Pest of the Month: Earwigs

We briefly touched on earwigs and sweetcorn last week, so thought we’d delve in a bit deeper to find out what this little critter does to sweetcorn and other veggies in the kitchen garden!

Earwigs will eat small, irregular holes in the foliage of many veg plants, including beetroots, lettuces, strawberries and potatoes, and you may also find them hiding inside globe artichokes and sweetcorn cobs (they feed on the soil tassels and thus can prevent pollination of sweetcorn). The holes that they eat are often mistaken for caterpillar damage, so it’s worth checking at night if you’re not sure, as they are nocturnal creatures so will be easier to spot with a torch in the dark!

Like all creatures, they play their part in the ecosystem – they are good to have in the compost pile, and they also eat aphids so can be useful to have in the veg patch! Earwigs are relatively unproblematic, causing little damage to plants unless their numbers rocket, so for the most part you can relax if you see one or two earwigs in your veg plot. However, if they do get the better of you and your veg, you can try one of these three things:

  1. Surround the base of vulnerable plants with diatomaceous earth to discourage the earwigs from crawling onto the plants in the first place.
  2. Lay a piece of cloth under infested plants and give the foliage a shake – the earwigs will land on the cloth and you can gather it up and relocate them (to the compost pile where they can make themselves useful!)
  3. Put a dampened rolled-up newspaper on the soil between plants where you have a lot of earwigs. Over a few days the earwigs will most likely hide in the newspaper during the day and you can shake them out elsewhere in the garden before nightfall.