Contrary to the old wives’ tale, these nocturnal, 3/4 inch long, reddish brown insects don’t crawl into human ears and bore into the brain with their mean looking pincers. Earwigs do nibble on plants though-but they usually do more good than harm, since they eat decaying matter and other insects. Due to their habit of hiding in gnawed fruit, they’re often blamed for the evil deeds of other pests. Before you take action against earwigs, schedule a nighttime patrol to see if they’re responsible for the damage you’re finding.

Target: Tender plant tips.

Damage: Young growth is nibbled; leaves show ragged holes.

Life cycle: In fall, adults lay clusters of 20 to 60 pearly eggs in the top few inches of soil. The eggs hatch in spring. There’s usually one generation a year, though there may be a second brood if some adults overwinter and lay eggs in summer.

Control: Handpicking, trapping

Notes: Look for earwigs in cool, dark, damp places during the day. A loosely rolled newspaper makes a good trap.

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