vegetable patch management
pest control
DEFEND - earwigs
Illustration of male and female earwigs, courtesy of the internet
Illustration of  a male and a female earwig courtesy of the internet.

Illustration of earwigs hiding in 13 millimetre polypipe tubes in the middle of the day
During the day earwigs will hide in safety and comfort inside my 13 mm polypipe mini stakes that I use to stop blackbirds scratching up my vegetable beds.

Illustration of earwigs coming out of 13 millimetre polypipe tubes at night to feed on vegetablesAt night the earwigs emerge to feed on plants only to return to the safety of the stakes before dawn.

Illustration of 23 millemetre polypipe stakes being tapped onto a hard surface to dislodge earwigs.
When removing the mini stakes after harvesting a crop tap the ends of the stakes sharply onto a hard surface to dislodge the earwigs inside.
If earwig numbers build up enough they can cause considerable damage to your vegetables.  Here are three methods that I have used to keep their numbers down to a manageable level without having to resort to chemical pesticides.


1. polypipe tube traps
I discovered this method by accident when I began using 13 mm polypipe mini stakes to deter blackbirds from scratching up my vegetable beds.  I noticed that earwigs were hiding in these hollow tubes during the day and emerging at night to feed.  I quickly realised they offered ready traps for catching and destroying these pests.
  • When first planting out a bed drive  the 13 mm polypipe stakes into into the ground as describe in the Wooden Mini Stakes As Protection And Support section.
     
  • As you pull the stakes out after the crop has been harvested tap the top ends onto solid ground or into a bucket, which will dislodge the earwigs from inside the hollow stakes.  It will also dislodge some small slugs.

  • Either crush them with your boot or, if you have dumped them into a bucket, feed them to the chickens.
The beauty of this method is that you achieve two things with a single action.  Protecting your vegetable beds from blackbirds and keeping the numbers of earwigs down to a manageable level.  For this reason this is now the only method of earwig control that I practice.



2. rolled up newspaper traps
If you do not want use polypipe mini stakes in your veggie garden then the next best method is rolled up newspaper. 
  • Roll up some newspapers and secure their ends with string or rubber bands to stop them unravelling.

  • Place at regular intervals around your vegetable beds and leave there for three to four weeks.  Water the newspapers occasionally if they become dry .  The earwigs like moist dark places and will readily make their home in them.

  • After three or four weeks dump them into a large container of water or in your garbage bin.  Repeat the process on a regular basis, especially when earwig numbers are high.

2. pots traps
This was the method I first used, however I soon discarded it as I found it the most time consuming and the least effective of the three methods.  But never the less it might work best for you.
  • Pack  small plastic or earthenware pots with wads of damp newspaper.
     
  • Place them upside down at regular intervals around the vegetable beds and leave there for three to four weeks. 
     
  • Remove the paper wads in the pots by either placing them in a bucket of water or directly into the rubbish bin.
     
  • Repack the pots with fresh newspaper and repeat the process.
Photo of a rolled up newspaper earwig trap.
Rolled newspaper earwig trap in a vegetable bed.
Photo of an earwig pot trap on it's side reavealing the stuffed paper inside.
Earwig pot trap on it's side with rolled up paper inside.
Photo of an earwig pot trap in place in a vegetable patch.
Earwig Pot trap in place in a vegetable bed.


bamboo cane traps
There is another very traditional method that, while I have never tried it myself, sounds perfectly feasible.  It involves cutting bamboo canes into 30 centimetre lengths and placing them at regular intervals on your vegetable beds.  After around three to four weeks the canes are lifted and processed as you would the polypipe mini stakes.  Bamboo canes could also be used as mini stakes, however I think the ends in the ground would rot fairly quickly. 

If you have a ready source of bamboo then this method may well be for you.