The summer months usually produce a high population of earwigs in Utah, especially when our area has experienced a very wet spring. This contributes to very good reproductive conditions for this occasional home invader. Once temperatures begin to break 80 degrees and continue to climb, earwigs will become more apparent and noticeable in and around the home.
Earwig infestations will normally be found in areas around the foundation of a structure where stones, debris, pots or other materials make contact with the soil. Removing these items from the environment should assist in reducing habits for earwigs. If it is not possible or practical to reduce harborage areas then insecticides may be used to reduce populations. Because earwigs are beneficial due to their predaceous and decomposer feeding habits, earwig pest control should only be used when they are causing harm.
The most common type of earwig found in the yards of Utah’s residents, is an exotic species called the European earwig. These earwigs are easy to recognize from their cerci, which is the large, pincer-like appendages on the hind end. Cerci are used in self-defense and courtship and will deliver only a mild pinch to humans. The earwigs body is elongated, flat and red-brown in color. Earwigs range in length from one-fourth inch to almost one and a half inches long. Adult earwigs have a short pair of leathery wings covering a folded pair of membranous wings. They are weak fliers and move mostly by crawling. As well as their unpleasant appearance, earwigs can also emit a foul smelling, yellow-brown liquid from their scent glands.
They are omnivorous and will scavenge on dead insects, decayed organic matter, and prey on live insects. Earwigs are nocturnal so if injury to plants is apparent but no culprit can be found during the day, check the plants at night with a flashlight. If shiny, slime trails are present, snails or slugs are the culprit rather than earwigs. If damage to garden plants is apparent or you find many earwigs entering your home, control measures should be considered.
Earwigs are pests outside the home because of the damage they can cause to ornamental and garden plants, and a nuisance when they enter homes seeking shelter and food. They are known to chew on living plant material including leaves, flowers, stems, fruits and roots. Garden plants commonly injured by earwigs in Utah include annual flowers; especially marigolds, dahlias and zinnias. They also prefer herbs, roses, berries, apricots, peaches, sweet corn tassels and silks.
For earwig control, focus on the outside of the home where populations increase during spring and summer. To reduce their entry into your home, create a clean, dry border using gravel or stone immediately around the foundation wall. Eliminate hiding places near the foundation such as ground covers, climbing vines, and weeds. Thick mulches, piles of debris, and leaves or wood are also great hiding places for these insects and will need to be removed. Earwigs hide under mulch plant beds during the day, so be sure to select mulches with smaller-sized particles to reduce refuges. Seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors, and the foundation of the home as well as cable holes in walls.
Apply insecticides around the foundation, flower beds and turf within several yards of the home. In late spring to early summer, suppress earwig populations by targeting sites where they congregate, and on plants when injury appears. Place traps in the evening and collect and remove earwigs in the morning. Effective traps include shallow cans with vegetable or other odorous oils, moist rolled newspaper and cardboard boxes baited with oatmeal or bran. Be sure cardboard containers have pencil-sized holes near the bottom for entry.
While some DIY home treatments may take care of your earwig problem, the most effective solution is a to call a licensed pest control company. Beeline Pest Control is at your service! Give us a call for effective earwig pest control at (801) 544-9200 today!