Battling Earwig Pests: As a gardener, I expect pests. And many don’t scare me too much. I am used to them. One who really makes my skin crawl, and who seems to love my patio, my garden, and my containers, is the headdress. I have spent years fighting these creatures and have reached some respite.
Pests and petunias of Earwig
As a child I grew up in a beautiful neighborhood with majestic and tall oak trees. I didn’t appreciate it enough at the moment, obviously. In fact, I was even resentful. I developed an early love for gardening, but the shade in our backyard limited the choices of plants.
As an adult with my home and many sun-drenched beds, I was finally able to plant my favorite annual that thrives in the sun: petunia. Imagine my disappointment when, apparently overnight, headdresses turned my beautiful flowers into a tattered mess.
With a little research I learned that these creatures adore the conditions I have provided. The moist and rich soil and the mulch under my containers and in my flower bed allowed them to thrive. They hide underneath and creep in at night to feast on flowers.
My tips and tricks for managing earwigs
Pesticides were not an option. I prefer organic gardening, so for some years I have tried some different strategies. Although I have never been able to completely get rid of earplugs in the garden in this way, we have come to an understanding and now they do much less damage than in the past.
- I let my flower bed with petunias dry for a while to water. The flowers were happy, but the mulch did a proper job of retaining moisture, so that it could water less often.
- I also put some diatomaceous earth around the petunias. I don’t want to kill all the insects, so I limit it.
- I lift my annual containers using bricks, taking away that particular hiding place for earwig-hungry parasites.
- Occasional traps have also helped limit the numbers where I don’t want wigs. What I found works best is a cardboard box exposed at night. A cereal box works well. In the morning they will move to the box for a wet shelter.
- Last year I finally started a heap of compost, a daunting activity that turned out to be easier than you think. I don’t know how helpful it is, but when I collect the earmuffs in the traps, I move them into the compost to put them to work, breaking down the organic material.
I still have headdresses in the garden every year, but the problem is much less significant. My petunias look better than ever and I didn’t have to resort to chemical pesticides.