Earwig Invasion

hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)May 26, 2009

Oh, ick. We have had a population explosion-- of earwigs. They are in the bathroom, the study, the pantry, the BEDROOM! There's only one thing that's worse than waking up to an earwig crawling up your face, and that's having earwigs eat your garden.

I was mad about the hippeastrum and iris damage, even more peeved about the skeletonized brugmansias and hollyhocks, but they have gone too far. They ate my first eggplant.

I had to have leftover spaghetti for dinner.

Does anyone have any ideas about what can be done to control these beasties? The chickens won't even eat them.

Renee

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ltecato(9)

I was at a garden store yesterday and they had a bait that is supposed to kill a number of pests, including snails and earwigs. I can't recall the brand name, but it was right next to the snail bait. I'll bet earwigs tend to eat a lot of the same things that snails go after, so if you have any snail bait, that might be worth a try.

Also, since those nasty SOBs like to hide under things lying on the ground, it might help to clean up any old boards or bricks you have in your yard. Or at least turn them over and kill any earwigs you find. I think they also hide out in leaf litter and under potted plants.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 4:00AM
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mlevie

One trick I tried last year is to set out a tin can with an inch or so of oil in it. The earwigs will crawl in and then drown in the oil. Make sure you put it in a nice, shady, moist place.

Another trick...roll up a newspaper and secure it with a rubber band. Wet it down so it's nice and moist. Set it out in the evening, and earwigs will nest in it. Early in the morning, pick it up and dispose.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 11:44AM
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debbysunshine(san diego)

Hopefully we don't get the earwig invasion here in San Diego atleast inland where I live. My dirt is full of rust colored brown beetles. We had these in huge amounts in Pheonix and you could see hundreds of their shells outside hanging on the walls.
In my new health magazine shows Orthro Ecosense brand indoor bug spray that is safe and effective hopefully in the kitchen, non staining, and no harsh chemicals, so maybe this would work.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 2:02PM
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sautesmom

I am having the same problem in my garden, they are eating all my seedlings and lining up to get into my fruit trees when the fruit starts to ripen.
There is a new product, Sluggo Plus, that is supposed to kill earwigs as well as snails and slugs AND it's also non-toxic, and I have been dithering about trying it, because it is REALLY EXPENSIVE! ($16.00 for a 6 inch box)
I finally decided to suck-it-up and buy it yesterday after all my cucumber sprouts had been chewed to stubs, so I went to several places to do so (Lowe's, HD, etc.), but none of them carried it. I finally found it at a small upscale nursery, but I hadn't brought enough cash and my credit card turned out to be expired, so I failed in my quest. I plan on getting it today, and I'll let you know how it works.

Mind you, don't buy the regular "Sluggo", which only kills snails and slugs-- be sure to buy "Sluggo PLUS", if you want to to try it.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 2:58PM
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gobluedjm

Here's the website below for Sluggo Plus
On the left side are links to where to buy or buy online.

Here is a link that might be useful: sluggo plus maker

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 3:32PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Oh, yes. I was spreading food-grade diatomateous earth around everything, but Sluggo Plus, here I come!

My sprinklers had not pressure today. Yup, earwigs. How do they get in there?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2009 at 10:32PM
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mlevie

Another couple of earwig tricks I've used in the past--

Roll up a newspaper and secure with a rubber band. Wet it down and in the evening place it near where you've seen the little so-and-sos. They'll nest in it and in the morning you can just pick it up and dispose of it.

I've also tried this one: take a tin can and put about an inch of olive oil in the bottom. Place near earwig home. The bugs will crawl in to taste the oil, but then they can't get out and drown.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 12:26PM
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sautesmom

WELL--
I am happy to report that this morning I looked in the seed starting tray under my squash/cucumber starts, and found three earwigs on their backs, one with its little legs still in death throes. Three days ago when I did this, before the Sluggo Plus, about 20 scurried away, very much alive.
SO I call Sluggo Plus a success in the earwig battle. Pricey, but worth it!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   May 28, 2009 at 3:36PM
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musaboru(Inland Calif.)

They're even in your favorite flowers! UGH! I leave out bowls of water and they drown themselves in there. I never seen so many earwigs before.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2009 at 8:26AM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

I wonder what caused the population increase? My friends in Northridge report the same thing- their veggies have been devastated. I have waited all year for my new fancy daylilies to bloom, and the first buds are eaten. I pulled all of my grapefruit today because they are eating them.

I tried the rolled-up moist newspaper trick last night- put out about 30 rolls. No earwigs. I think that trick works best if there are no other cozy moist places for them, and my yard is full of those places, especially right up against the raised veggie beds where I grow yarrow.

