Clematis vines (Clematis spp.) and coneflowers (Echinacea spp.) Host a decidedly unattractive pest which shreds their petals at night. The culprit is the flat, reddish-brown European earwig (Forficula auricularia), that includes a set of curved pincers protruding from its back end. It strikes all varieties of clematis and coneflowers across their respective growing zones in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 11 and 3 through 9. In its own defense, the earwig also eats the aphids, mites and nematodes which frequently plague these crops.
The Other Nighttime Nuisances
Mutilated coneflowers or clematis are not always the function of earwigs. Slugs also snack on the petals sometimes, but they’d rather eat leaves and stalks. Shiny trails of slime on your own plants indicate a slug assault. Check the plants during the night by torch to determine which pests they sponsor.
Roll Up the Welcome Mat
A garden filled with moist, dark hiding places attracts earwigs. They shelter under ground covers, weeds, rocks and mulch. Eliminate as many prospective lairs as possible and keep your mulch dry once you water. When they have nowhere to hide during the day, the earwigs may depart from your garden to get more welcoming living quarters.
Tempt Them With Traps
If you can not eliminate all the natural nooks and crannies once earwigs mask, confuse the pests with some synthetic ones. Fill cardboard cylinders, like paper towel tubes, with damp straw, seal them with tape at one end and place them around the plants. Slide the straw and the earwigs that sheltered in it after feeding into a pail of soapy water to drown.
Bait Them With Bran
For gradually acting earwig bait, mixture 1/2 cup of oat bran with 4 teaspoons of boric acid powder. Put it in small, covered cardboard shipping cartons with four or three pen holes along their sides. Set the cartons one of your clematis or coneflowers, topped with bits of wood or old plates so that they remain dry. Earwigs eating the toxic bait die in a week.
Fight Back With Flowers
Annual yellow or orange calendulas (Calendula spp.) And white, lavender or purple sweet alyssums (Lobularia maritima) — perennial in USDA zones 5 through 9 — make eye-catching companions for clematis and coneflowers. If you plant sweet alyssums, choose a sterile hybrid since the plant can be dangerous in some places. More importantly, these plants bring specialists in earwig management. Female tachinid flies which feed on the flowers’ nectar glue their eggs to the earwigs. Their larvae tunnel in and absorb the pests from inside. Over the summer, the housefly lookalikes may eliminate one-third of their local earwigs.
Spray With Spinosad
Fixing your crops with natural, bacterial-based spinosad kills earwigs eating their blossoms sprayed in two days. Spraying at night assures they will eat this, and keeps honeybees from being impacted by it. Mix a solution of 4 ins, or the label’s suggested amount of this concentration, in every 1 gallon of water and apply it with a trigger, backpack or handheld sprayer. Coat the flowers till they drip and repeat every few days until the feeding ceases.
Follow the label’s direction wear protective eyewear, a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, pants, shoes, waterproof gloves and a hat while mixing and spraying the spinosad.