As a plant lover, gardener, or house plants enthusiast, you probably know that pests can be a real problem for your plants. One common pest you may have come across is the earwig.
Earwigs are small, brown insects with pincers on their rear end. They are most active at night and can hide in damp, dark places during the day. Although they are not typically considered major pests, they can cause damage to certain types of plants.
This guide will teach you how to identify, control, and prevent them in your home. Learn helpful tips before the situation goes out of control!
What are Earwigs?
Earwigs are insects with curious features, including two small pincers on their rear ends. These pincers may look dangerous but are harmless to humans and animals – they mostly use them for hunting, defense, and sexual recognition. They mainly live in damp areas like soil, leaf litter, under stones or logs, and near waterways. They feed mostly on plant matter and some insects – though they don’t cause significant damage to crops or gardens.
These small insects also tend to get into places they’re not wanted, such as homes and greenhouses. As a result, they can be a nuisance. Still, fortunately, there are several methods of controlling them without using dangerous chemicals or pesticides.
How To Identify Earwigs?
Identifying earwigs can be quite easy. The insect has two prominent visible appendages, called cerci, which extend from the back of its abdomen like a pair of pincers. Most species in North America are around an inch (20-25mm) in length and are dark brown or black with light-colored stripes running down their back. Furthermore, they often have wings, flank membranes, and sometimes gills, although they cannot fly or swim. Earwig droppings resemble small grains of rice, so if you find these near areas where they may hide (such as under leaves, stones, or logs), it could signify an infestation.
Signs of Earwigs on Houseplants
Common signs of earwigs on plants include:
- Small, irregular holes in the leaves or stem of the plant.
- Discolored or distorted leaves are often caused by earwigs feeding on the plant.
- The tips or edges of leaves are damaged, as these insects will constantly chew on these areas first.
- Sticky or shiny residue on the leaves or stem is a sign of earwig excretion.
- Presence of earwigs or their shed skins around the base of the plant or on the soil.
To differentiate earwigs from other pests, looking for their characteristic pincers on the rear end is important. Earwigs are also small, brown insects that are most active at night and can be found hiding in damp, dark places during the day.
It’s also important to note that earwigs can benefit your garden as they eat other pests. In addition, it is important to consult with a gardening expert or entomologist to differentiate from other problems, as some other pests can also cause similar damage to plants.
Treatment for Earwigs
Several chemical insecticides can be used to get rid of earwigs, including:
- Carbaryl: This insecticide is effective against earwigs and can be applied to the soil or plants. It is a broad-spectrum insecticide and can be toxic to beneficial insects and animals. Therefore it is important to use it cautiously.
- Cyfluthrin: This insecticide is also effective against earwigs and can be applied as a spray or granules. It is a synthetic pyrethroid, and it is toxic to bees and other beneficial insects.
- Bifenthrin: This insecticide is effective against earwigs and can be applied to the soil or as a spray. It is a synthetic pyrethroid toxic to bees and other beneficial insects and should be used with caution.
- Diatomaceous Earth: This is a natural insecticide made from crushed shells of diatoms and can be applied to the soil or as dust. It is not toxic to beneficial insects and animals but can be harmful to humans if inhaled.
When using chemical insecticides, following the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions is important, including wearing protective clothing, gloves, and goggles and avoiding contact with skin and eyes. It’s also important to avoid applying insecticide on windy days or when bees are active.
Chemical insecticides can have potential downsides and risks. They can be toxic to beneficial insects and animals. They can also have negative impacts on human health if not used properly. Additionally, overuse of chemical insecticides can lead to developing resistance in pests, making them less effective over time.
It’s also a good idea to consider alternative control methods, such as sticky traps, neem oil, and beneficial insects like ladybugs, before resorting to chemical insecticides
Several natural remedies can be used to get rid of earwigs, including:
- Neem oil: This is a natural insecticide derived from the neem tree. It can control earwigs by mixing 1-2 teaspoons of neem oil with a quart of water and applying it as a spray to the plants.
- Horticultural oil: This refined mineral oil is used to control pests and diseases of plants. It can control earwigs by mixing 1-2 tablespoons of horticultural oil with a quart of water and applying it as a spray to the plants.
- Insecticidal soap: This is a soap-based insecticide used to control earwigs. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of insecticidal soap with a quart of water and apply it as a spray to the plants.
When using natural remedies, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions, including wearing protective clothing, gloves, and goggles and avoiding contact with skin and eyes. It’s also important to avoid applying the remedies on windy days or when bees are active.
The benefits of using natural remedies over chemical insecticides include:
- They are less toxic to beneficial insects and animals and have fewer negative impacts on human health.
- They are generally safer for use around children and pets.
- They are generally more environmentally friendly.
- They are generally more sustainable, as pests are less likely to resist them.
- They are generally more affordable than chemical insecticides.
Natural remedies may not be as effective as chemical insecticides, and they may take longer to take effect. But if used correctly and consistently, they can be just as effective in getting rid of earwigs.
How to prevent Earwigs?
Preventing earwigs from infesting your plants in the first place is key to keeping them under control. Here are a few ways to prevent earwigs from infesting your plants:
- Proper sanitation: Keep the area around your plants clean and free of debris, including leaves, twigs, and other organic matter. This will reduce the number of hiding places for earwigs and make your plants less attractive to them.
- Monitoring: Regularly check your plants for signs of these insects, including holes in the leaves or stem, discolored or distorted leaves, and sticky or shiny residue on the leaves or stem. If you notice any of these signs, take action immediately.
- Proper watering: Overwatering can create a humid environment in which these insects thrive, so ensure you are watering your plants properly and not overdoing them.
- Proper ventilation: Keep your plants in a well-ventilated area. This will help to dry out the soil and make it less hospitable to earwigs.
When purchasing new plants, it’s important to inspect them carefully for signs of earwigs or other pests. For example, look for holes in the leaves or stem, discolored or distorted leaves, and sticky or shiny residue on the leaves or stem. It’s also a good idea to purchase plants from reputable nurseries or garden centers, as they are more likely to have healthy plants free of pests.
It’s also important to quarantine new plants before introducing them to your existing collection. This will help you identify any potential pests or diseases that they may be carrying.
To summarize, the main points of the article are:
- Earwigs can be a problem for gardens, causing small, irregular holes in the leaves or stem of the plant.
- These insects have curious features, including two small pincers on their rear ends.
- Common signs of these insects on plants include small, irregular holes in the leaves or stem, discolored or distorted leaves, and damage to the tips or edges of leaves.
- Chemical insecticides and natural remedies can control such insects, with natural remedies being less toxic and more environmentally friendly.
- Proper sanitation, monitoring, watering, and ventilation can help prevent from infesting your plants.
Some final tips for dealing with these insects in your garden include:
- Try different methods and find the one that works best for you and your plants.
- Regularly check your plants for signs of these insects, and take action as soon as you notice any damage.
- Keep your plants healthy and well-watered to make them less attractive to such insects.
- Be cautious when using chemical insecticides and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions.
Overall, earwigs can be a problem for plants. Still, with the right preventative measures and control methods, you can keep them under control. Always check your plants regularly, and take action as soon as you notice any damage. Happy gardening!