Saturday, October 3, 2009

Aha.... Earwigs!

If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.
Sun Tzu

Last night I finally found some critters that may be responsible for eating the leaf buds off the passionfruit and gnawing some of my seedlings...

Earwigs! I managed to get a photo of this one on a strawberry leaf, but there was also one hiding out on the passionfruit.

While I was hunting, there was also a slug destroying an emerging bean seedling... May have to deal with that too- crushed eggshells?

Reading up on earwigs at sites like Sustainable Gardening I have established that they are known to nibble on new foliage and destroy seedling roots and stems. Apparently the key to keeping their numbers low is to "remove decaying organic matter" from your garden. All very well to say, but what do I do about mulch and a worm farm?

Instead I'll try to trap them- which should also give me a clue as to whether there really are a lot (which there are- I often find them under stones or in buckets). There seem to be three main attractants for them- a dark, damp hideyhole such as crumpled newspaper or rolled up cardboard, beer (or soy sauce?) traps and oil traps. I have decided compare all three for efficacy...

Beer and newspaper traps around the passionfruit

Oil and beer (partly empty bottle on right side) traps near the lettuce and strawberries. The oil trap is placed where a suddenly-wilting lettuce appears to have had its stem ringbarked.

Having set the traps, I now have to work out how to explain my killing spree to Big Bro. The beer and oil traps have the advantage that I am not directly overtly killing the blighters, but the ones in the paper trap will need to be disposed of. Warm soapy water seems to be the recommendation, but I am hoping that popping them in a plastic bag in the garbage bin might avoid any difficult questions.

I'm hoping that earwigs are really the culprit- it has been so frustrating watching things being munched without knowing whodunnit!!

Better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

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