Haven't found Sluggo Plus at the local stores, so we're off to the nurseries in the SF Valley tomorrow.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 5:22PM
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dicot

I had to look up what Sluggo Plus is because sometimes rushing to spread a new insecticide backfires ecologically. It seems pretty benign - Iron phosphate and spinosad granular formulation. Spinosad being derived from a naturally occurring soil dwelling bacterium called Saccharopolyspora spinosa, a rare actinomycete reportedly collected from soil in an abandoned rum distillery on a Caribbean Island in 1982 by a scientist on vacation[wikipedia]. It reportedly has not been found in nature since that time. Weird. Seems like Sluggo Plus can occasionally injure or kill some pollinators and beneficial wasps.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 9:10PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

I really wonder why the earwigs ended up in your house Do you have a spinkler leak in the garden somewhere? Cracks in your foundation? What is driving them inside? They like decaying matter as a rule, not being in the house...that must be awful!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 2:07AM
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slogal(CA z10a/Sunset 16)

Here's a cheap, effective, organic solution that I found here on GW a few years back:

Use equal parts soy sauce, molasses and veggie oil and put in empty tuna cans -- the larger and shallower, the better. The mix attracts earwigs but nothing else. Earwigs crawl in but can't crawl out through the oil that lays on top of the soy/molasses. This is the only thing that saved my zinnia seedlings from being munched completely by earwigs.

The OP mentioned earwigs in the house -- this can be used indoors (assuming pets would leave it alone -- they might like the taste, don't know).

    Bookmark   May 31, 2009 at 5:25PM
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Holly DeVito

I have them all over in my lettuce! They are disgusting. I noticed they are in the empty stem of one of the leaves on my zucchini plant that had broken off. I hope they don't eat the plant from the inside out!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 12:22AM
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angelcub(Sunset 3b)

I feel your pain! I have them in most of my beds and they've even eaten my roses! Ok, that means war around here. lol!

I have three cats so plenty of cat food cans. I put about a half inch of canola oil in the cans and set them out under my vegie starts, hollyhocks and some of the roses they seem to like. The next morning the cans were all full of them buggers - dead buggers! lol! Now I am seeing very few of them and no more munching on the plants/roses.

Yesterday I was feeling a bit onery and put one of those creepy things in one of the cans. He swam around for about 20 seconds before coming to a dead (ha ha) stop. ; )

So try some cheap canola/vegie oil. No need to add any other ingredients. I have no idea why it works but this vegie/rose lover is happy again. : )

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 5:54PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Thanks for the tips, slogal and angelcub. Every flower I deadhead has a few in it. I'll keep at it!

Dicot, I have some spinosad spray. I'll look at the label tomorrow to see what it says about earwigs. That would be a great solution for me, since I worry about the chickens eating anything that's pelletized.

Hoovb, bugs get in because this is a bit of a rough and tumble house. My dad says the only reason the house is still standing is that the termites are holding hands. Heehee.

Will report back after the catfood can approach is tested.
Renee

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 1:07AM
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antman76

I used to garden with chickens around, and I remember they really loved the original Sluggo. Never seemed to do them any harm, but it's sort of pricey chickenfeed. I took to making "slug motels", and putting the bait under upside-down pots and other things that the chickens couldn't knock over.
I've never used the Spinosad spray because I worry about it killing bees (I grow more flowers than veggies). I'd be curious to know if the spray kills earwigs, though, because the Sluggo is expensive. Maybe mixing some of the spray with molasses or something would be a money-saver?

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 4:02PM
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kathi_mdgd

My BF was inundated with earwigs a month or so ago.She said they were in her house,out in the gardens and up under the facia boards on her house.She said it was soooo bad that just walking out the door,they would drop on your head fromabove.She finally had Terminix come out and tent her house and spray the yard.

LOL at Hosenemis,i told my sister the other day that one of these days we'll probably see the termites carrying our house down the street.LOL

When they had the big fires around here in 2007,some guy put a big sign in his yard that said,"Finally no more terminites"!!!
Kathi

    Bookmark   June 5, 2009 at 4:18PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Success!
Both the rolled-up newspaper and the oil-in the can suggestions by mlevie and others have begun to take effect.

The problem:

One night's haul:

I'm a bit more comfortable with the oil since it was hard to stomp all of the earwigs in the newspaper. Added bonus: snails and slugs in there too!

Thanks to all of you for your suggestions. Kathi, my heart goes out to your neighbor. An earwig just dropped from the ceiling onto my desk as I type this...

