Earwigs in the Landscape

Earwigs are outdoor insects that hide during the day in damp areas such as under mulch, dead leaves, logs, and piles of firewood, boards, stones and other debris or in rotted wood. They are active at night and wander in search of food and moisture. Earwigs feed on a wide variety of materials including decaying organic matter, other insects, and plants such as vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants. Earwigs are easy to recognize by the prominent pincers or forceps on the end of the abdomen. Adults are about 5/8 inch long and dark brown with a reddish head and pale yellow-brown legs. Earwigs may become a household pest as an accidental invader when the wander indoors by accident. They do not cause any harm or destruction inside the house. They are merely an annoyance or nuisance because of their presence and can be swept or picked up and discarded. Outdoor control techniques include the following: Eliminate damp, moist conditions near the house to the extent possible. Repair dripping faucets and air-conditioning units and channel water from rain gutters and spouts away from the house foundation. Remove landscape mulch and debris (wood chips, gravel, old boards and bricks, etc.) from against the house and in areas of high numbers. Consider trapping and physically destroying earwigs. Place burlap bags, boards, newspapers or other materials on the ground, then daily collect individuals that congregate under the cover and discard. As a last resort insecticides can be sprayed around the house or in earwig habitats to reduce the population. Select a home garden or turfgrass insecticide such as carbaryl (Sevin), cyfluthrin, permethrin, etc. labeled for this purpose and apply according to label directions. Applications in late afternoon are preferred. Use sufficient spray water (or post-treatment irrigation) to move the insecticide through mulch materials to the hiding places underneath.

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