Dear What’s That Bug,
I have densely planted the "earth" in front of my apartment building. Along with broken glass and mammalian excreta, one of the chief components, by volume, of this earth is earwigs. These can be readily observed with a flashlight after dark, teeming about. Many plants are unaffected. However, some will be set upon at a young age and razed entirely – a four inch high clump of poppies will easily be eliminated in two nights. I don’t know why some small plants are attacked and not others of similar size and age. Just as frustrating is the earwigs’ appetite for flower petals which are quickly riddled with holes and finally eaten to shreds soon after they unfold to the sun. Diatomaceous earth doesn’t slow them down (in any quantity). I don’t want to spray "poison" – What can I do?
Dear m r k n
According to Hogue, no one is sure of the origin of the name earwig (Order Dermaptera) but "one guess is that the early Anglo-Saxons, who named them earwicga (ear beetle or worm) and who lived in sod huts, where these insects also lived, occasionally found them in their ears upon waking from a sound sleep on a straw mattress. The warm and tight ear opening of a slumbering person might well have been a snug hiding place for these crevice-loving creatures." Earwigs are omniverous, and are considered beneficial because they actually devour many insect pests, but like any flesh eater, they
occasionally crave some vegetable matter, and what better than tender young sprouts and flower petals? If you have an aversion to pesticides, we strongly suggest that you clean up the dog shit outside your apartment.