Summer Insects Arrive

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Earwigs are very ugly insects that show up in damp, dark locations in the home and in the garden. They are long, brown, flat insects with a set of pincer on one end. Although they look mean and aggressive, they rarely pinch. The homeowner or gardener is more startled than anything else when they scurry into view.

Earwigs favor moist, cool places and are most often found in basements, mulch piles, under flower pots or boards or in flower and vegetable gardens. When the weather becomes hot or dry, earwigs will find a way to get inside the house where it is cool. They are most active at night and though they do eat spiders, aphids and mites, they also feed on small plants and some fruits and vegetables.

To keep earwigs out of the house, make sure that the area around the foundation is kept dry. Gutters, water faucets and air conditioning units should be checked to make sure that they drain away from the house. Eliminate mulch up against the house by using a strip of gravel next to the foundation Make sure that any cracks or points of entry at ground level are well caulked. When earwigs are found in the house, sticky traps can be effective when used underneath sinks or other damp areas. Insect sprays labelled for inside use may also be used. Inside infestations of earwigs are not usually found.

When earwigs become pests in the garden, insecticidal soap may be sprayed around plants where earwigs are present. They can also be trapped in cardboard boxes baited with oatmeal or bran cereal with pencil-size holes punched in the sides near the bottom. Each day the trapped insects should be emptied into a bucket of soapy water. Earwigs can also be collected in rolled up newspapers placed on top of mulch. Simply pick up the newspapers every day and shake the earwigs out.

These insects look a lot worse than they really are, but some level of control can be acheieved by using some of the techniques described above. Earwigs can be considered beneficial because they do eat some harmful insects but when they start to aggravate homeowners and damage plant material, steps should be taken to reduce their numbers.