please help with earwig invasion

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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maryellens_garden(z5 OH)

your answer is in your name....TOADS....

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 5:26PM
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so i thought, too! i can't attract toads. everyone around me wants short clipped lawns and chemical treatments. after learning that cedar mulch and toads do not mix, i haven't used cedar mulch in 5 years. no toads. if i try a toad habitat, then fights with dh start. i have plans for day cooling places for toads in the works, but they have to be able to get to me first. one neighbor has his lawn treated every year if not more often. my puddle is probably the only "body" of water to be found in blocks other than an inground pool down the road, and it isn't enough for them. lack of rain has also not helped for their traveling (toads).

    Bookmark   June 8, 2005 at 7:56PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Do a search here on earwigs. You will see you are not alone. My roses just bloomed and look great. By the end of this month, they will all be just a bunch of earwig condos with their centers chewed up and earwig poop all over. Hate them.
My neighborhood is like yours. I would have to bring the toads in artificially. I always thought the neighbor's cat would get them.
Did you try the soy sauce and oil method? I keep saying I will but haven't yet. It is very brave of you to go out 1 am to see what is eating your garden. I am too skeeved out to do that.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 3:43PM
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there isn't much that bothers me at night. i am more concerned with hoodlums than critters. although, some things will make me jump until i get my senses!

i tried the toad thing last year. i had a large female stick around for some months, but i haven't seen any this year, including the toadpoles i raised b/c their puddle where i work was almost gone. i only hope i didnt do more harm for their lack of overwintering. also, i was always afraid when the lawn was cut. we would see very small toads jumping out of the way, but what about the ones that didn't get out of the way.

i did the soy sauce without the oil, but i don't keep up. my cat wants to drink it so i have to cover the can with something. i know that the back light attracts them and i get many more by attracting them that way then pouring very hot soapy water out the door onto the concrete patio.

i only wish i had a miner's lamp :) to free one hand to dump the earwigs off my plants and into my pitcher with soapy coffee water.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 10:06PM
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Wow,you seem so frustrated.Earwigs are great predators of most soft-bodied insects we consider a pests.Aphids are their main meal.However,as you have found out,they also like fresh seedlings,which are easier to eat.Earwigs will eat holes in new leaves of more mature plants.Earwigs can be captured.Night is their time to roam.Placing out used tuna,cat,dog food cans with vegetable oil,will attract and kill them.Also,take old newspapers and roll them up,using a rubber band or two to secure,plus wetting them,will catch the buggers.This method works because,while they need darkness to feed,they also need darkness to hide from their enemies.So,go out in the morning,and located said said houses and throw them into the trash can.Maybe your yard is too moist,try drying it out.Pick-up any leaf-litter used as breeding grounds for snails,slugs,and in your case earwigs.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2005 at 11:31PM
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curlymolly(zone 7a-Arizona)

I'm ready to go out this weekend with a hose and a sprayer attachment full of Dawn dish washing detergent and spray my entire property. Unfortunately, this might kill alot of other things that I don't want to kill, but Dawn mixed with water, and sprayed directly on the earwigs does work. And it is the earwigs that are munching on every tender thing in my gardens. My gardens are totally infested with earwigs this year. This is very unusual, and it's very unusual for me to go to extremes, but they are eating everything. It's like a plague of locusts in the Bible, and I have to do something to stop the destruction. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 5:54AM
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i here ya, curlymolly!

can i jsut throw earwigs into a trashcan? won't they crawl out? this is why i had not yet tried the newspaper deal. i am out at night hunting earwigs to drop them into my pitcher of dishsoap, but i only get a few.

on the contrary, it had been extremely dry until recently. i do have mulch in my garden b/c i am trying the no-till or lasagna method. i don't have any mulch in the flower gardens yet they are eating my mature plants over there as well. those can survive the damage where seedlings cannot.

holding on to my seat waiting for my planet natural order to arrive. my seedlings are now all gone unless they can grow new leavs. problem: earwigs eat all new growth before it can produce its own chlorophyl. i planted more seeds even though i was giving up.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2005 at 10:35PM
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linwallace(5b IL)

