There’s a hole in my plant!

Things have been growing brilliantly in the greenhouse, but a number of plants are sporting leaves with chewed edges and holes. I’ve looked over the leaves, no bugs visible, so who’s been munching on my veggies?

The chewed edges of the leaf of a capsicum plant

The culprit became evident when I look up at the polycarbonate sheets that form the walls and roof of my greenhouse. In the small channels there were a number of earwigs happily basking in the sunshine. I raked through the gravel that forms the floor of the interior and sure enough, there they were!

I grew up spending hours in my Grandma’s garden, she loved roses and in those fragrant, beautiful blooms lurked these horribly scary looking bugs I used to call “Eerrie-wigs”. I remember the fear I had for these horrible looking bugs, those pincers and the way they moved. I was totally convinced they would craw in my ears and do me a mischief.

As an adult my fear for them has departed. As someone recently settled in Australia, the home of some of the most dangerous bugs in the world, I confess to being relieved to see it was just the humble Earwig. But I have to say, they are still horrible looking creatures.

Having identified the leaf muncher it was time to see what I would need to do to rid the greenhouse of my unwelcome residents.

It seems trapping is the best course of action. The first organic solution involved corrugated card, Earwigs love damp, dark, confined spaces. Rolling some corrugated card and placing it is a dark damp corner should provide a hiding place for the earwigs. Once snuggled in the card they can be tapped out into water to finish them off.

Rolled cardboard traps small numbers of earwigs

Another method is to fill a small container with water, then pour a film of raw linseed oil over the water. Earwigs, apparently, are attracted to the linseed oil, they fall into the container and meet their watery end.

Raw Linseed Oil Trap with its first victim

I now have both methods running in the greenhouse. There are two small yoghurt pots containing the oil traps. At first, the outcome seemed poor, just one Earwig met its demise. So, I popped a butter tub over the yoghurt pot to create a darker environment. This proved key, over the next few days the numbers of earwigs trapped and drowned grew.

Better results were achieved by covering the pot with a larger pot to create a dark environment

The corrugated card was easy and cheap to install, keeping them damp is important and I have trapped just a few with these. I tap the roll of card over the linseed pots.

This last year has been a wetter than average year and the conditions are perfect for a boom in the earwig population, so I think I have a continuing battle to protect my tender seedlings from their nightly leaf munching.

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