The Q&A Archives: Earwigs Eating Zinnia Leaves

Question: I'm not certain, but I think I have earwigs eating my Zinnia leaves. I see them in the Zinnia flowers as well as my Gerber Daisys (in the flowers/blooms themselves). I also see little black droppings, which are similiar to worm droppings (not nearly as big), but no worms in sight only the earwigs. Any suggestions on how to keep the earwigs away?

Answer: Earwigs generally feed on organic debris and other insects. Unless the population is large and there's lots of competition for food, they won't usually feed on flowers. They do like to hide in moist, dark places, however, and that may be why you're finding them in your flowers. The droppings that you see sound like caterpillar frass rather than something the earwigs would leave behind. It's possible for caterpillars (butterfly or moth larvae) to feed for a while and then crawl away, leaving damage and droppings as evidence of their feeding. Since you're not sure what's causing the damage, I wouldn't recommend you try to control such an elusive pest. As for the earwigs - you can trap them in one of two ways:
Put about a half-inch of water in a cat food or tuna can and float a tablespoon of oil on top. Place the can in your garden. Earwigs will be attracted to the residue in the can, crawl in, get coated with oil and drown. Or, roll a few newspaper tubes, moisten them, and place them in the garden in the early evening. Earwigs are mostly active at night and look for a moist, dark place to hide during the day. They'll crawl into the tubes in the early morning. Collect and dispose of the newspaper tubes each morning and eventually you'll lower the earwig population in your garden.

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