We all use mulch in the garden for most anything we plant. It is just one of those things that we have learned to do and do it almost without question. Of course mulch has its place, and to you it is there to protect and nurture your plants. To an earwig it often means a cozy home. Of course those earwigs need to eat... and your plant is so nearby!
Mulch That Will Not Attract Earwigs
Earwigs driving you crazy? Spent all that time planting, watering and mulching your plants for earwigs to make a home? Let's take a look at mulch that will not attract earwigs.
What Do Earwigs Like?
To understand what mulch can be used in the garden that does not attract earwigs, we need to look at what earwigs do like:
- Earwigs' favorite flowers to munch on are: chrysanthemums, clematis, dahlias, delphiniums, marigolds and pansies.
- Earwigs also like to eat fruit and vegetables.
- An earwig's favorite kind of atmosphere is dark and damp.
- Earwigs adore organic matter.
So if your mulch is organic and used for fruit and veg, or any of the flowers listed, you are very likely to attract earwigs. If your mulch attracts earwigs in any great number then changing to a non-organic mulch would be recommended, or finding alternative ways of dealing with these garden critters (below).
What Is Your Mulch For?
When considering your next move, think what your mulch is for. Changing to a mulch that does not attract earwigs may be easier than you think; given that the term "mulch" just means a material covering over the earth.
Are you using mulch to suppress weeds or just as a decorative covering? To keep the earth cool, or retain moisture in the soil?
If you want a decorative mulch then consider changing to rubber mulch, or decorative gravel. Remember though that using stones and rocks can attract more heat to your plants - this suits Mediterranean plants, but others will need more water.
If your mulch is just required to suppress weeds then you may wish to look at alternatives, such as black plastic or weed barrier mats (landscape fabric). If retaining moisture in the soil and keeping the earth cool are the main reasons you use mulch, then either switch to a non-organic mulch, or use alternative methods to deal with your earwigs.
How Else Can You Deal With Earwigs?
While looking at what mulch does not attract earwigs, you may also wish to look at ways of preventing them, or dealing with them when they invade your garden.
- Fill cat food tins with 1/4inch (5mm) vegetable oil, and place them around the garden. Earwigs are nocturnal, so leave overnight and empty the cans the next day. Continue until no earwigs remain.
- Fill a small flowerpot with damp straw and hang on a tree or fence to attract earwigs, and again empty the next day, or use them as natural predators.
- Earwigs cannot crawl backwards, so use this to your advantage. Tape a sheet of corrugated cardboard to the fence or garden wall. Earwigs are likely to crawl in as they love cardboard and dark spaces, but they won't be able to turn round to crawl out again.
- Wait for earwigs to appear at nighttime, and shake them off your plants - catching in a flowerpot as they fall.
- Build a wildlife hotel in your garden to attract the earwigs to stay, but away from the plants that you want to use mulch on. Building an insect house will also attract more birds to your garden that will get rid of bugs naturally.
- Treat fruit tree trunks with Tanglefoot - a sticky substance that stops earwigs climbing up to get to the fruit.
Is It Really So Bad?
Remember though that if you only have a few earwigs, you can use these as an ally in your garden instead of thinking of them as a pest to get rid of. Turn it into a positive and remember that earwigs also love to eat aphids, plant lice and arthropods, that are capable of much more damage in the garden and to livestock than the earwig.
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