10 July 2013

Earwigs here, earwigs there...

earwigs, extermination, pest control, walla walla
...earwigs everywhere!

Perhaps because of rapidly improving summer weather and the desire of people here in the Walla Walla valley to spend time outdoors enjoying it, more people lately are encountering earwigs. We've all experienced the usual scenario when it comes to these - you move something on your deck or in your yard that has been sitting for a while, and suddenly earwigs are running everywhere!

Why are these earwigs here?!


Primarily, the reason you have a bunch of earwigs around your home and yard is moisture. Earwigs are mostly nocturnal creatures that seek out moist, shaded spots to spend the day - get them in the sun for very long and they dry up and die. Popular earwig hangouts include objects placed outside (coolers, planters, folded-up lawn furniture; just about anything), crack and crevice areas such as broken pavement slabs, the point where a lawn meets a patio or the foundation of your house, or in the cool, moisture-retaining environment found underneath leaf litter, mulch, decorative rock, etc.

What are these earwigs doing?

Earwigs are out there feeding on other insects, decaying plant and animal matter, and at times damaging living  plants in your landscape. One thing that they're definitely NOT doing is seeking out your ears - that's a popular myth that makes a somewhat scary looking insect more scary to people than it ought to be. Other than the occasional defensive pinch (which an earwig did to my foot last night while I was enjoying my backyard fire pit), earwigs are not going to seek out interactions with you very much, or at all.

How do I get rid of my earwigs?

Since moisture is key to an earwig's needs, eliminate sources of moisture in your home and around your yard. For the most part this will be an outdoor effort, as much of the earwig activity in your home is likely due to them accidentally wandering inside (however, be on the lookout for moisture in your home, which can be a sign of a structural problem that should be corrected). Remove leaf litter, grass clippings, etc. from the yard; move decorative rocks, paving stones, etc. away from the structure; store lawn furnishings in high and dry places when possible; clean and clear gutters and ensure that your downspouts are directing water away from your foundation, and so forth. Basically, whatever you can alter in and around your home to dry out the environment will help a great deal.

Chemical control is highly effective against earwigs, and in cases where an environment that favors earwigs cannot be altered - such as the point where your yard meets your foundation - it is necessary. A commonly available product that is effective against earwigs is Ortho's Home Defense:

This can be sprayed around the foundation of your home to provide some relief from earwigs. I say "some," however, because what this product lacks is the ability to deliver a high volume of spray deep into the places where earwigs find harborage (this is due to the relatively limited quantity of spray and the limitations of the application device it comes with, not the active ingredient). That's what I use my powered spraying equipment to do:

My equipment allows me to project the insecticides I use for this type of work deep into the places that earwigs hide, which not only kills the earwigs that are there at the time, but prevents other earwigs from moving into the space for a period of around four to six weeks.

The over-the-counter product I've mentioned here will help you to get a bit more of a handle on your earwigs, but if you would like a more thorough, penetrating knock-down of their numbers around your home and yard to get you ahead of the game, I can help. To treat directly around an average house in the Walla Walla valley area, I charge between $40-$45, plus tax when applicable (I work in both Washington and Oregon). While I'm at it I keep an eye out for other things I can treat for you, such as paper wasps, spiders, etc., which I generally throw in at no extra charge. If you like, I can also expand the treatment further out into your yard, which typically adds 50% to the total price for the job (the exact pricing depends on the size of the yard and the extent of the treated area, but the "average" house and yard around here would bring the total to somewhere around $60 before tax). If this sounds good to you, please email me or give me a call! I can typically respond very rapidly to this kind of work, often on the same day.

509-540-7946

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