Jocelyne Sewell/Morning Star Columnist
Finally all the snow is gone from the garden, even in the shaded areas. Didn’t take long for the early bloomers to show their colours and the bees are very busy going from flowers to flowers. They love the crocuses. However, bees are not the only ones in the garden — I already found sow bugs and I am pretty sure that very soon I will find earwigs.
Today I will share some of the ways to get rid of bugs without harsh chemicals. You might have to repeat during the season but if you deal with the problems as soon as you notice them, it might work very well. All these tips are taken from various websites and forums.
In a small container mix equal parts of molasses or corn syrup, cooking oil, and full salt soy sauce. Bury it up to the brim wherever you have an earwig problem. Prop a lid or stone or piece of wood over the top, leaving a small hole for them to crawl into the container. The sweet molasses or corn syrup is the bait, the oil doesn’t allow them to crawl out once they are in the container. The salt in the soy sauce kills them and the dark colour makes it look like just the bottom of a hole.
Because I mulch my garden to conserve water and keep the soil cool, I have an earwig problem but you can keep an eye on the plants that are the most affected. Remove garden debris and excessive mulch where earwigs are living and breeding. Since earwigs seldom fly, a sticky band of Tanglefoot Pest Barrier around the trunks of trees, shrubs, and woody plants will prevent them from reaching the leaves and fruits on which they feed. Use with Tanglefoot Barrier Band or other waterproof paper and not directly on plants. This is very sticky and works well spread as a thin coat on yellow paper or cardboard to catch white flies and gnats around your plants. Apply food-grade diatomaceous earth for protection but has to be renewed after rain. Made up of tiny fossilized aquatic organisms, that look like broken glass under the microscope, DE kills by scoring an insect’s outer layer as it crawls over the fine powder. It contains no toxic poisons!
You can also trap earwigs by placing rolls of damp newspaper or burlap bags in areas where they are found. Collect and dispose of pests the following day. An other suggestion was to put an inverted can filled with damp straw or leaves on a stick and the earwigs will hide in there. Just check everyday.
Make a shoe box trap. Poke some entry holes in the outer sides of a shoe box near the base. Place a thin layer of oatmeal or bran in the box and put the lid on it. Leave it on the porch or other entrance area around or in your home to trap the earwigs. Earwigs hide in cool, moist places during the day and feed at night. They are unusual among insects in that the female fusses over her eggs and nymphs, and uses her pincers to protect them. Overwintering adults lay clusters of round, white eggs in the soil in late winter; larvae, which resemble adults, hatch in spring. Adults overwinter under garden debris, stones, and boards as well as in soil.
Next column will be about the benefits of baking soda in your gardens.
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Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in the North Okanagan and member of Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.