Renee

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 4:38PM
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angelcub(Sunset 3b)

Oh yeah, that's more like it! Glad you've had success! How dare those nasties munch on that lovely clem. ; )

I don't know what to tell you about them being in the house. I'd be freaking out and call the exterminator. lol! I know they don't harm humans but still . . .

Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 11, 2009 at 1:58PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Sorry to be late to the party. Last year I had a problem with earwigs munching the emerging flowers off my Salvia leucophylla. Cooking oil in used catfood tins cured the problem. But the opossums also like the oil. Once an opossum discovered it, he would lick out the tins and leave them overturned every night. I know it was an opossum, because I have wildlife camera and I caught him in the act.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 1:10AM
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ltecato(9)

I've never had a home infested by earwigs, but I recommend a light dusting of boric acid for any creepy crawly home invaders. It works well on roaches and fleas, I can attest. I've seen it recommended for ants as well.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 12:08AM
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angelcub(Sunset 3b)

ccroulet, I bet there's a recipe for opossum stew. ; )

I cut roses for bouquets yesterday. Brought TWO of those nasties into the house. They were curled up inside an Easy Going bloom. They were alive but not moving much. Do they like the pollen? Maybe they were drunk on it.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 3:15PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Wow, ccroulet, I was just returning to this thread to report back about the problem with... you guessed it... oppossums. It seems they find earwig in oil a delectable treat. They can slurp it right up through the wire or tape over the top of the can with their little skinny snouts.

It's so depressing- a non-toxic solution that can't be used here.

Angelcub, every one of my daylilies has an earwig right in the center of the bloom, head buried in the trumpet. I think they are like ostriches and think that since they can't see anyone, no one can see them.

On a positive note, I had eggplant for dinner. Yup, they only got one out of five Ichibans.

Renee

    Bookmark   June 13, 2009 at 9:17PM
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sautesmom

Renee:

I'm still having great success with the Sluggo Plus, and it's non-toxic too.

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 2:39PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

Despite the opossum problem, I'd use the cooking-oil-in-catfood-tins solution again. We have lots of lizards and birds, and I'm very reluctant to spread any poison. As to the expected question of why my precious lizards don't eat the earwigs: these lizards are diurnal, and the earwigs are nocturnal. As to the 'possum stew suggestion: don't think I didn't think of it. But it's not a culinary specialty where my ancestors came from. A bigger nuisance with opossums is that they have very short lifespans -- 18 to 24 months is typical. They just keel over in their tracks when their days are done, meaning I've had to dispose of dead opossums, one of which stunk up the neighborhood before we located it.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 4:20PM
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sautesmom

Sluggo is not poison, it's iron phosphate, which breaks down into an iron supplement for the soil if not eaten by slugs. Sluggo Plus also has Spinosad, which is derived from a naturally-occurring soil dwelling bacterium. The major warning the label has is that it can cause "eye irritation" if you smear it in your eyes. But then so can baking soda!

Carla in Sac

    Bookmark   June 15, 2009 at 9:39PM
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mlevie

Hosenemesis and ccroulet--

If possums are getting into the cans...not to make this more difficult (and nothing against the sluggo plus either, it's totally non-toxic) but you could cut a piece of chickenwire and secure it over the cans with garden staples. That would probably keep possums out but not earwigs.

Although if the possums like earwigs, maybe they're not so bad! It reminds me of the story about the woman who got a cat to get rid of the mice and then a dog to get rid of the cat and then... ;-P

Matt

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 1:34PM
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gobluedjm

They are eating my buddleia. I dug a little hole and put the container with the oil so they would just fall in.
After 3 nights have captured zero.
Do you guys think I should just set it on top of soil?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 2:46PM
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socks

OK, I'm trying the olive oil tonight. Do they need bread for dipping too?

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 7:48PM
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ccroulet(z9 CA Sunset 18)

I used the absolute cheapest cooking oil I could find at the market. I found a bottle of stuff that was about half the price of the others. I would think (hope!) no serious cook would use the stuff.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 8:19PM
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angelcub(Sunset 3b)

Carla, thanks for the info on the SluggoPlus. I need something where the cans/oil aren't practical.

socks and Matt, too funny. : ) And great tip on the chicken wire cover. Half inch hardware cloth should work, too.

Like ccroulet, I just used cheap canola oil. I'm still catching them but need to refill all the cans since we had rain last night.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 12:18PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

No Socks, but they may appreciate a little garlic.

Good idea on the chicken wire. I'm going to try it.

Gobluedjm, I failed to drown a single earwig in a number of my cans. I know they are eating my hollyhock, but not a one crawled into the can nestled at its base. I know they are eating my eggplant because I find them IN the eggplants, but not in the canola oil. It seems to be a hit-and miss technique.

