Earwig damage is about to be apparent in Utah crops as the peak of the summer is fast approaching. While earwigs are occasionally helpful, they can also be a concerning pest. Utah State University Extension offers some light on how to control these insects.
Adult earwigs overwinter and emerge in the spring to lay eggs. Females protect their nest of eggs until they hatch, which is around mid-May in Northern Utah. Once hatched and developed, the earwigs start to disperse and cause damage to crops. Soon they, too, will overwinter and emerge in the spring to start the cycle again.
The damage to crops comes from earwigs’ eating habits. These insects do some good by eating other common pests such as aphids, scales, caterpillars, maggots and mites, however they will feed on plants and fruit.
Earwigs prefer to bore directly into ripe and ready fruit. They also feed on buds, leaves and flowers, creating all kinds of plant damage. The broad diet and destructive habits of earwigs merit preventive and control methods.
Fortunately, you can set multiple cheap earwig traps up using common household items. Rolling up sheets of cardboard or newspaper and placing it in a garden or tied to a tree can be an effective trap. Earwigs will seek shelter in these structures during the daytime. Bait can be added to make these structures more attractive to earwigs.
Earwigs are also attracted to oils. Punching holes in old yogurt or sour cream containers, adding some seafood or bacon oils, and placing them in a garden can be a good way to trap the insects.
Earwigs are also weak fliers. Some simple sticky traps or duct tape around a garden can be helpful in catching them. All traps, whatever style they are, must be checked and replaced every few days to remain effective.
Insecticides are another option for reducing earwig populations. There are several that can work, but always follow label instructions for how and where to apply the chemicals.
If you have more questions please reach out to the Extension office, (435)752-6263. We would be happy to help.