if necessary. Better to have to use organic fertilizer and go without compost for a year or two and get rid of their home. But make sure that is the only place they are nesting.

You will have an organic garden, just stick with it. Keep posting and it would help everyone here to help you better if you post a little bit more background about your garden and yard and how long you have been gardening, what you are trying to grow, what else is growing in your yard, do you have any neighboring pest attractants, like wetlands or anything like that? Unless maybe you have posted that before and I haven't seen it. I haven't been to this forum in awhile and haven't yet read many posts.


    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 5:14AM
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adam, i will do my best to describe my area. i am calmer now, so maybe i can do this. i am not sure of the dimensions of my backyard.

first, we have a concrete patio. i always find them pretty heavy around the house foundation and the patio/lawn edge even when we don't use the outside light. funny, if you go out with a flashlight the run from you, but are attracted to the doorway light. there are more when the light is on. sometimes i even leave the light on to attract them to the house so i can squish them to smithereens with my shoes. they like to play dead, you know. i believe one of their daytime hiding places are b/t the sod and concrete.

bed #1 for reference: from the patio along the corner of the house i have a 3 yr old perennial bed in nearly full sun. no cedar mulch has gone into this one. the air conditioner is also there. we have had earwigs actually get in b/t the c/a contacts and fry the connection. found that out after having to call an electrician. perhaps the dripping water from the c/a also attracts, not sure. now, i do have earwig problems in here, but not as extreme b/c i am not trying to grow food in there. if they eat my perennials, so be it (maybe) because this is a fact of life and i am not depending on them to produce. *they love "kiss me over the garden gate" i had tried to find out for 2 years why this self seeding annual does so poorly and gets so eaten. now i know. i think of my earwig eaten perennials as a place to find earwigs and kill them, so i deal with this ok. my phlox is just too bushy to find them in. oh, this is a west exposure.

across the yard to the west is a wooden privacy fence (i know that this does not help regarding earwigs. definitely attracted to it). here is an approx. 4x4 square of iris, echinacae, lavendar. due to the fence, it is an east and south exposure. this particular echinacea is lacy due to so many earwigs. gives them hiding places and dine gluttonously on this one. i have another across the yard that is affected by half the damage. very significant difference. what i cannot believe, either, is that they are eating my lavendar buds. lavendar is supposedly known for insect repellant qualities.

this 4x4 section borders my vegie garden. probably why this 4x4 gets hit so hard. full sun to part sun (?). the vegie is @ 10x10. the north border of the veggie butts up to the shed. there is an approx 1x8 section b/t the shed and fence where there is deep shade and likely harbors earwigs. funny, i just thought of that. this year i did raised rows in an attempt to start lasagna and square foot gardening, but at this time it does not conform. the rows are raised b/c i addded topsoil. there is some composted leaves b/t the rows to keep my shoes clean. i am sure they hide in there. i would rather not have to remove organic matter from my garden. that sounds contradictory to me. they haven't touched my oregano and cilantro yet, but they did start on my dill. even herbs are not safe! marigolds are eaten! even the tomato plant and now the popcorn which have a tough or stinky leaf. i really do not notice them in the shed during the day, so i don't know if that contributes. again, this is the first year i ever seen them so bad. i usually lose a couple of sunflowers each year. never had these numbers before. oh, this vegie garden area laid fallow until i moved in 6 years ago. i don't overplant and i rotate "crops." i also don't always plant the same thing. my regulars are tomatoes and sunflowers( besides the herbs mentioned). this is only the second year i planted beans or carrots (last time was 4 years ago). planted winter squash 2 yrs in a row now, but of diff varieties and rotated. popcorn, first time but had done sweet corn once three yrs ago.

i seemed to have an overload of slugs. perhps that is why the earwigs pop cycled so high this year. however, a slug and earwig were "socially dining" together last night.

now, as i said, the north border of the vegie is the shed. in front of this shed (east side and entrance)receiving east exposure, is 2 hostas (earwig haven?) also, this small border (1x5?) is my schizandra berry vine on an attached homemade trellis system. i am attempting to grow passionflower here, but the small vine keeps getting eaten. i usually try cardinal flower vine. they are getting eaten. on the other end of this is the lamb's ears. this is another that i cannot believe the earwigs are eating so much.

on the north side of the shed is another perennial bed. what cedar mulch is left has broken down from 6 years ago. there are few plantings in here b/c it was a shade garden until a large tree was cut. it is now full sun. it runs the north edge of the shed and is @6x10. i have a rock path the long way leading to a small @15 gal pond in construction with larger rocks to build a fall. i wondered if this water attracted more earwigs,, but i see few around there. there is also a border with pavers, as is the border in front of the shed. here is where my other echinacea resides that is bothered less by earwigs, but does ahve them. i do know that when the blooms open, earwigs like to hide in teh bristles. they are still in formation stage. i have another lavendar where earwigs are dining on the flowers. i also have a potted hardy and native prickly pear. earwigs are eating its flesh as well! most of the other plants in here show little if any damage from earwigs or other. the wooden fence is also along the back edge as it extends the length of both gardens and the shed. i have a honeysuckle growing on the fence with no damage found. approx 10 feet north of the bed is an old concrete pad with LOTS of rocks waiting on there. full to part sun. this is @ 4-5 feet from the northern border of the yard. we shall now travel east:

along the fence, we come to our garbage cans about 5 feet from where we turned. next to that is:

a cold compost composTumbler. it is enclosed and i see few earwigs, if any, in here. 2 feet east of that is a maple tree. if you continue walking east you will be on a path between the fence and garage going to the front yard. here, at the tree, we will turn back south along the garage which is connected to the house. @5 feet on our journey we come to a new bed where i planted ligonberries and attempted to add topsoil and peatmoss at planting time. it is somewhat raised. here, my chamomile plants used to be before they succumbed to earwig feasting and finally died. there is a little mulch on here. earwigs dine a little on the ligons, but also hide there. i also catch earwigs off the walls of the house/garage. western exposure and usually dry. this bed is about 4 feet and we are back on the patio. all areas not mentioned in the back yard are lawn.

i did have 2 potted blueberries, small, on the patio until i thought they were being sunburned. i now realize that what looks like sunburn is earwig damage. my tomato leaves have "brown out spots" from where they eat on them. my ligons which have a thicker leaf has a similar spot or two. i did the math.

while i walk around at night with my pitcher of soap water and flashlight, i also collect earwigs off the house. i use their defense mechanism against them. they like to drop off when disturbed, so i hold the pitcher touching the wall, but an inch or so underneath, lightly touch the wall with the pitcher, and they fall in. siding is vinyl. i do this on the entire perimeter of the house. oh, i also find them trying to eat my hydrageas. i have one in the house border mentioned first. others in fronyard. the tougher leaves also show that brown spot from earwigs.

if further info is needed for the front(east exposure of house) and south(house) beds i will provide. but, i think i feel carpal tunnel coming on :)

note: also regarding the bed (#1) that was mentioned first. it ends at the south corner of the house. i have some large rocks behind and along the house, and a small section of chainlink prevents entry to the backyard. here, tto the east is the south bed in full shade due to a maple tree. again, i have an earwig problem here in bed #1, but it could be worse. there are lots of holey leaves, but no deformities and blooms are present.

i hope this is written coherently. it is hard to describe a lay out.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 9:11PM
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ok, i don't need moral support. i now admit i have a problem. i need counseling for obsessive/compulsive disorder! the last 2 nights i have been outside killing earwigs until sunup!

