How to Handle These Creepy Crawlers
by Sandy Swegel
If I were making a low-budget movie about alien invaders, I’d definitely use close-ups of earwigs to make the scariest monsters with their pincers coming at you. And no fan of Star Trek can help but shudder and remember the image of the earwiggy centipedy thing Khan puts into Mr. Chekov’s ear. Earwigs actually get their name from going into ears of corn, not human ears, but there’s a primitive cringe factor that rises in us anyway.
Most people never notice earwigs, but if you do get an infestation, you’ll quickly find they can wipe out new seedlings by chewing the stems and leaves. And in large numbers, they have no problem climbing corn stalks or fruit trees to get at yummy food.
It’s usually easy to catch earwigs…they gather under anything dark and damp such as mulch or an old board. Rolled up wet newspaper is pretty good because it’s a disposable container….just toss the whole thing in the trash. I personally let a couple of chickens loose and they find the apparently delicious earwigs in minutes and eat them as fast as they can scratch them out. If you have a serious infestation of earwigs, UC Davis has the best scientific integrated pest management protocol.http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn74102.html
This week I went to a bug talk by our local extension entomologist Carol O’Meara and learned a new tip about trapping earwigs. Trapping is usually the best way to deal with earwigs. O’Meara’s twist to catch the critters is to put out little bowls of vegetable oil and soy sauce. The soy sauce is an attractant and the earwigs are suffocated in the vegetable oil. An old tuna can and a couple tablespoons each of soy sauce and oil (some people add a little molasses), and you have a great trap. The folks at Deep Green Permaculture designed this little trap to give you an idea of the concept.
Happy Earwig Hunting!