Ask the Bugman: Help stop the earwigs

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Q: We have a lot of earwigs coming in and would like to stop them. We have a company that sprays the inside and outside of our house every month, but he can’t seem to stop the earwigs. Any help you can offer would be appreciated.

A: Earwigs are rarely household pests and some people consider them beneficial because they feed on small insects such as aphids, fruit worms and spider mites as well as dead animal and plant material. They will feed on live plants occasionally.

Populations generally build up around foundations. They usually enter homes when it is very dry outside and they are looking for moisture. Some gardeners trap or cultivate them and introduce them into plum, apple and other orchards so they can feed on snails, caterpillars, beetles, thrips and other pests.

Female earwigs lay about 30 eggs and she guards them until they hatch. She will pick up each egg and clean the fungus off it if regularly. When they hatch, she will protect the nymphs until they are old enough to take care of themselves. They are very good mothers. So they enter homes looking for moisture, feed on a variety of pests that might damage your plants and they take very good care of their young.

If you still need to control them, here are some ideas on how to do so:

You can trap earwigs by setting out rolled up newspapers that they will crawl into and not leave. Or you can use a piece of corrugated cardboard. You can also trap them by putting out tuna fish cans with out ½ inch of vegetable oil, raisins, beer, bacon grease or damp bread crumbs. Put the cans near plants before dawn and check them every few hours. When you find them in the cans, just dump them into a pail of soapy water to kill them.

If you want to keep them away from your house, you can establish a dry zone by putting rocks or dry soil about three feet out from your house. Make sure your outside doors have door sweeps on them. If you can slide a piece of paper under your door, an earwig can crawl in. If you find some in the house, simply spray them with a mixture of water and alcohol (half and half) in a spray bottle with a tablespoon of dish soap. That will kill any bug. Or you can use Greenbug for Indoors.

There is no good reason to have your house sprayed on the inside with pesticides. Around the perimeter of the home is OK as long as you don’t have any pets in the yard. Pesticides are far more dangerous than any pests.

If you would like to subscribe to my monthly newsletter, The Bugman’s Insider News, you can go to this link: eepurl.com/jVp6D. In this newsletter, I will discuss methods of controlling common household pests without using toxic pesticides. I will have a section on how to control pests in schools without endangering the students, teachers and staff, and a section on how to control pests on pets without using pesticides. The next issue will have a section on head lice in schools and why there is no reason to panic.

Reach Richard Fagerlund with your bug questions at richardfagerlund@yahoo.com.


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