now that my seedlings are gone, i have shifted my focus. mentioning the wood fence jiggled something in my brain. so, last night i go toward the fence. before i get there, i see earwigs that appear to be dining on bird poop on a rock. never saw that before, but hey, someone must clean it up or we would all be whitewashed. anyway, on the fence receiving east exposure, it looks like treated wood b/c it is so green from a fine mosslike substance. it doesn't stand off the wood, jsut gives it a green color. as i went down the fence there were hundreds of them. at the corner, the neighbor used to hang a birdfeeder which he removed about a month ago. as i got there, the fence looked like a cockroach infested slum they were so thick! more and more as i got to the corner. there, the corner used to be literally whitewashed from the birds. i spent hours walking and backtracking spraying them all individually with soapy water. the reserve forces kept coming from the other side of the fence! i looked like one of the ducks in a shooting gallery. also, this is the far end of the fence away from the vegies (thank goodness).

also, had a close call. i was about to spray some stuff on my echinacea when, at the last minute, realized i was shining my flashlight on a sleeping bumblebee. that would have been terrible!

i tried to spread my ecobran last night, but after walking the entire yard with my spreader, i realized the moisture from the grass clogged it up and nothing had come out. i did sprinkle it in my gardens and along the fence, though.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 8:41PM
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So you think the bird droppings are what have attracted them in such huge numbers? I hope you can get them under control!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 10:36PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi again...

how short do you mow your grass? How often do you water? Do you use a sprinkler and water overhead? I am trying to use soaker hoses just around the base of the plants to cut down on watering all the places where weeds grow. This could help you keep your yard drier. Did you get a lot of rain, is your yard more shade/part shade than sun? If there are mosses growing, it would seem so.

The full sun bed should be the last place to find them. The water dripping from the air conditioner is probably attracting them. We have a window unit that drips as it is supposed to when running. Is yours a whole house unit and is it just normal dripping or a leaky connection? If it is a leaky connection I would fix it right away. If it is normal dripping, why not try putting a plastic dish pan under the drip to catch it and see if this stops attracting them to that area, or maybe even attracts them and you can dispose of them.

Kiss me over the garden gate...haven't grown that one, but isn't that a very dense thick plant that branches down to the ground? I would suspect that is the reason..it is providing a shady damp location under the plant for the earwigs. If so, you can trim it up and thin it out,
and see if that makes a difference. Since they are eating it, maybe they like it though.

The bed with echinacea, etc. would you say this is also part shade? How close are you planting the plants and how much are you watering?

The veggie bed is not full sun? How many hours of direct sun does this location get?

Sounds like you are doing a LOT of things right..not overplanting, rotating crops, adding organic material to the veggie garden, composting. MY gosh, isn't it frustrating to do so many things right and have this stupid little earwig be getting the upper hand.

Aha! You say you have an overload of slugs. This is a clue. I rarely have a slug in my yard either. Slugs like similar conditions that earwigs like. Damp, shady areas.

Your shed area...also part shade, hostas...slug and earwig heaven.

Your garbage cans...are they ever near there and are they covered and locked down? Does rain collect on the tops?

Great that you have a contained compost bin. Tumbler is even better.

About the liginberry bed and the wall so the house/garage that is western exposure that you say is usually dry. I have a western exposure bed right along side my house. It is in shade until 11am. What about yours? I also raised my beds a little and they drain well and stay pretty dry.

You mention your siding is vinyl. Is there any chance that it was not installed well or has had damage and allows water to get under the siding and wet the wood under it?
Maybe you know a carpenter or can call a vinyl siding person and ask some questions?

Bed #1 with the large rocks in full shade...another great place for slugs and earwigs. Good place for traps.

Ahhhh! The fence with the green mosslike substance. Sounds again, like a LOT of moisture and shade. An eastern exposure...my eastern exposure gets 2,and 4 hrs of sun and no more. So you saw hundreds as you walked along the fence? Were they on the fence?

Bingo! the corner where the birdfeeder was may be most of your problem. Because even though you have lots of shady/part shade areas of your yard, unless you are watering too much and keeping it really damp, I still can't imagine you would draw such an overpopulation from them. It could be that this area where the birdfeeder was has been a perfect breeding ground for them and then they branch out from there.

You also saw them coming over the fence from the neighbor's yard. Are you friendly with the neighbor, can you ask them about the problem? Do they have other feeders in their yard that are attracting a lot of birds? Is the area near your fence shady, damp or overgrown on their side of the fence?

Okay, so I have done a google search for you typing in "organic earwig control" and posted below a few that I found. My comments on how what I found might apply to you.

Diatomaceous earth is also sold in Pool shops as it is used for swimming pool filters. If you use this or borax, think about using a dust mask on your face and don't breathe it in. I don't think it is toxic but I was just thinking of the particle size is so small it can get in your lungs when you are applying it. I do that when mixing perlite in my potting mix too.

According to one of those articles...NOW is the time to work on control... late June to July. Just when you are trying to get your veggie garden started.

Looks like trapping is the way to go. Especially in that area where the birdfeeder was. Also if there is any leftover bird residue, I would clean that up with a hose and rinse it down good, even if it makes the area a little wetter for awhile.

I don't know about the disposal in gasoline??! That sounds unnecessary to me and how are you supposed to dispose of a container of gasoline filled with bugs? Another article suggests soapy water..I would second that. Maybe something with a cover. Maybe add alcohol to the mix or a few drops of oil.

Keep at it with the traps. If you can get rid of the majority of these earwigs this year, you will have them under control next year and have an easier time of it. I would think the traps are a better idea then losing your sleep hand picking them all night. Let the traps do the work for you and get your sleep so you can have the energy to fight these buggers. Maybe though, I would be very tempted to try vacuuming them up with a handheld dustbuster as one of the articles suggest. Maybe go out every night just as it gets dark and spend a half hour doing that in addition to the traps until you can significantly reduce the population.

Also, if you stay away from chemical solutions, it sounds like small flys are predators of them, and such an overpopulation of them would have to attract some of those. So try not to kill any flies around the yard. After such a bad year, the next few years might find the parasitic flies are helping you control them.

Converting the backyard to a dry, sunny environment with few hiding places will also help control earwigs. Remove any shelter sites, prune low-growing bushes, avoid growing the earwigs' favored food plants, and destroy moss and algae. Avoid overwatering and don't use thick organic mulches

This sounds like great advice too.

Earwig Control: Since earwigs seldom fly, a favorite control method is spreading diatomaceous earth \[ borax from a pharmacy is I think as good as\] where they are apt to crawl. Make applications in late spring about a week apart, and treat the soil around the foundations of houses, along walks, fences, and around trees. Botanical insecticides should be used as spot treatments or crack and crevice sprays. 


Organic Earwig Control
Earwigs can really be a menace and to know how to effectively control them organically you must first know their life cycle. Here in Canada the earwig over winters as an adult in nests that is made in cracks and crevice, under rock and boards around the yard. The female lays a portion of her eggs in the fall. In the spring she will finish laying her eggs in the nests she has created. In late March to April, depending on how warm it gets, the males leave the nest. This is why early in the year one will see a few large earwigs. The female will remain in the nest and care for the eggs and the hatched young until late June to July. At this time the young earwigs and the females will leave the nests looking for food. This is the time of year when most people find that earwigs are a problem. This then is the time to focus on controlling them.

