From Down Under
BENEFICIAL EARWIGSMain points from an article in Acres Australia, November 1998, called "A Plague in the House that may be useful in the Orchard" by Tim Marshall
Condensed by John Allen
Tims article explains that here are both European and native earwigs in Australia. The native adults are larger than the introduced species, and the common brown native earwig has a distinctive orange triangle behind the head.
Earwigs can be effective predators on a range of soft-bodied insect pests, such as mealy-bugs, codling moth (larvae), and caterpillars. The native species are a particularly fierce predator of caterpillars and other soft-bodied insects and are also much less likely to become a pest.
In large numbers they become pests and they attack growing plants, especially tender growing tips, flowers and fruit. They can destroy seedlings overnight and may also invade homes.
They are a nuisance inside the house, but are harmless to humans, however, they will control cockroaches, spiders and other pests. They do not have the strength to hold on very tight to human flesh with their forceps. At worst they offer a mild nip. Take precautions with infants or toddlers.
Earwigs are often blamed for damage caused by other pests, and may be seen eating fruit opened up by birds and other pests.
Earwigs need shelter during the day and in very hot or cold periods. To reduce numbers, clean up old timber or iron sheets, where they love to congregate.
You can trap earwigs - the traditional method is an upturned clay pot, either on the ground or on top of a short tomato stake. Poison baits and insecticidal soaps can be used in severe cases of infestation, and greasy barriers (paraffin or any other greasy substance) on the stems of plants will prevent them from climbing.
Biological controls include birds, chooks, lizards, nematodes and parasitic flies.
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