Agriculture: Strawberry Pest Management Guidelines

European Earwig

Forficula auricularia

Description of the Pest

Earwigs feed at night and can be found hidden inside split fruit and around crowns of plants during the day. They are slender brown insects, about 0.5 to 0.75 inch (13–19 mm) long. They have a conspicuous pair of pincers attached to the back end of the abdomen. The adults' wing covers are short and leathery. The pest becomes most destructive as nymphs approach maturity from April to July.

Damage

Earwig feeding results in small deep holes in the fruit that can only be distinguished from slug damage by the absence of slime. They will also inhabit cat-faced or open-ended fruit.

Management

To control earwigs, destroy rubbish (e.g. discarded wood or other debris) near strawberry fields to prevent hiding places for them. In South Coast areas, earwigs may become a problem when they are present inside split fruit at harvest.

Earwigs can be monitored using inverted containers that are filled with shredded paper and have holes located near their bases. Examine the containers by removing the shredded paper to look for earwigs that have sought shelter. You can also use small cans, about one-third filled with vegetable oil containing a small amount of bacon grease or fish oil. Earwigs are attracted by the bacon grease or fish oil, fall into the vegetable oil, and suffocate. If significant numbers of earwigs are present, apply bait to the tops of beds, between plants.

Organically Acceptable Methods

Keep strawberry fields clear of rubbish and plant debris for organically certified strawberries.

Text Updated: 07/18