Try to confirm the life cycle with your area Dept. of Agriculture knows about when the females open up the nests. The most effective way to control earwigs without insecticides is the use of trapping. Again knowing the insects habit makes the use of traps fairly effective. Earwigs are night creatures. They feed and move about in the dark. During the daytime they will find areas to hide from the light. Any small crevice or container makes great daytime homes. Traps should be set in the evenings and collected in the morning to remove the captured insects. The best types of traps that seem to work well are: corrugated cardboard; Rolled up magazines or newspapers; small cans with openings punctured in the ends.
Make sure holes are large enough to let the earwig in. tubing such as bamboo rods. Two pieces of wood with groves cut and taped together. When collecting the traps, make sure they are collected each day in the mornings. Dispose of the earwigs in a container of diesel fuel or gasoline. This will kill the insects quickly. When placing traps, make sure they are placed in and under shrubs and other dark hiding places that the earwigs would like to stay. Place the traps when the nests are opened up later in the summer. People that report failures with traps result from setting the traps too early. They operate the traps and find that no or very few earwigs are caught. They then stop trapping and when June/July comes earwigs by the "hundreds" are found and they think the traps were not successful. "Wrong" just poor timing and not working along with the earwigs life cycle

Earwigs congregate in areas that are shaded or filled with lush plant material, boards, debris, or organic mulch. Exposed, sunny yards have fewer problems. Two species of parasitic fly, including Digonichaeta setipennis, have been introduced to help control earwigs naturally. In good years these parasites attack and kill over 1/3 of the earwig population.   
You can trap earwigs in rolled up newspapers or in old tuna fish cans baited with fish oil or vegetable oil. Place traps near the problem areas and check them each morning. Shake live insects into a pail of soapy water to kill them.   
Converting the backyard to a dry, sunny environment with few hiding places will also help control earwigs. Remove any shelter sites, prune low\-growing bushes, avoid growing the earwigs' favored food plants, and destroy moss and algae. Avoid overwatering and don't use thick organic mulches. 

If earwigs are getting into your home, caulk cracks and crevices and weather-strip doors to prevent their entry. Check windows, the junction of the siding with the foundation, and all outdoor water faucets for openings that earwigs can squeeze through. Remove firewood, unneeded plant material, and organic mulches from the foundation area. Create a clean, dry border along the foundation and consider replacing wood chips or bark mulch with stones or other material that will be less attractive to earwigs. Clear debris and leaves from the troughs of eaves.
Individual earwigs found indoors may be vacuumed or killed by hand. Sealing or caulking openings is a more effective and permanent approach. Earwigs will not breed indoors, so continual problems suggest constant migration from outside.

[Also another good idea bout the gravel borders around areas they congregate if there are places this will look good to you]

I wanted to point out to you also that at least here in New England it has been one of the wettest dampest springs in many years. 20 days of measureable rain in May. This is prime environment for earwigs. 

I hope this helps. I am very sorry that you are having this problem and I hope you can get to the bottom of it and start to feel like you have it under control. 

I understand how you feel. I had an area where I was going to install raised beds for veggies for the first time in a long time and had to abandon my plans when I discovered when I removed the brush pile on the top that under it was a rampant perennial weed that doesn't respond well to digging it out. I've had to mulch the whole area and leave it for at least a year to smother it out. Growing a few tomatoes, a summer squash and peppers eggplant in containers for this year. Here is one more idea. Have you ttried planting out and covering with a row cover material? Would that keep them off your plants long enough to get them growing? 

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 9:08AM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

In case you didn't see the other post in the forum..

Here is a link that might be useful: Getting rid of earwigs

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 9:22AM
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vstech(z7 Charlotte)

I saw this in another post:
RE: Getting rid of earwigs

* Posted by: Kimmsr 4a/5b-MI (My Page) on Mon, May 23, 05 at 17:32

Most likely earwigs are not your problem.

Here is a link that might be useful:

Here is a link that might be useful: Earwigs

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 11:20AM
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carolinakate, i am not reall;y saying the bird poop is the cause, but certainly adds to it.

hello, adam. dh mows the grass, can't really say how short but if it starts looking too long for a golf course he is ready to mow. 2-3 times a week in growing weather. when it gets hot and dry it doesn't get mown as much b/c grows slower. not scalped though, just trim,neat-look. we don't water the lawn and i rarely water the vegie garden or flowerbeds. i do have a soaker hose. i shouldn't say rarely! if i am trying to sprout seeds i TRY to keep the seeded (area only) moist. i have ran my soaker maybe twice since i planted. not since, since things are gone. now, i water my tomato individually. we had some rain, but now it is dry again. that really doesn't describe things well,huh.

mosses are not growing in the backyard where my major problem is- only on the fence not on the ground. the yard gets sun from prenoon to afternoon in diff areas. basically, full sun to part shade for vegies.

as is yours, ours is c/a whole house unit, so it has to drain. i thought that could be a problem for that area. this is across the yard from the vegies. just another contributing factor to the big picture, i suppose. i used to let it drip so i could get young plants a better start with the moisture. i will certainly try the saucer thing (if i can fight the jungle of daylilly :) )

i don't know if the kiss me....plant is thick. mine isn't. i get a short stalk here and there. they are only 6 inches tall right now. they only got 2-3 feet tall last year. supposed to be larger. i think this section of the border gets more shade than the c/a end, so that is probably why they remain small? my sweet alyssum "mat" that forms certainly gives them hiding places. could you be thinking of love lies bleeding? that i did grow one year. it is exactly as you described. it got so heavy i had to stake it up.

echinacea bed in #1, planted too close. full sun to part sun. i do not water it, i let nature do it. loads of iris that needs to be thinned. this is on the south edge of the veggie at the start of the wooden fence. the other one is in a full sun garden (approx) that is sparsely planted b/c it used to be shade till the tree was cut and turned my shadeplants into french fries. however, at this time of year, my shade plants that are there are up close and personal with this plant as well. this is the plant that has less earwig damage and is north of the shed. it does not sit as close to the fence as the other one.

i always thought m;y veggie bed is full sun, except for right next to the shed. it receives reflected light off of the shed south wall as well (light colored, not dark). i have never measured or stuck around long enough to time the sun. i know it is in sun prenoon. i work afternoons and is still sun when i leave at 2:30 and longer. at 7 am, the sun is starting to encroach on the shade and get over the trees. we have maple trees all over the neighborhood that casts shade.

frustrating? YOU KNOW IT!

unfortunately, i like plants. so i plant things that end up sheltering the "uglies" my plastic garbage cans are never near my gardens. the covers are snapped down, and all year they have been pretty much empty. no water collecting.

i will have to check on when the sun hits the ligonberry bed. even though there is a maple tree there, it gets pretty hot and dry. beds are somewhat raised b/c i added to the existing soil. next year will probably be settled some. i am rarely in the backyard prenoon. if i am not asleep (stay up all night) i am at school come fall semester or an appointment. since i cannot see it from the kitchen window, it is out of mind. i will have towork on this one.

the siding doesn't appear to be wet. our gutters drain well and away from the house. but, lots of hiding places behind the siding! things are slowing down around the house perimeter (dh chemical man). good suggestion! it was just installed last year or the year before. this section is also an addition (along the ligon bed). slab foundation though!

