Earwigs

What Did One Firefly Say To The Other?… Gotta Glow Now!

The first Lumby and District market of the year was a great success even though the weather was breezy and cold.   I had to move my cucumber plants back into my vehicle by mid morning as they were definitely in distress with the conditions we were subjected to.  Thankfully they bounced back to good health quite quickly after their move.  It was great to see so many old faces even if only above their masks and several new people including some newcomers from the coast that are already in love with Lumby and area!  Welcome!  One woman who loves her basil spoke to me about an on going problem in Lumby that destroys her plants continuously.  That is the Earwig and they continue to be a big pest in the Lumby area.

I remember when I was young, lol, seeing a show called Night Gallery, where these nasty little beasts crawled into someone’s ear and was able to burrow into their brain.  This of course was fiction but still a terrifying idea and it stuck as people still believe this is possible. The name Earwig is from an unknown source having little or nothing to do with ears.  So what are these little pests and how can we control them and the damage they cause?

Earwigs can overwinter in the soil and other, convenient to them, dark, moist areas.  The female lays her 20 to 60 eggs in late spring and the offspring hatch in a week and wait in the nest doing their multiple transitions to adulthood before they too are out and feasting by early summer.  They can survive the cold winters to repeat this process in a horrendous, destructive cycle.  The adult male and female can be distinguished by their feelers, the male having long curved ones and the female shorter and straight ones.  They are non poisonous and non venomous,  they do not sting or bite but can pinch with the little pincers on their body which can hurt but they are not a risk to health or safety.  They can fly but prefer to scuttle along the ground and are quite fast.  They send out pheromones to attract others and hide in dark, cool places and come out at night.  They can enter your home through cracks in foundations and will get into anything they need to survive.  And believe it or not they can be beneficial!  As well as eating decaying plant matter in the garden they are carnivorous and eat aphids, slug eggs and other insect larva as well as eating each other.

Prevention and control is considered a community or neighbourhood effort.  The use of rolled wet newspaper or containers placed upside down with wet straw in them can be effective as well.  The paper from take out food also works well as they are carnivorous so the scent remaining in these wrappers is attractive.  My friend tried vegetable oil in containers but had no luck but after more research It is suggested to use something like sardine cans with traces of the oil left in it.  Bury these up to the lip of the can and in the morning take the tins, newspaper, food wrap or wet straw and drop it into pails of soapy water.  Use Diatomaceous Earth in your soil before you plant as this causes damage to their outer hard coating and they will dehydrate and die.  Plant early in the spring (weather permitting) to allow the plants to gain some size and defence from these pests as they love seedlings and the young tender leaves of your vegetables and flowers.  Note how they seem to be able to detect these from weeds!  Be sure to clean up all dead leaves from your garden and lawn, under hedging and shrubs and of course from around the foundations of your home.  

The next market is supposed to have a chance of rain but if the dry spring we have been experiencing is any indication I doubt that will be an issue.  Hopefully it will be warmer and less windy.  Many people have placed orders which I will gather and box to be picked up at the next market so if you are unable to come to the greenhouse you can certainly phone me and place an order to be picked up in Lumby on Saturday.

Thanks and Happy Gardening!

Samantha Nason
BS Ranch & Greenhouses
250 547 6567 • samanthanason@hotmail.com

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