In the garden: A wide range of flowering plants such as dahlia, chrysanthemum and clematis.
On Crops: Occasionally will cause damage to soft and stone fruits such as strawberry, raspberry, nectarine and apricot. However, earwigs are also effective predators of aphids and other small plant pests.
Common throughout the UK and Europe
Earwigs are brown insects that can grow up to 1.5cm in length. They have a distinctive pair of pincers on their rear end. They mainly feed at night and have an omnivorous diet consisting of plant material as well as small plant pests such as aphids. During the day, earwigs find dark cool places to hide. Female earwigs create an underground nest chamber to lay their eggs in during the autumn. When the young hatch, they are cared for by the female for the first part of their life. The young then start to venture from the nest to find their own food, but return to the nest during the day. As they near maturity the young become independent. Usually there is one generation per year, although warm winter months and extended summers can result in two.
Earwigs are most notorious for the damage they cause to flowering plants such as dahlia where they feed on petals and young leaves. Earwigs will also burrow into certain soft and stone fruits, creating crater-like holes as they feed.
Since earwigs are effective predators of other plant pests it is advisable only to prevent problems only where damage cannot be tolerated. This is likely to be on plants such as dahlia.
Integrating earwig traps within the flowerbed and then moving the catch to a new location if likely to be the best policy. Traps can be made by filling plant pots with straw then placing them upside down on garden canes within the flower beds. Earwigs will walk up the canes and hide within the straw after their nocturnal activities and can be collected and trans-located during the daytime.
Avoid growing susceptible plants close to hedges and walls covered in ivy as these can harbour large numbers of earwigs.