yes, the earwigs were on the fence in the green mossy stuff. there isn't any substance to it, but that is what it has to be. athey appeared to be eating it. the further to the corner you got, where the feeder used to sit, the thicker the earwigs got. i couldn't believe the numbers. there is also 2 cedar trees along here on the neighbors side. one thing i noticed, cedar doesn't faze them a bit. i ahven't seen their side of the fence, but next time i get a chance i have been wanting to talk to him about it. i don't believe he has any other feeders up. i overheard him about a month ago to the other neigbor that the birds ate his pepper plants so he took the feeder down. hmmmmmmmmmm. birds, or are they just the scapegoat.

oh, i have a sadistic joy when i have my soapy water :) they twist and contort nicely. sounds terrible, but true. i would never cause pain to anything really, unless it is a cockroach, slug,, tick or earwig. i even tried to save an earthworm that was in the wrong place at the wrong time and ws trying to high tail it out of there. (soapy water). i rinsed it off and let it go in the grass(no worries from sun 1 am). i ahve some diatomaceous earth. i don't think i will do the dustbuster. i am suspicious that my spray bottle is waking up one of the neighbors young children. they had their windows open.

i am finding some small ones at this time. i hpe this is the last phase. the males i found definitely look like the european species. we ahve all kinds of crevices where the ground pulls away from teh foundation and patio. i have always known this as a problem, but i never knew the fence issue (never had to). i jsut know my neighbor is going to look at me like i am nuts. i also think he overheard me negatively remarking about his tree-topping (cutting off the entire top), so we shall see his reaction. i found a couple of dead earwigs when i went out last night. i am hoping it is from the ecobran. but, today, dh told me he sprayed the fence (ortho wicked stuff). so, it may not be from the ecobran. i received this from plantet natural. it contains 2% cabaryl. i read the label and got concerned about effects. but, at 2% should't be too bad, i hope. i am not sure how moisture affects it. it is a flake from grain type flour for the earwigs to munch. i only shook it in the beds and not the grass (spreader clogged b/c grass to long right now and dewpoint). oh, they also eat the dead earwigs that are lying around. i don't know if soapy water death or ecobran consumee remains to kill the consumer.
i heard about the introduction of the parasite in california for european earwigs. don't know about illinois. i do believe we ahve had one of he DRIEST springs. i wondered if that was the problem- needing moisture so lush greens provided.

good idea with row cover material until they can get big enough to withstand an onslaught. i ahve been running this through my head on a design that they wouldn't get through. it would need to be individual covers on a frame i think. i saw the cloth to keep out "moths." i am skeptical that anything could keep an insect off a plant.

thank you so much, you have been very helpful and understanding, not scoffing, etc...

i ahve been following the other thread as well. good luck on getting a garden going where you wnat it.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 10:15PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Yes...you described it fine... :-) Sounds like you are keeping your grass a good height and not watering too much so I wouldn't think you were creating some problem there.

As for your sun/part sun conditions. I have a similar yard. Maples all over the neighborhood and more part shade than full sun. I have done some thinking and planning on about the sun recently as we were renovating and adding new shrubs. I have very few places with "full sun". I used to think 6 hrs was full sun, but I was corrected by others that full sun is more like 8-10 hrs of sun. I have mapped my yard basically a long time ago to see how much sun I get. Most of my yard gets about 3 -4 hrs of sun, which surprised me, I thought it was more. The part that is along the foundation of our house faces east and the sun doesn't hit it till between 11am and 12noon, but by 3-4pm the shade is already there. This year I mapped again in our back border which faces east and the sun is there early in the morning like 6:30am, but one corner directly under the dripline of a large silver maple is already in dappled shade a couple of hours later and half the border only gets 2 hrs of sun due to shade from trees. One good size section has sun till 11am. That is still only 4.5 hrs of sun. My veggies are in sun only 7 hrs and they do okay but that is just barely full sun. You will help yourself out a lot to take the time to measure the sun in different areas. It just means observing and recording the times the sun hits each bed and leaves each bed. This takes some time and is different at different times of year.

On the siding question...I was not thinking the siding was wet, but I wondered about UNDER the siding, you usually have the old wood siding and water can get under the vinyl siding if there is a problem. If your gutters are fine and water draining away from the house, then you are probably ok in that department.

My best guess would be that the area where the feeder and the fence with something green on it may be the problem areas for you. I can't think of any other suggestions. I hope something you try helps. If you continue to have problems, the only other thing I can think of is that you find some help locally. A nursery that is super helpful and might come out and take a look at your yard and advise you, a friend who gardens or a local group...a gardening group or master garden program. Here in Mass, we have lots of resources, the MASS Hort society, the New England Wildflower Society, etc. I have called a number of places and gotten lots of generous people's help. If you can't find somewhere locally, take some photos of your yard and the fence and the bugs and the damage and post them to the forum and maybe some experienced gardener can spot something you didn't. It is a puzzle. If you don't have a digital camera, I am pretty sure you can even get a disposable camera and have them develop it onto something that goes on the computer.

There are also a few other groups besides Garden Web. I have had help on Organic Gardening List a number of times. There is quite an experienced group there.

There is also a group called Gardening Organically. Again, some very knowledgeable and commited people on that list. If you do a Google search, you can locate both these groups.

The cover material can be placed around the bed and you can anchor it with soil all around it to attempt to keep the bugs out. I know it works for squash bugs. As a matter of fact, I think you have to take them off by the time they start blossoming because the bees can't get in to pollinate.

Hope that helps. You have my sympathies and just hope you can get on top of it soon.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 2:11AM
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regarding siding, we had the old asbestos tile siding (yikes). i believe we had that removed, then house wrapped with stuff that looks similar to landscape fabric that allows air and moisture to pass through. otherwise, insulation, osb or plywood (not sure which), and wall studs. not sure how to tell if it is wet without taking siding off. there are no telltale signs, so hopefully it is dry. our gutters are also new and we had cleaned them after the maple heli's dropped. hmmmmm. we have a drain incorporated into the patio when it was poured. the downspout enters at one of the inside house corners and runs through a pvc drain to the grass. hiding place? i just realized this could be a fair toad shelter...if only...

i dare say that the earwigs may have peaked and are now slowing down. but, i took the last 2 nights off from earwig patrol. i am sure cleaning off the moss from the fence would help. unsure about moss killers. personally, i like the looks of moss, so hopefullly there is a level "we" can compromise. i like rocks and the thought of a pond, so i have to take everything else with it if i decide to continue. i would like to think that this is just a "peak year" for earwigs and next year will be less, but it seems every year there is more, so it must be our lay out. i dread the thought of using chemicals in hopes that an amphibian will return to my yard (and other consequences)!

thanks for that tip on covering the fabric with dirt. i would think once things are ready to bloom they could withstand some earwig damage, especially if the numbers get under control. shhhhhhh, don't tell them, i now have 2 new sunflowers trying to grow, and the squash are starting to break the soil line. numbers do seem lower in the vegie area. my popcorn hasn't been damaged much more, and my good tomato has less visitors, i think.

my ligons received sun b/t noon and 1 today to start. shade was only from the eave of the house at noon (@ 1 ft.) and was gone by 1. off to work at 2:30, but i know the sun is very intense at this time of day. i rethought the vegie and the small flower area to its south edge. full sun, i am pretty sure. the east of the shed with the hostas get more sun this time of year, enough to burn the tips of the hostas, but not enough to grow nice lavendar. hostas give thick shady shelter though. i used to have ajuga until i saw how much the slugs loved it. it came out! takes over anyway.

