The Q&A Archives: Bugs Eating my Petunias

Question: I have a bug that loves to munch away at my petunias mostly at night. It is about a 1/4 to 1/2 an inch long, brown in color with soomething that looks like pincers on its back end. I have my petunias planted in a window box which is attached to my deck in the back yard. This bug attacks the flowers to where when I come out in the morning I have holes in the flower if not half the flower gone. Please help me identify this bug and if possible offer an organic solution as I have pets that love to lay out on the deck right under my flower box.

Answer: You've described a European Earwig, a common pest in gardens, and one with some bad habits. They feed at night and hide during the day. You can begin by removing any debris in which they can hide, being sure to brush them off the bottoms of pots (a favorite hiding place). You can trap the pests in one of two ways: place rolled up dampened newspapers around the planter in the late afternoon. Earwigs will crawl in to hide and you can remove and destroy them the next morning. I just empty them into the compost bin and then replace the traps. Or, you can put an inch of vegetable oil in tuna or cat food cans and place them around the victimized plants. The oil attracts the earwigs and they will crawl in and drown. Either of these methods is safe to use around children and pets and they are quite effective.

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