If you have no objection to using Boric acid, I heard that controls the irritating critters. It's also good for ants and cockroaches. Sprinkle it around the area.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 2:17PM
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I've had hoards and hoards of earwigs in the past. A few years ago was the most disgusting haven I'd ever seen; in my daughters outdoor wooden toybox, built by DH. I opened the lid, and there were hundreds, just on the lid alone! I slammed down the lid, went inside, shaked and cried. I can handle a few here and there, but this was TOOOOOOOOOOO much. I let DH deal with that, and although I don't know what he did, I let it go. Last year, I had a large round paver leaning on a raised bed, made of stone. Well, I went to get the paver and there was a huge earwig nest/nesting area/congregation. Rather than freak out, I gently put the paver against the stone border, ran for some organic chemical that I had in the shed, and sprayed the daylights out of them. I won't use chemicals, although DH has no issues with that, but I guess I keep hoping they'll just go away! I've seen (and squished) my first dozen within the last few days. Ugh...

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 2:47PM
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linwallace, why didn't i think fo that! do they have to ingest it?

they are now starting to eat my popcorn since my seedlings are zilch. also on my tomatoes and new blueberry "bushes."

on my nightly earwig patrol with my pitcher of soapy water, i found some eggs on our garage exterior wall of vinyl siding. uugh. they will never quit!

waiting for my planet natural order....perhaps i can get control before my other seedlings come up that i just planted.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2005 at 8:54PM
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aka_peggy(Central Md 6b)

Best go easy on the boric acid. Too much and the spot where you use it could be barren forever.

The FAQ's here has several suggestions for killing earwigs.

Good luck fairy toadmother, Thanks to you, I won't take it so lightly next time I see a couple of earwigs in the garden. I'll be ready for em!

Here is a link that might be useful: Earwigs

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 8:39AM
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thank yo for the faq link peggy! actually, that is wher i got the idea of using bay leaf in my spray concoction. it is hard to tell if things work. when you spray they run no matter what it is. they seemed to avoid it as long as it was wet. the next day, i am not sure. there may have been a few less but not enough for my seedlings to survive. i am also afraid of overspraying. earwig patrol did not turn up as many last night. i believe the higher winds disturb them and they go to ground.

ftm, always ready, always armed (with a pitcher of soapy water and a flashlight) i probably drop more on the ground than in the pitcher, though.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2005 at 8:03PM
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Spy_RI(z6 RI)

This earwig thing is a nightmare- I've been following this thread very closely, as I have the same kind of sudden and devastating invasion going on here- I've been trying to be organic and trying to trap them, but it doesn't seem to be working for me. I've done the newspaper tube thing, and the crumpled newspaper in pots on stakes in my plants, tried Safer brand Insect Killing Soap, and spent oh, hours out there with the flashlight and soapy water. This is so discouraging! This morning, my first thought was to check my newspaper traps! That's how obsessed I've become. And despite absolute festivals of the damned things munching away last night, I didn't manage to catch one. Grrrr! Just had to vent before heading to HD for chemical warfare.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 10:14AM
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if you have a few days and you would like, see my other post on this subject :

Here is a link that might be useful: organic gardening forum

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 9:16PM
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Spy_RI(z6 RI)

Oh, gosh, Fairy Toadmother, I just read through all that and it sounds like you've had a heck of a time! I have to say that nothing with the newspaper seemed to interest the earwigs at all. I caved today and bought a box of diatomaceous earth- why is that not considered organic? As I understand it, the killing effect is due to texture (microscopic shards that scrathc the protective covering from the earwigs) rather than a chemical reaction, and as I googled it I was surprised to see that it's even included in animal feeds. Anyway, I got home too late to apply it, but as I passed my poor flower bed I warned the earwigs that tonight is their last feast, as tomorrow I dust them. I'll let you know how that goes! Hope yours have slowed down!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 11:32PM
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not as many; seen around the house but i have found a possible hide out!

i always thought d.e. was organic. hmmm. anyway, do not get it from a pool supply, there are many other things added to it for that purpose. or, it may just not be "food grade."

good luck! i posted another follow up on the othr thread to save me from typing (regarding last nights experience). maybe i will copy/paste:

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 8:50PM
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Spy_RI(z6 RI)

Well, I did the diatomaceous earth tonight. It's drizzling now, and I can't see any earwigs with my flashlight, but I'm not sure if it's the rain or the D.E. Hope they're gone!!! Keep us informed about your battle, Fairy Toadmother! Good luck, and get some sleep if you can!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2005 at 11:54PM
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if it rains, you will need to reapply the de. it will get washed away. i didn't find as many last night! hope i didn't jsut jinx myself.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2005 at 10:23PM
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Vera_EWASH(z5 EasternWA)