i will admit that i have been lazy at mapping my yard. i don't like to conform. i just never got into those details and planted what would fall in between. now i pay for it. i am maturing: never was interested in starting a garden journal either until this year. for my poor memory from one year to the next, i need one to remind me when i should have done things, what i used, and when. scenario for next year: was it july or august that the earwigs pop exploded? :) this would also be a good place to add overlays of garden plans and sun exposure.

thank yo for all your help and the other organizations. i have 5 day short vacation this week. hope to get to work on some if these issues. i will also be away from the cpu.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 6:02PM
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this could be another flag, or a correlation anyway:

this year, i also have an overabundance of boxelder bugs. i have boxelder nymphs by the hundreds, if not thousands. i had never seen the nymphs before. the numbers i have made me collect some and take to the extension service for identification. this fall....

at this point, they don't bother me. i know they feed also be sucking plant juices (at least the nymphs), but the plants i have found them on do not show the effects. somehow, our yard became the perfect nursery.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 6:15PM
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zucchini(5a ONT)

WoW..what a post!! I read some, but there is toooo much to read..I do know that earwigs are in abuncance one year and not another...My plants are being eaten like crazy this year..the beans that finally have leaves..are chewed up, the basil..well forget about it, and I grew it indoors from seed along with my tomatoes..lettuce gone, cucumbers gone, zucchini leaves chewed, even my hot peppers have had their leaves chewed up..tonight I put out petri dishes of beer..so if it is slugs I will see them..last year I found that the earwigs drowned in the beer too...I sprinkle ashes on all the leaves and use a soapy/oil/water mixture...this is my worst year ever..all tomato plants have spots on their leaves or yellow, or curling...I refuse to use chemicals...but I do yell at the bugs..hey they don't hear me! I am ready to give up too..but have to put things in perspective. I plant veggies (over 120 tomato plants) because I love the process..I know I would miss doing it..and hopefully I will find what I can grwo with less problems. My garlic looks good...You are not alone...
;-) Martha/zucchini

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 8:18PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Hi fairy toadmother...

Sounds like you are doing a little better. :-) I just have to say that from your posts it is easy to see that you are very interested in your garden. And it sounds like you have a lot of energy to spend on it.

As for the mapping and the journal, I didn't do the mapping for quite awhile when I first started gardening and only when I found I was making mistakes with placement I finally did it. It is time consuming and you have to have a few sunny days to watch the patterns all day.

As for the journal, it is a great idea. I still don't keep one. *sigh* I know I should. I start one every once in awhile and then get distracted and busy and forget to keep it up. Well, thanks for the reminder...maybe it is time to pick up the old journal I started a few years back and try it again. See, you encouraged me to do better!

Keep plugging away and give yourself a pat on the back. You are a committed, hard worker and I hope it pays off for you. Enjoy your garden this year.


    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 5:12AM
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For some reason, perhaps unknowable, you have an imbalance in your garden environment. We had something like it 10 years ago when we started ours - slugs, slugs, slugs. We went outside every night for a couple of hours with a flashlight and bowl of soapy water. The numbers were overwhelming. Stick with it and your persistence will cut the population down to manageable levels. It might take a few seasons but you will succeed. In the meantime, work on creating a healthy soil.

I can't remember if someone pointed out that earwigs generally prefer eating decaying matter. So an overly clean garden can spur them onto your plants. Best of luck.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2005 at 4:05PM
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i can't believe i am such an idiot! i found a couple of nest or roost areas. at the south end of the fence on the veggie and 4x4 bed is a utility pole on the neighbors side of the fence. lucky for me, it is chainlink right there. i finally shined my flashlight into the deep, 3+feet long, and 1/8-1/4 inch wide crack. i thought about it before but was concentrating on my plants. now that things were seemingly getting under control, i found my refocus (i am sorry if i repeat myself).

i squirted my soapy water in there, and they just kept runnning out, seemingly endlessly AGAIN. now, i cannot believe my eyes: albinos! tell me they are just shedding their "skin"! actually, the pole was after my other idiotic move. on the north fence running east west dh has a deer target. i had dreaded opening that up! i moved it away from the fence and found the first albinos. opened up the deer and more hundreds of earwigs! i found a third SET of "albinos" were they had been feeding on the mossy part of the fence. i have NEVER seen any of these before. they were large, seemingly see-through, with black eyes. even the pinchers were white. no literature says anything about "queens" like termites. yikes!

adam, thank yo for saying i am a committed, hard worker. personally, i think it is more like obsessed and i need to be committed! i am a night person with no children, so these things are crawling around in my mind and i have to feel like i am doing someting about it! (had a nice mini bonfire the other day :) nope, not the fence, but idiot me with an old log 24x10" in my veggie area that i wanted to keep to grow mushrooms on. i really have gone over the edge. every earwig that was chased out with the hot flame was further seared with a hot poker at my hand! it slow burned for hours until i had to go in to bed. i almost got the marshmallows out. see what a day off from work can do for you?

organica, thank you for the support and fair warning to look for the less obvious!

i have my first set of true leaves on my new resewn cukes, squash, and sunflowers! they hadn't made it to this point until now. shhhhhhh YIPPPPEEEEEEEE! situation improving and hopeful!

thank you, everyone for the support! it has kept me from quitting.

i never did get the ecobran spread on the lawn, but i believe the sprinkling in the beds have helped along with the pickings. they definitely eat it, since the stuff is still in my spreader and there are dead earwigs that had crawled in there to feed. it is covered enough to keep my critters out, also.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2005 at 10:32PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Glad things are looking up. :-) It figures that there were some sort of major nests. Otherwise, it just didn't sound like you had any plants or moisture problems that would draw them in such numbers. I hope you can do something with the areas you found the nests in. Is there a possibility that you can "caulk" the crevices/cracks that they are nesting in?

Glad to hear you have growing veggies..[g] It would be a shame if you didn't get some benefit from the garden this year, after all your hard work. Glad you are hanging in there!


    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 4:28AM
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I've thought about you every time I see an earwig. I am so happy for you!

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 8:02AM
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carolinakate, how funny for my memory to live on in an earwig (did you smoosh it at the same time? :) that would leave it easy prey for the birds. i have actually seen the european house sparrows (whispered, of course, this "dirty word" in some circles) come down to the fence in the morning and eat the dead ones i sprayed. i began to worry about residual soap on their digestive systems. a major reason why i prefer no chemicals.

adam, i must thank you again for stating the "obvious." i would have never thought about caulking those cracks! it really helps to have someone pick my brain, as well. i have even taken the nights off from earwig patrol! now, that says a lot.

our indoor earwigs are increasing in numbers again, so i believe the other hatch is migrating. of course, this makes me keep an eye on leaves. it has been very hot here, so i try to observe from the kitchen window.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2005 at 11:22PM
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AdamM321(MA z5/6)

Fairytoadmother...if you are getting them in the house, I would bet there is some fairly obvious entry for them. Either they can come in under the door or there is a crack in the foundation or something. See if you can spend some time watching their coming and going to figure out where they are coming in. I did this with ants and didn't get any back this year. If you can figure it out, you can also caulk any obvious cracks and if it is under the kitchen door, you can add a metal sweeper to the bottom of the door that will keep them out. I also have heard other people say that laying that line of borax around the foundation or across the landing outside the kitchen door really made a difference. Do a Gardenweb search on borax and you can read some of the posts on the topic.

