Death to Earwigs

Above is the problem; apple blossoms getting eaten down to little nubs, effectively sterilizing the tree.  No blossoms, no apples.  I was blaming everything from grasshoppers to finches for it, but a midnight foray with a flashlight discovered multiple earwigs (pincher-bugs) devouring the tender blossoms. 

Usually earwigs are benificial, feeding and processing decaying matter under the mulch.  The rest of the year they’re harmless, but this time of year they certainly have a taste for apple blossoms.

Above is a partial solution; Tanglefoot around the trunk and any adjacent structures that can act as ladders for the critters to get up in the tree.  This helped a lot, but I swear some of the little bugs can fly, as one or two still got up in.  Notice that you do not put tanglefoot directly on the bark, but on tap.

Above is final satisfaction.   A shallow dish of cooking oil apparently is irrestiable to the bugs.  They float and swim just fine in water, but sink like a rock in oil and die quickly.  I even find a bunch of slugs in some of the traps, an added bonus.   I have to put a trap like this just about every tree, but my poor blossoms are finally getting some relief.

2 Responses

  1. The earwigs are likely crawling up the stakes (not flying). You have to apply tanglefoot on them as well. Or get rid of them…I don’t particularly like staking trees unless it is a dwarfing rootstock that requires it which likely would not be good for your area anyway. Also they are too close. Sorry I didn’t notice this back when you posted it.

  2. Never mind, I see you did apply tanglefoot to the stake. Bad old eyes. Still don’t like stakes however, especially single ones and close to the tree.

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