At first I thought it was slugs because of all the rain we've got this year...leaves of seedlings were being half eaten and some right down to the mid vien..especially too the Amaranthus, Basil, Castor Bean. So I found some shallow plastic dessert cups and the like, filled them with a mix of yeast, sugar and water and buried them even with the soil surface near damaged plants. The next day they were full of earwig nymphs. I do know they feed on aphids and other soft-bodied pests but they were just ridiculous this year. Thank god the parasitic wasps, damsel bugs and lady beetles have moved in to take care of them aphids! Last year the only earwig problem I had was a few chewing their way into and taking up house in my Anaheim pepper pods!


    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 2:29AM
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isn't it amazing, vera?!!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 6:11PM
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AnnieCAN(Toronto Canada)

I'm new and my problem is similar. Earwigs in my veg garden, it's organic. I'm a first time gardener and I just joined this site. I am not computer savvy but am trying. Can't go out and touch those bugs, so afraid. I sneak out with my flashlight though at all hours of the night. I never catch anything at all. But I saw lots of earwigs in my veg garden just now and a few ants. Also lots of snails in my perrenial beds. Earwigs again in my gout and wild violets, never catch'em but so know they are there those sneaky buggers! Love some help understanding the site and any suggestion for my bug probs. Thanks, Anne

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 11:28AM
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anne, many of hte forums have a search link where you type in what you are looking for. it will give you the option of checking the forum you are on or all forums. it will then bring up a list of threads that have referenced or is about your typed topic.

some of the forums also have a faq link (frequently asked questions). good info on these. anything underlined is a link to click on and the site will either redirect you at he bottom of the "page" or to another page.

the general rule is to do a "search" before asking/posting a question in case of repeats. also, when you post a question (there is a link for this on the forum's "front" page) you have the option of having responses emailed to you. this is good, in case you have not kept up on the thread and someone responds a week later or after you have forgotten about it. hope this is what you are looking for. these are just the basics. i start out slow rather than all info at once.

ok, your earwigs. since you are already out at night with a flashlight, arm yourself with a spray bottle water with a squirt of dishsoap. i am not sure how little or how much soap is preferred, but that is what i use. one squirt, and the earwigs run, starting to contort in seconds. they probably die faster than any other bug from soapy water which is why i like it! :)

the spray bottle enables me to get them individually rather than soaping the entire plant. also, for the low plants- you can't tip a pitcher very well. i am not really sure if dishsoap and water is considered organic.

i also just dumped some diatomaceous earth on an area last night. this should give them a slow death.

if you click on the link i posted on the 15th "organic gardening forum" it will take you to another thread where some wonderful forum members picked my brain. it would be much easier for you to read than to repeat it all here. i will add that wild violets tend to form a nice mat. i am sure the earwigs hide out in there during the day as well. are you experiencing a lot of damage? i have always had earwigs, but not the damage i had this year.

any other questions that i missed? shoot!

    Bookmark   July 12, 2005 at 8:17PM
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OK ...
I have Lots of earwigs and am always on the look out for some solutions...

here is what is working for me...
(the best is the last one.)

the news paper thing realy only works when the paper is WET, and best if it is in a plastic bag like the ones the paper is delivered in when it rains... or a bread bag.
then when you harvest it... Just seal it up and toss the whole thing... (I do not get the paper so I do Not do this one)

the diatomaceous earth thing only seems to work when you make a Line of the stuff around a plant ... works great around the rim of a big pot... this has saved my avacado plants... has NOT worked with the ruhbarb (which is Planted in the ground).

Now I have been told that you can take plastic dishes (like butter or yogurt) and poke holes (big enough for earwigs to get it)around the edges and fill with oil and soy sauce (put the lid on)... this has NOT worked for me.

the thing that HAS WORKED GREAT! is this...
glasses of CHEAP White Zinfendel left around the porch and garden... they FILL UP FAST with dead earwigs! so Now I am going to try the plastic butter containers with holes and a lid... with White Zinfendel and see how that works...