Take a walk around the foundation of your house and see if there is any evidence of insect entry or any obvious cracks in the foundation. Also, do you have plantings right up to the house? Try pruning back any shrub branches touching the house, etc.

With the ants...they can be attracted by crumbs or sugars or oils. With earwigs, I think it is moisture that attracts them. Could you have a leaky pipe anywhere? Water from the shower getting on the floor and seaping into the cracks on the floor? Damp towels? Moisture in the basement? We have no water in the basement, but in the summer it does get moist on the walls if we get a lot of rain, so we run a dehumidifier nonstop in the summer and are having to empty it every day.


    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 7:34AM
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Yes, of course I smash them! It's like eating all your food for the starving children in [name your mother's favorite country to cite]. "Don't let that earwig get away! Do you know what fairy_toadmother is going through with earwigs in Illinois?!"
Again, glad to hear things are getting under control.
Adam, I never thought to look for cracks in the house to caulk. You may have helped me solve my perennial ant problem!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 4:45PM
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lol!! K.

adam, we definitely have a moisture issue in the bathroom. mostly, we find them along the ceiling of all places (and the floor). they like to hitch a ride on the outside door so they can drop in when you open it. or, drop on your head which is always a joy. things are better though. the front door was one of their nests(?) or hiding spots in the crevice b/t the new siding and new storm door. i am sure the foundation/ concrete slab has entrance cracks. there is also the big gap in the back storm door step and doorway. oh, and that one is up about 6 inches from the patio with a metal sweeper. during the beginning of this dilemma, i was spraying here constantly with mixes of cedar, bay, etc. it only repelled my cat. it has been about a month and he still acts like he wants in but something is offending his nose :)

did i mention that i have another theory, speaking of ants? i understand that ants follow phermone trails or something like that. i honestly believe that earwigs do also! as an example, there is one spot by the (in the house) chair @ 4 feet up the wall. while sitting, one crawls up and we remove/kill the little *****. it isn't long before another is there. this goes on, and they are very consistent. so, i am sure they follow trails. there is nothing on this wall to attract them. i second the moisture as an attraction as well.

i wish i had a basement!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2005 at 10:49PM
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Miss_Mudcat(SE Indiana z5)

Dear fairy_toadmother,
I hope what I am about to say is not too repetative. I didn't read through all of the responses that you've gotten already, but I wanted to tell you about my similar experience and what I did to end it.

I lived in Wisconsin at the time, in an old (100 years) house with a slightly damp basement. I had my garden in the small sunny spot in my backyard, which was surrounded by lots of shade and dampness. I gardened organically, and as you know, mulch, mulch, mulch is the mantra! I agree that mulching is a VERY good thing, and I do it now that I live elsewhere, but one thing is certain - DO NOT USE MULCH when you have earwigs! You must clear out all mulch, and dust mercilessly with D.E. (Diatomaceous Earth). I don't know what your environment is like there, but you may never be able to use mulch. If you reduce the earwig population this year, I wouldn't recommend using mulch next year and perhaps only very cautiously the following year.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 11:45AM
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miss mudcat, thank you, you are very right, it seems! they had been leaving my strawberries alone lately,, but the tower grants lots of hiding places. well, the heat had been taking its toll so i laid some straw "on top." it has been a couple of weeks, but coincidence or not, they were all over them 2 nights ago. it could also have been the second seasonal emergence, too.

also, under my honeysuckle is loads of fallen leaves that i have left. well, this same night i found the little sneakers in it. the problem is, if i pour soapy water for the earwigs, the worms are attracted to the same area and start heading for the hills. :( i hate it when that happens. i am also very careful not to squirt a sleeping bumblebee on my echinacea. i am worrying that it has a residual effect for the next day. i am afraid to find out.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 7:56PM
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Wow - Long thread with Long messages. --- I haven't read them all. Just want to say - hang in there organically. I know when I first started it seemed like nothing would get rid of all my pests - whitefly, aphids, .... Now after a few years I rarly see "bad" bugs. I think the longer you are organic the better your little part of the world becomes. Don't give up on being organic!!! The earth will thank you!!!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 12:16PM
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jen28(z5 ID)

fairy toadmother,

I feel your pain! Those nasty creatures have eaten everything I put in the ground! This is my first attempt at gardening and I mulched the heck out of everything because its so hot here. Once I went out at night and found the culprits I removed all the mulch and put out beer traps - I get hundreds every night. I also cleaned up around the garden area - I had a lot of weeds and with my bad back I just couldn't keep up. I found a big nest when I started thinning my overgrown rhubarb. I dusted the heck out of it with diatemaceous earth and the numbers seem to have dropped drastically. And to think I blamed the poor birds for eating all my strawberries! These earwigs are worse than roaches, and I'm from Florida - that's saying a lot!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 3:18PM
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*big shudder*
cockroaches, yhiiiick.
i have put in many hours and it has paid off! i received a lot of help and ideas here for which i am very thankful! i also think i caught up by the second emergence just in time. now, i probably get migrators from neighboring yards and from nests i didn't find. there is always one.
trying, trying, trying to keep organic principles in my yard! if only i could have a bantam!

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 10:39PM
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granite(z6 NC)

Check your city ordinances....one bantam is a "pet", usually the restrictions are against having a flock of fowl.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 7:06PM
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I just placed 3 traps last night (all homemade -- just empty liter soda bottles w/ hole cut in side, filled w/ some maple syrup, soy sauce, oil and water -- set on side, place either againt rock or in a shallow hole so no tipping) this morning, they were FULL of the little buggars (bye bye earwigs) Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling :)

-Celeste (was at the "I quit" point too until this morning.)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 7:46PM
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oh, celeste, isn't it wonderful??!!

granite, i did wonder about "pet" isssues??? hmmmm, where was that farmer's ad? :)

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 10:29PM
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budnspuds(7 WA)

I haven't had time to read all the responses but I just purchased a book called Grandmother's Critter Ridder book by Dr. Myles H Bader on QVC one day and I looked up earwigs.

Here are some things listed:

It says:

"They are very beneficial since they enjoy feasting on aphids and many other pest bugs. They clean up a lot of decayed materials and are active at night. When they are cleaning up the leaves and such, they find pests and kill them. If you don't want them around they can be eliminated using one of the following methods.

Safety first: If they get in the house, one of the best repellants is to use diatomaceous earth place around baseboards and windowsills. This will last a long time and still be an effective natural killer.

Daily News to the Rescue: If you want to trap earwigs, just lightly spray a newspaper with water and then roll it up loosely and place it near an area that you have earwig activity. Allow it to remain overnight, then remove it and place it into a well-sealed container for disposal. Since they are beneficial this is only used inside a house.

Oiling An Earwig: To make an earwig trap, just use a straight-sided container and fill it half full with canola oil. Leave wherever the problem exists and clean out whenever it has sufficient earwigs in it. The oil can be re-used. Use only if you are overrun with them.

Give them a home: If you place a small amount of dry moss in a few matchboxes and hang them from sticks around the plants they will climb up in them to spend the night and you can dispose of them every morning.

Bantam Hens love Earwigs: Bantam hens will hunt for earwigs all day and will consume large quantities of them as well as other pests. They may peck at a few pieces of veggies or fruit but they do more good than harm."

