The Q&A Archives: Controlling Earwigs

Question: This is my first attempt at gardening (beyond the novice tomato planting), and I am battling EARWIGS!! As it gets very hot and dry here in the Sacramento Valley in May (temps in the 100's already!), and remains that way until October---I am sincerely wishing to mulch my veggies and flowers. However, I know that the earwigs will just love this; so, is there any kind of mulch whatsoever in which they would not flourish? They do seem to be a little picky. My cantaloupe, sumer squash, and eggplant seedlings they ate down to nothing, but the zucchini could win a prize! I have used an insecticide with Carbaryl and Metaldehyde, but I would still like to mulch, if it will be more helpful than harmful. Thank you! Heather Naugle Sacramento, CA

Answer: You're right, earwigs do like cool, shady spots to hide out, which makes mulching a tricky proposition. There are non-chemical solutions to the problem, though, if you want to try a little more labor intensive, but safer, approach to earwig controlEarwigs preference for damp shade makes them easy to trap. A piece of hose, bamboo, or even rolled newspaper laid in the shade will attract them, and then you can do away with them by drowning or squashing them. To protect seedlings, surround them witha sticky barrier, such as cardboard coated with petroleum jelly, and if the critters try to scale it, they'll get stuck. If you don't have time for these procedures, diatomaceous earth sprinkled sparsely on and liberally around the seedlings and other plants will discourage them as well, as the particles are razor-sharp to insects. Diatomaceous earth is avaiable from Gardener's Supply Co. ( or ph# 800-863-1700). With these options, you should be able to mulch with abandon.

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