In the Garden: Earwigs aren’t welcome here

There are several methods of getting rid of these unwelcome garden pests

I was hoping to get my first ripe tomato June 20 for the start of summer. I was off a bit but it came on June 29. This is from my Siberia plants and the earliest I have ever had ripe tomatoes.

I have to cover the top of the lettuce plants going to seed because the birds are collecting them for themselves. I managed to save some from the first plant but they cleaned up the head pretty good. I have another four plants just ready so I will have to be watching them.

Other gardeners have problems with earwigs. I wrote about them before. The life cycle of the earwig consists of egg, nymph and adult. In early spring, after overwintering in soil, the female earwig lays up to 60 eggs in the top section of soil. In about seven days, the eggs hatch and nymphs emerge. The female tends to the eggs and nymphs for the first two weeks. The nymphs are similar to adults, only smaller. Over a 70-day period, the nymphs pass through four growth stages before becoming an adult. Egg laying can take place twice per year (spring and summer). Adult earwigs will be most noticeable in July, August and September.

If earwigs are damaging your plants, there are some physical control measures available. Since they are active at night, check your garden with a flashlight to determine if earwigs are present and causing damage. I find the best time is after 11 p.m. In my hunting days, I would go with the flashlight in one hand and a little container of water with a few drops of dish soap in it. If you use only plain water, they can climb the side of the container and escape. I used tweezers to catch them and after four to five years of hunting, I became pretty good at it but I didn’t do it last year.

They hide often on the underside of the leaves and you have to be careful not to move the leaves too much as they will fall to the ground and they are fast to hide. Hunting on a windy night is a waste of time.

Earwig traps are easy to construct and very economical. Take a rolled up newspaper, a piece of corrugated cardboard or a paper towel tube filled with straws and seal it on one end. Place it in an area of the garden where earwigs have been observed. Check it the next morning and shake them in the pail of soapy water.

I had a lot of damage at the beginning of the season. They made lace with the leaves of squash and cantaloupe. However, after I mulched everything with my unfinished compost it looks like they are leaving my plants alone and maybe working at the mulch. Some of my plants had new growth and most of them are doing just fine.

This year I also have an infestation of snails. I found some information on the following site: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7427.html.

Snails seem to love irises and I found a lot of them while I was cleaning the dead leaves. I picked them up and crushed them with my feet. In the article, it says you can trap them with beer but I’d rather drink my beer and use other methods.

For more information: 250-558-4556 or plantlady1@shaw.ca

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.