What is so ironic is today my husband emailed me from work and said he was grossed out. His tag on his shirt was bugging him today so he went to check it out and there was an earwig with his tail in the air ready to bite him. He was so grossed out because we never see them in our house and wonder how it got in his clean and folded shirt in the house. Now we will be shaking out our clothes. ;)

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 11:59PM
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hey, sounds like a very interesting book! i will see if my library can get it.
thanks so much! i have had to shake my clothes many times before dressing.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 9:18PM
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paulns(NS zone 6a)

If you leave your clothes on the line overnight the earwigs are liable to get in them. Next day you fold them with the laundry. We always check clothes inside out, esp. the seams, before bringing them in. Really is nothing sacred. :)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 9:08AM
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If your problem is as simple as earwigs then your answer is simple too. Just plant Marigold flowers in between your plants. Earwigs can't stand the smell of marigolds.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 9:02PM
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loraditch, thank you for the suggestion. also, interesting that you should mention marigolds. i did plant them b/t my rows and the earwigs ate the blooms first and then the foliage!

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 1:56AM
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Virtually everything I've read about earwigs lists marigolds as one of their preferred meals.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 9:05PM
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oh, dear...i can SO relate! i have eight cats (indoors w/ a run); three dogs; fish (in a pond); and a finch. i think i can stand one more critter, and i see a hen in our future.

(too bad i can't put that bratty finch to work--lol.)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 10:58PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

ftm...little did I know that when I was trying to help you with the earwigs last year, that I would have them bad this year. *sigh* What was different this year than last? Rain, rain, rain and mulch, mulch, mulch.

I have not had the energy to really attend to them, so I have let them run rampant. I am sure I will be sorry next year, but I just couldnt' keep up with them.

Marigolds...YES, the same thing happened to me. I had these really bushy plants but no bloom? ! Flashlight in hand, I discovered earwigs eating the buds.

They also had a feast on the cucumber leaves, but I am letting them, since I have more cucumbers than I can eat right now and the vines are looking pretty bad and I want to pull them all out soon. So eating the cukeleaves seems to be keeping down damage in other parts of the yard.

I tried the rolled up newspapers and found none in them. I haven't tried the soysauce/oil mixture. Maybe I will give it a try this weekend.

ftm, what did you find was the most effective measures you took and how are they this year? Did you have a lot of rain there too?

PM2 [aka, adamm321]

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 4:17PM
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oops, sorry i took so long! you weren't trying, you DID help me!

i can't compare this year to last year. first, i am not growing much of anything in my veggie garden this year due to lack of time. i have two sunflowers...the rest didn't germinate. i am pretty sure about that b/c i should have found stem stumps at least. borage and cilantro reseeded on their own. i have noticed more slugs than last year, BUT we have had much more rain as you. speaking of borage, as bristly as they are i cannot believe the way earwigs were dining on them.

i have noticed that once the plant is mature, they can deal with being eaten. they still ate on my lavendar blooms- another curiosity. lavendar is such a fragrant plant, but so is the cilantro and they get after that. they still devour my kiss me over the garden gate down to stems.

what i think helped the most, besides cleaning out that old stump, was going out every night with dish soap spray in hand. i will also credit the ecobran that i treated the lawn with. i purchased this from planet natural. i didnt treat the lawn with it this year, but i do think i hav less earwigs than last. i am guessing though. at first i thought i had almost no problems. i based this on the fact that none of my clematis blooms were eaten. i then decided that it bloomed earlier this year, or the earwigs emerged later.

i also had not noticed them stacked like sardines around the door or like cockroaches on the siding. but, dh used pesticide around the house exterior as soon as they started to come in. he also spot sprayed the fence that they dine on. now, i bet if i cleaned off that moss they would go elsewhere. the neighbor still has the birdfeeder up and i find them in my squirrel feeder. my biggest attach is every few days i spray soapy water into the crevices of the utility pole. they still pack like sardines in there but i find less each month. however, i am on midnight shift now and so haven't assessed the situation in a month.

i am being optimistic and think that my efforts made a difference for this year. unfortunately, they have not recognized my "do not cross this fence" warning and still come from the neighboring yards.

the only place i used ecobran this year was in the flower beds. i sprinkled it just after the first earwig emergence and a couple times more b/c it kept raining. i don't recall sprinkling more when the males emerged, but i know dh sprayed again with that stuff you dont mention here.

btw, it says grasshopper bait, but it works. they even crawled into my spreader, ate what was there, and died.

Here is a link that might be useful: planet natural

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 8:46AM
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well, i have another dilemma to add! my kiss me over the garden gate feeds the earwigs like kings. why do they like it so much? so, i thought i would pull but i like it this time of year.

new dilemma, same plant, diff bug. first time this year- ever! i now have jap beetles. i find them on the kiss me. but, i find them nowhere else? perhaps i should keep it as a trap plant?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2006 at 10:09PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi ftm :-)

Sorry I forgot I made this post..lol. I was just posting about a new bug in the yard and noticed this post again. Well, for some reason the earwigs in the yard have certainly calmed down. At least I am just not seeing any damage and I have no idea why. I didn't do anything.

I found that I had checked the rolled up newspaper too soon. They actually did hide in there and as long as I kept them wet and then scooped them all up into grocery bags and threw them out, they worked pretty well. I could have done quite a few more rolls, if I had the time. So for someone else who has this problem, the newspaper rolls, once you give them about a week for the bugs to discover them, will trap them and you can scoop them up and throw away in the morning and put out more that night. I haven't tried the soy sauce routine. I have no idea why they like one plant over another. They did in my yard too.

Gosh, sorry to hear you have Japanese Beetles, but they are usually pretty slow to just flick them into a container of water. I would just try to keep hand picking. I can't imagine that you would need it as a trap plant, only because there are so many other plants they seem to love too, unless you would rather they eat the KMOTGG over other plants. But maybe it is a draw to your yard too?

Sorry to hear you didn't get to vegetable garden this year. Maybe you needed a break from it too. [g]

thanks for the response. :-)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 7:25PM
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glad to hear things are improving. they are probably calming down also since the second wave/ male earwig emergence is past. now, it is just catch up. i haven't been out to see what is going on out there. you are right in my needing a break! what i have out there is doing just awful as well! oh well. survival of the fittest :)

i am keeping a bowl of soapy water available to drop the jb's into.

hoping you harvest is bountiful :)

    Bookmark   August 23, 2006 at 10:43PM
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whitejade(z5 MI)

Hi ftm ,

I have some thoughts / ideas that are out of the box from regular gardening principles but thought I'd share them for whatever you may find them to be worth....the largest thing I've noted over my years of gardening is that insects are great teachers of personal boundaries. As in OUR personal boundaries. What happens in our yard, in some way, at some level, is a play on things happening within us in other words. You don't mention as to whether your neightors are experiencing this nightmare with earwigs as well.....and of course any practices that increase moisture and shade will be great for slugs and earwigs...but...that is just a surface example of outer landscape mechanics really. What's going on in the inner landscape? Inside US?

So taking this from an outdoor , gardening / house perspective to one of an inner perspective could shed light on items you are working on personally - and this can and does span years usually, depending on what we are doing. When you make your peace with whatever is happening within, then you will likely find less earwigs too...

