So, you’ve noticed chewed holes in the leaves of your vegetables consisting of fairly small bite marks that create large ragged holes, but no silvery snail trails. You may have earwigs. Here’s how to identify and trap earwigs in an eco friendly manner.
Identifying the Culprit
Not all plant damage is the same, so, our first step is to play detective. Combating the unhelpful bugs in your garden starts with identification. For instance, there’s no point laying snail traps, if your problem isn’t snails.
The best way to find what’s chewing on your lovingly tended plants is to venture out after dark. Do this about two hours after sunset, with a torch, and have a good hunt around looking under leaves and in amongst mulch.
I like to take photos of any bug that I find in the garden (I’ve found with gardening, memory isn’t the most reliable tool) then do an internet image search for accurate identification and information about diet and life cycle.
Surprisingly, Earwigs are not always pests in the garden. Many gardeners consider them allies who will prey on other insects, however, they are omnivorous and will feed on both living and decaying plant matter as well as consuming dead insects and other organisms.
Unfortunately, I caught my earwigs in the act of munching away on my plants and after a week of losing my newly planted seedlings, I decided it was time to act.
Note: I usually protect my seedlings with small cages covered with a very finely meshed netting, but this is futile against earwigs as they will just burrow under the cages through the soil.
How to Make an Eco Friendly Earwig Trap
If you’ve been on a nighttime adventure, spied and identified the enemy and found them to be earwigs, this is what should you do.
The best method for bringing earwig numbers under control is to lay traps for them. An effective trap can be made simply by using a plastic container with a few holes drilled into the sides and some oil as the bait. Any container will work, I like to use a container made of a slightly soft, flexible plastic as it’s less likely to split when drilling holes into it.
There are a lot of variations for earwig bait, some people find success using linseed oil, others like to add a dash of soy or fish sauce to the vegetable oil as an extra attractant. Another variation is to add an inch of water to the container and have the oil sitting in a layer above. The bait that I like to use is slightly out of date vegetable oil.
Setting the Trap
My container has a lid to stop it filling and overflowing with water every time it rains. As I mentioned before, the bait is plain old vegetable oil, the slightly out of date stuff from the back of the pantry.
I like to fill the container until the top of the oil is roughly 1/4 of an inch under the drill holes.
Bury the container in the soil, ensuring the holes in the side are sitting slightly proud of soil level. In high wind areas, it can be helpful to weigh down the container with a rock to prevent it from tipping over.
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