Carla, summer school is over at 3:15 tomorrow (but who's counting?) and I will finally have the time to go to the SFV to get some Sluggo Plus. And some BT. The budworms are starting to get active...

Renee

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 9:13PM
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gobluedjm

Thanks Renee, at least I know I'm not the only one.
4th night and still nothing.
Now if I could just keep the ground squirrel out.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2009 at 9:45PM
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socks

Reporting back--in the shade garden I got 3-4 slugs. That's good. I figure each one of those could be responsible for hundreds more.

In the roses, some critter came along and slurped up all the oil and residual cat food. Skunk/opossum/raccoon--one of those. Guess I'll have to put a little screen over it.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 1:49PM
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ltecato(9)

If anyone cares, one of my pitcher plants caught an earwig here in Dana Point. I posted a photo in the carnivorous plants forum.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 6:31PM
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gobluedjm

I finally got 3 in the oil and killed another when I moved a pot.
A few sprinkles today was nice while I was out defending my plum tree from the birds.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 7:59PM
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dutch62

Since earwigs only have one generation per year (usually) and the female only lays 50 to 60 eggs, the EXPLOSION is something that usually takes a year or two to build up to. Reduce the numbers by simply reducing moisture and hiding spots. Do that each spring and you'll avoid the earwig bomb.

Here is a link that might be useful: Prepare and prevent the earwig

    Bookmark   May 9, 2010 at 9:00PM
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sagehill

This forum thread is from last year, but the earwigs are really bad this year, too. Would like to share something that has worked for me in the vegetable garden. I take plastic yogurt/cottage cheese type containers and cut out the bottom and put them around seedlings when I plant them out. This discourages earwigs enough that they are able to live while before they were being skeletonized and dying. I also was having a problem with seeds coming up nicely and then being eaten within 24 hours. I started putting plastic containers around them as soon as they came up and they survive and do great. They just have to make do with a little less sun at first. Also, we just took a three week vacation and had to leave the garden alone. I planted cucumbers, squash, melons and beans and put containers around the places I planted the seeds. When we came home, we had little happy plants. I usually use the smaller pint size container or cut the quart size shorter.

Potatoes are more difficult because they get big so fast and mine were being skeletonized. I didn't know what was doing it until I went out at night with a flashlight and they were covered with - guess what - earwigs. I cut the bottom out of quart size yogurt containers and cut a slit up the side and wrapped them around the bases. It slowed them down enough that my potatoes are alive and have a lot of folliage, though are still being eaten because the containers fall over and the leaves touch the ground. Otherwise I think they would have been dead. Strawberries are still a problem. Anyone have any ideas? Something eats holes in them. I read about strawberry pests and this fits the description of - guess what - earwigs!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2010 at 2:06PM
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edr81(4 (St. Paul))

There's lots of things you can do. For inside, start by drying the place out with fans, space heaters, and dehumidifiers. Make sure any and all leaks (pipes, roof, etc.) get fixed too.

For outside, start by picking up any debris that they might be living under, remove water sources, and use some sort of pesticide. If you want natural you can try diatomaceous earth, boric acid or pyrethrins. If you want chemical, try CyKick CS, Cynoff WP, or Talstar P.

If you want a more info, the corresponding web page to the link below is chock full of it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Earwig Control

    Bookmark   August 13, 2010 at 1:28PM
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norm52

try cornmeal with a little sugar, but keep it dry. it expands inside and kills them.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 9:18AM
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hannah82(9b)

Speaking of earwig invasions...This afternoon I was cutting the stalks off my expiring borage plant when lo and behold, I discovered a colony of earwigs living WITHIN the hollow stalks of the plant. I just stood there peering down the tubes of earwigs in utter disgust and disbelief. As much as I hate them, I have to admit those suckers are darn creative opportunists. They were probably in the middle of planning a coup to take over the world in there,...wait....too late. Ugh~

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 3:43PM
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Alexdreamz_yahoo_com

Well, apparently it took the invasion this long to migrate north to Seattle Washington! Thank you all for the wonderful tips - I didn't have a clue what was decimating my garden, as I've never seen more than one or two a year before - and then, usually inside! This year, I'm seeing 2 or 3 a DAY in my house - guess where I'm headed now? It's too late to save the peppers, cucumbers, etc... but maybe I can at least salvage the peas, beans, corn - and thank heavens they haven't noticed the tomatoes on the back deck! Thanks again - I'm off to set traps and rearrange the yard for minimum earwig pleasure!!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 12:33PM
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hosenemesis(SoCal Sunset 19 USDA 8b)

Go get 'em, Alex!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2011 at 11:58PM
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