Hope this helps.
I am New Here...
Feel Free to cut and past this to other lists with earwig problems.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2006 at 3:37AM
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cool william! so you have boozers, eh?

i think your variation of the newspaper trick is ingenious. i'll bet it works a lot better. i have also had a container plant issue lately and must retry the de!

thanks much!

p.s. inadvertently i learned dry cat food also works well. but, instead of poisoning my cat, and i am always afraid he will eat the earwigs with his food, i poured very hot to boiling water into the dish full of earwigs and catfood. i then left it that way. might as well feed the birds! well, i dont' know whether it evaporated in less than two days, the birds got to it while leaving a couple of earwigs, or if the racoons i have sighted were interested.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 2:18AM
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I found out by accident that they can't resist teriyaki sauce! DH left a tupperware out uncovered with the teriyaki that was marinating mushrooms. I know alot of people use a combination of soy sauce and oil, and place them in shallow containers in the garden. This isn't an option for me right now with all the rain we're getting, so I started using those container traps for yellow jackets. The tops are covered, and they have holes beneath the cover, so rain water won't get in. I fill halfway with teriyaki. I also have a solo cup on the deck, which is protected from the elements, which has been attracting and drowning ALOT of earwigs.

As many as I have, and as much as they disgust me, they really don't do alot of damage, for me anyway...

    Bookmark   July 3, 2006 at 9:02AM
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Ok - so the earwig problem at my house is getting impossible! They have infiltrated my window boxes and now are climbing thru any small space they can slither in from (they are brand new windows so it's not like they are creeky, old ones!). I don't know what to do and it is creeping me out!

My window boxes are my pride and joy. I just convinced my husband to let me put them up after a 7yr battle where I finally convinced him that they would not attract bugs! Boy am I in trouble! And, I cannot keep my windows closed all the time - after all, it's summer!

I did douse my front garden with an organic garlic oil based insecticide and feeder today after having fantastic success with a garlic defense system against critters of the furry type. Hey - I'm trying anything. I got to say tho, I just came in from a night time inspection and my plants are earwig and other bugs FREE!

Now, I guess I'll have to maybe re-think keeping the windows closed a day or two and give my boxes a heeping helping of my garlic stuff! Ya, it does STINK!

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 12:49AM
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lots of great tips here-thanks for the info everyone. i am knee-deep in earwigs right now myself, and i have young pole-beans in grave danger. i will be putting some of these ideas to good use in the next week or so.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2008 at 12:17AM
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The reason DE is not classified in the way that makes the most sense to you and I is because it lacks carbon.

"It may surprise you to know that most pesticides are in fact, organic by definition. Since these products contain an element in their molecules known as carbon, they fall into the class of organic chemistry. On the other hand what we normally think of as organic or green products are really inorganic because they lack carbon. Additionally most of these are natural minerals such as diatomaceous earth, boric acid and silica gel which every Âorganic pest control company boasts of using." source; /naturally confused article

I wish I could help you with your earwigs problem toad but I think you may need to come to terms with using some standard pest control methods to get your gardens balance back to normal. Then with a fresh start the other methods discussed would work fine. (I mean no disrespect for your stand against chemicals) Just trying to help.

Good Luck

Here is a link that might be useful: Earwigs

    Bookmark   June 24, 2009 at 6:40PM
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Before I read this post, I discovered my outside lambs ear kept getting large holes in the leaves. Last night when I looked outside to see what is eating it at night, it was covered in earwigs. I remembered that CINNAMON (the ground spice) keeps fungus knats out of soil and is helpful as an insect repellent so I sprinkled cinnamon over the plant leaves heavily. The ear wigs left immediately! Time will tell if this is a permanent solution but I'm happy with the results so far!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:57PM
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Hi it's my first email post...I had a BIG EARWIG problem in my garden about 6years ago I tried every chemical that my local garden centre to told me use!!! it kept the earwigs undercontrol but i wanted them gone.. so in desperation i used household flea spray and to my surprise it worked..But there back with vengeance so i'm going to try it again..

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 7:59AM
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this is a...really graphic thread...ick. I would advise reading here for good DIY tips on getting rid of earwigs. Also, here for organic earwig control. Seriously, good luck with your earwig problems everyone! I can't even imagine having hundreds just hidden somewhere, yuck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pest Control

    Bookmark   June 20, 2011 at 11:30AM
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