Get rid of earwigs. Have you ever planted out a new raised bed full of tender seedlings only to wake up the next day and find that they are decimated by ear wigs? I definitely have. And if I do not do something to this bed tonight, I might find myself a sufferer of that same fate tomorrow. Kevin Espiritu here from Epic Gardening where it is my goal to help you grow a greener thumb. And part of that is making sure that your tender young seedlings actually make it through to their adult stage so you have those nice Epic harvests. Now earwigs are a pest, but not really. They actually do quite a bit of biological control.
They eat soft-bodied insects, insect eggs. Plus they are prolific eaters of aphids. So they are not really bad per se, but it is just how you think about them. And there is such a thing as too much. So in this video we are going to talk about how to identify them. What they like to eat, how they like to live, how they reproduce. And then at the end of the video, I will give you a couple different trapping options that are super effective even on a low budget. So without further ado, cultivate that Like button for Epic earwig immunity. It is hard to say. And let ud get into the video.
The first thing we have to know is what they look like. And these are one of the easier pests to identify by sight alone because they are about three quarters of an inch long. So they are big and they have these alien looking forcep type of things at the back of their body. In fact, I think these caused nightmares in me as a kid. Because the name earwig, with that little alien looking weapon at the back, made me think it was like gonna eat my brain. But regardless of that, the one we are focusing on is the European earwig. If you are here in California, like myself, there is a striped earwig that really is not that harmful But the European earwig can decimate tender young seedlings.
In order to combat a pest, you must know where it likes to live. So the keys with earwigs are moist environments that are protected from the sun and have some kind of shelter component to them. So if you see underneath my little nasturtiums here, this could be a good spot. But I have seen them underneath the soil. They can hide in half-eaten fruits, under wood chips. Under any type of mold source is a great spot to find them. And that is where they hide during the day because they feed at night. This raised bed here is actually the tall raised bed from my How to Fill a Tall Raised Bed and Save 60% on Your Soil.
So what I did there is I used a lot of passively composted yard waste. This is actually the perfect habitat for earwigs. And that is why I know I have an earwig problem in this particular bed. And I know for a second reason because I actually saw the entire life cycle of earwigs pop up when I put a seedling tray on top and I left it there for a couple hours. Then when I took it off, they all scattered to avoid the sun and the heat. Now that is really my indicator. So now we have to think about how to prevent and control them if need be.
The three things you can do to prevent earwigs before they become a real problem. The first thing that you can do is know that earwigs are actually the thing that are eating your plants. So the best way to do that is to come out at night. Remember they feed at night. Come out at night with a flashlight. Shine it on a plant that you suspect might be getting decimated by earwigs. And if you see them, then voila. You know that is the problem. Otherwise, some of these other tips will not really help you because you will be trying to prevent a pest that is not actually eating your plants.
Now the second thing to do is to remove anything that earwigs like to live in, if it is near your plants. So if you have a mulch layer right up next to a tree that you want to protect, you want to move that away slightly. You want to remove some dead and dying debris that will fall down to the bottom of your raised beds. That is another good idea. So just removing the environment can really help. And the final thing is they like a moist environment. So if you can avoid overwatering or keeping your soil constantly moist on the top, that can also help.
Let us assume, and I hope it is not true for you, that you have too many earwigs and you need to control them. What am I doing with this little tin right here? And what is this little tin? This is a tin that was once full of wild sardines, but I have kept the oil. There is about a quarter to a half inch of oil down there with a little slice of lemon. It is quite pungent if I do say so myself. I quite like the smell and earwigs do too. So what you will do here, and this is kind of similar to a slug beer trap, is you will bury this at surface level somewhere in an area that you know earwigs are.
So let us go ahead and do that right now. Okay. So I have got a couple seedlings right here that I definitely do not want eaten. But what I will do is come in and just nicely bury this right at surface level cause you want them to walk in and get caught by the oil and then they will not be able to get back out. Which is the whole point. And then you can slowly reduce their population. Now you might be saying, oh there are raccoons in my area, or something like that. Well then in that case you would use something with a cover like a yogurt cap and then you can drill holes in the side and the earwigs can get in but everything else is capped off.
So this is my little trap and that is THE most effective way to capture earwigs. Check it out guys. The earwig trap is already working. You can see there is a couple, this guy, this guy, this guy. You can see how there is different styles of them. This one is hiding under this big dirt clod and there is a couple there. Wow they are big! But anyways, this works really well. As you can see, there is already a few in there. I suspect these ones are not going because I am shining a bright light on them and they hate that.
But it is a great way to cut down on their population. Remember they are not a true pest, but cut down on their population just slightly so that these tender seedlings can actually have a chance at life. All right. One thing to keep in mind with that trap is that if you do not already have a pungent smelling oil, then you will need to add something like bacon grease or something pungent that is going to attract the earwig. But that is a really good trap idea.
Now the other one, if you do not have a tin like this or you do not want to use that, is to simply take something like this, like this magazine, roll it up, make sure it stays secure so you can put a little tape here. Now take this and put this in common areas where you think your earwigs are in your yard. So, for example, I would put it right here and then in the middle of the night you can come out and just pick these up. You can do it in the morning too, and just dump these into a bucket of soapy water. And what you are doing there is you are giving them an environment that you control, picking it up and then disposing of them.
And so you can do this over the course of the season to cut down on the numbers if they are too much and they really are eating your plants. Remember, earwigs are not true pests. They do quite a bit of beneficial work in the garden. So if you do not have too many, then do not do any of what I just suggested and let them be because they are going to eat your aphids, your eggs, your soft-bodied insects, and do quite a bit of beneficial pest control. But if you do have too many, I hope these tips helped. Good luck in the garden and keep on growing.