Jeffrey Hahn, Asst. Extension Entomologist
Photo 1: Earwig found outdoors in garden. Note the second earwig hiding in the crack between the pavers
Earwigs season is beginning as immature nymphs are starting to turn into adults. They are pests when they enter homes, often in large numbers, and become bothersome. They can also damage flowers and other plants in your garden. Earwigs can be challenging to control, especially when they are abundant. Here are some steps you can take to minimize them on your property.
Regardless of whether you are dealing with them in your home or garden, you can reduce their number by using traps in the landscape. Use rolled up newspapers cardboard tubes, or similar objects and set them up outside where you are see earwigs. They will crawl inside these objects by early morning in order to hide. You can then shake them into a pail of soapy water to dispose of them.
Moisture management is also important. Minimize excess moisture by keeping irrigation equipment in good working order. If you need to irrigate your garden, water less frequently but more deeply so the soil remains more dry, making it less conducive for earwigs.
If you are having a problem with earwigs in your garden, you can supplement your non-chemical efforts with an insecticide. You can treat the mulch with insecticide, e.g. lambda cyhalothrin, or put out chemical baits, e.g. carbaryl, around the affected plants. You can also treat affected plants directly with any one of a variety of garden insecticides, e.g. permethrin.
If you are having a problem with earwigs coming into your home, check around the outside of your home and seal or repair any openings or gaps you find that allows earwigs to get inside. Check particularly around the foundation, windows and doors. Also examine where siding and foundation meet as well as the areas around water facets and vents. You can supplement this with an insecticide application around the exterior the home, e.g. permethrin or cyfluthrin.