The earwig is a common hard bodied pest found in humid climates along the mid-Atlantic and in other parts of the country. It begins appearing around early-mid May as small nymphs (Fig 1) and throughout the summer they molt into adults and develop large pincers on their hind ends for defense. They hide during the day in any place devoid of light such as mulch, gravel, cracks and crevices. They come out at night to feed on various plants to include hops. Many growers may not even realize they have earwigs until they wake up one morning and see lots of leaves chewed up, but no visible pests. They simply chalk it up to Japanese Beetles, even though the few beetles they might find cannot account for the level of damage they see. The damage appears similar to Japanese Beetles (Fig 2) and can be minor to extremely severe depending on time of year and infestation levels.
Controls are difficult due to the pests nocturnal nature. Home growers can use products containing Carbryl such as Sevin ® to control this past. Unfortunately commercial growers do not have an approved synthetic pesticide that is currently available for control of earwigs in the mid-Atlantic. Other controls such as Surround WG and Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can be applied as deterrents. Azadirachtin, an organic pesticide, is labeled for use on earwigs but must be applied early in the insets molting stages to be effective. Several granular products are offered to control earwigs on the ground. At Mountain View Hops (MVH) we have determined that this can help reduce total earwig infestation levels significantly if applied around early May on all mulched areas near or around the poles in our hop yard.
(Fig 1) Earwig nymphs in early spring
(Fig 2) Skeletonized leaf damage from nocturnal earwig feeding
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