Most people think this is crazy talk, that there is no real way an insect infestation could be related to their inner emotional states or to a learning curve in setting personal boudnaries. But I see that this is actaully so quite often. The "Dragons" we face in our outer life are a reflection of what we are doing inside. And as we come to grips with and work on those things within, then we will find long term solutions for the outer happenings too. Far more easily / naturally than we'd otherwise find...you are expending a lot of energy (or were, before taking this year off of veggies) and research and such to deal with this problem. So from my life, here's what I find....when I shore up the emotional sdistress I have been either trying to deny or petulantly pushing away, then , like the next day, I will magically figure out the solution to my problem. I will "find" THE crack to put my caulk in or I will find that we had a slow leak somehwere that was the causative factor...in other words, I will then find the basic "real world" solutions that fix things for good.

Working on our inner landscape can almost magically resolve outer landscape problems! And we *all have these in our lives.....
hope you find this helpful,

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 10:15AM
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thank you, chris, for taking the time and for that insightful post! all too true. i will have to meditate on it now ;)
some times we just have to learn to let things "go."

as a sidenote, i would say my neighbors are all having the same problme. as a matter of fact, the earwigs run to "their" side of the fence and are thicker on the other side from what i can tell.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2006 at 3:22PM
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The earwigs ate my marigolds, some people say they won't but I saw them at night on the plants stripping the leaves.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2007 at 6:13PM
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i hadnt thought of that...something ate 15 of my 30 sunflower seedlings. left just the stems sticking out of the ground...i blamed the geese, because i see them out there picking at the ground. but sure enough i did find a nest of earwigs when i was moving some rocks in the garden... i think ill head back that way with some soap...thanks for the idea...never knew what they ate.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2007 at 12:03PM
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Well, you apparently get many more earwigs then I do here. :( I rarely see them. Mostly potato bugs and worms and the like.

But I'm also glad it's more bearable for you. :) Personally, with the expense and the work that goes into making our clay-like soil decent, I really like to grow things via pots that sit happily on our deck- the most damage that comes to them are from casually-pecking doves or birds up there. Also, most bugs seem to die in small containers of dirt. It's a limited system, but I find that they stay quite protected in their natural habitat, yet away from some other elements. *Shrug*

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 6:08PM
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I so relate to this post! I started having problems with earwigs after just two years of gardening. I was told they were ok, but they kept eating EVERYTHING, specially Marigolds, butterfly bush, cone flowers and peppers. I used collars, diatomaceous earth, newspaper rolls, old hose pieces emptying them on soapy water. In the end I just went out at night with a flash light, a plastic container which I kept shaking so they could not climb, and then dumping them in the floor and stomping on them. In the end they became weaker, but I am not sure all my efforts made a dent. I started noticing these flies in the garden, stalking the earwigs at night, and apparently they inject them with larvae that eventually kills them. My garden was too new, and now the bugs have finally levelled off. I still see earwigs, but the damage is much less (fingers crossed). Hang in there, organic works, it just takes time to heal dead soil.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 11:29PM
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Are you sure it wasn't slugs that are eating the plants but your are seeing the earwigs? I would put out some slugbait (beer in a bowl that is buried level to the ground for organic) and see what you find.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 11:02PM
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burglady_2007 says "Are you sure it wasn't slugs that are eating the plants but your are seeing the earwigs?"

(Sigh) This is the normal reaction of people who have not had the earwig plague. As for any bug, none is bad until they are too many. Going out at night with a flashlight and seeing them eat your plants... and no sign of slugs, I can say I am pretty sure! Fairy toadmother, you have all my support.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 11:35PM
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I know this is an old thread, but just in case someone else wonders upon it looking for help here is a totally organic solution for earwigs and other creepy crawlies. This won't work for aphids, but great against earwigs, slugs and snails.

Go to a local Greenhouse, plant supply, or hardware store. Ask for diatomatious earth. It looks like a white powder. It is completely natural. Spread it on the surface ground around the plants. When the buggie wuggies wonder through it, it goes through their skin or ecto skeleton and kills them by drying them up. It won't harm you, but i still recommend washing it off when done applying it as I would recommend with anything anyway.

We use to recommend this all the time at the garden center I worked at years and years ago and never had any complaints. Works wonders.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:12AM
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macheske(6/7 NorthernVA)

Sevin works great!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2008 at 9:40PM
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I too feel your pain. It is a constant battle with earwigs in our garden. Yes, tuna cans with oil catch some of them, but if you get 20% of 500 earwigs your garden is still going to disappear overnight. They ate 70% of my bean seedlings in 2 nights. Seedlings that were both healthy and covered with D E. They eat Diatomoaceaous Earth like salt on my plants. I've had them eat an entire adult squash plant, nothing left but the veins, overnight. Planted 12 marigolds yesterday, 3 partials left this morning . I've also removed every concievable removable shelter for them in my yard, taking out many of the sandstone rocks that were edging and landscaping. They apparently just moved out of the yard, as the plants closest to the property line have been first to get devoured. Organic gardening and making your own compost takes a ton of time and energy, and a couple hundred dollars a year between plants, water, drip system parts (it's dry around here) renting a tiller in my case, gas from collecting manure, coffee grounds and and straw, and bags and bags of D E and other attempts at controlling the pestilence. If I don't have a garden because of the rapacious earwigs then it's all wasted time and energy. So finally I threw in the towel and dusted with 7, completely defeated but not willing to not have any garden at all. I want to know what will completely turn them away and most of the posts here don't really seem to understand the unbelievable extent of the problem that I know you have. kind advice and all, roll up some wet newspapers, put out tuna cans, D E, make sure your plants are healthy, it must be your soil, etc but so far I haven't really seen anything here that approaches solving our problem. So basically what I'm saying is, "I feel ya". Freaking seven dust. but I have bean plants.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 10:49PM
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I too feel your pain. It is a constant battle with earwigs in our garden. Yes, tuna cans with oil catch some of them, but if you get 20% of 500 earwigs your garden is still going to disappear overnight. They ate 70% of my bean seedlings in 2 nights. Seedlings that were both healthy and covered with D E. They eat Diatomoaceaous Earth like salt on my plants. I've had them eat an entire adult squash plant, nothing left but the veins, overnight. Planted 12 marigolds yesterday, 3 partials left this morning . I've also removed every concievable removable shelter for them in my yard, taking out many of the sandstone rocks that were edging and landscaping. They apparently just moved out of the yard, as the plants closest to the property line have been first to get devoured. Organic gardening and making your own compost takes a ton of time and energy, and a couple hundred dollars a year between plants, water, drip system parts (it's dry around here) renting a tiller in my case, gas from collecting manure, coffee grounds and and straw, and bags and bags of D E and other attempts at controlling the pestilence. If I don't have a garden because of the rapacious earwigs then it's all wasted time and energy. So finally I threw in the towel and dusted with 7, completely defeated but not willing to not have any garden at all. I want to know what will completely turn them away and most of the posts here don't really seem to understand the unbelievable extent of the problem that I know you have. kind advice and all, roll up some wet newspapers, put out tuna cans, D E, make sure your plants are healthy, it must be your soil, etc but so far I haven't really seen anything here that approaches solving our problem. So basically what I'm saying is, "I feel ya". Freaking seven dust. but I have bean plants.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 11:09PM
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Have yo tried DE? Put the DE on the ground around the plants so they have to walk thru it. It will do more damage on them then in them. I don't see dusting your plants working all that well. I would think they would damage the earwigs to the point where they would stay away from your plants by choice. Worth a try.. Opps just noticed this is an old thread.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 1:06AM
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You know you're replying to a message written 9 years ago?

    Bookmark   April 29, 2014 at 3:29PM
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