Dolly26
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Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

I live in Colorado and have Poplars and Aspen trees. Earwigs are taking over all of them and eating them from the inside out. How do I get rid of them and save what's left of the trees or is it too late?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

Hi Dolly and welcome to the Forum!!

Can you show us some pictures of your bugs and your trees (close up of the damage and farther back to show the over-view of the trees).

Did you really mean the bug is boring into the tree and chewing it from the inside?

To my knowledge, earwigs can't do this. Usually they are a mixed blessing in a garden. They will eat a lot of other insects that you don't want, but, especially when present in big numbers, they will also eat seedlings and soft fruit. But established mature plants and hard fruits are supposed to be proof against them, which suggests they aren't equipped to chew up or bore into hard stuff.

Usually they eat leaves and the damage looks sort of like caterpillar damage. The leaves look torn up:

Image

Here's an earwig VERY close up and magnified:
Image

Here's yarrow flowers with an infestation of them, giving you a better idea of size:
Image

it is still close up and a bit magnified, but if you know what yarrow flowers look like, that will give you an idea.

(I had to look through a lot of very creepy pictures, before breakfast, to find those for you! ugh! I try to be non-judgmental about God's critters, but earwigs are some of the creepiest to me!)
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

Largely off-topic but when I was a kid someone told me earwigs were called that because they could get inside your ear and eat away your brain - another thing I think they can't really do!! Since growing some corn I've figured out why, in fact, they're probably called that :). But the stigma sticks and I find them creepy.
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Dolly26
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

Yes, the picture of the earwig is exactly what is coming out of my tree in the back yard when I take the hose to the hole and loose bark on the side of the trees. They have also bubbled up the bark at the base of the main branches. The only other critter I see around the trees are ants but not very many. All my neighbors trees are slowly dieing too. My leaves on my Holly Hocks get like that towards the bottom of the plants too. I usually clean up all the dead and bad leaves regularly and where my Holly Hocks are they get a lot of sun and its pretty dry back there. Also have some neighbors around that are not very good about keeping there yard up at all, especially the ones behind us! Our backyards meet. I can post some pictures tomorrow for you. Thanks!

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MichaelC
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

rainbowgardener wrote: I try to be non-judgmental about God's critters, but earwigs are some of the creepiest to me!)
I'm with you, sister. Yuck.

Dolly26
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

This is exactly what I'm seeing and the damage they are doing to my trees!
https://youtu.be/t57RK7-UXfA

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applestar
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

I think rainbow was correct in the first assessment and description of earwigs.
It seemed more likely that the tree is already dying and the earwigs are just taking advantage of a comfy place to live. So I searched for any info on "aspen trees dying in Colorado"

Here's a clue -- how old do you think your tree is?

Planttalk Colorado - Aspen trees
https://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1701.html
Nearly all aspen available for sale are collected, meaning they were dug out of the wild with little of their root system. Even after careful preparation and care, aspen still only have a life expectancy of about 25 years in the home landscape.
European Earwigs - 5.533 - Colorado State University ExtensionColorado State University Extension
https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-ar ... igs-5-533/

Earwigs like to hide in dark, tight-fitting areas during the day and often become nuisance problems as a result.
Learning never ends because we can share what we've learned. And in sharing our collective experiences, we gain deeper understanding of what we learned.

Dolly26
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

RE: Applestar, yes, I think your right! I was looking further and found out that the Poplar I have in the backyard is also known as an Eastern Cottonwood. Not a native to Colorado and doesn't produce the annoying cotton that fly's in your face. This tree is known to get a fungus called Septoria Musiva which causes the destruction I'm seeing and those ugly earwigs are hiding out in there during the day! Unfortunately it doesn't look like there's anything that can be done about it and the fungus can spread to other areas or trees, so it looks like we will be cutting down the rest of our trees a little at a time. The one in the back got attacked by a storm we got last night and the wind took one of the tall shoots off the top. Heard it crack and down came about 25 feet on to some other branches! These were all beautiful trees when we moved in 10 years ago. Its a shame to have to lose them all. Well, we can start fresh and will plant some good disease resistant ones when the time comes. Thank you everyone for all your help and great information!! This is a 5 star forum!

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pinksand
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

It sounds like you have your answer, but it's interesting how sometimes things in the garden just aren't as they appear. You see earwigs burrowed in the wood of a tree that's declining and obviously that seems like your culprit. I thought goldfinches were eating japanese beetles that were on my zinnias. Then I researched the birds and discovered they're vegetarians and were really just eating the zinnia seeds and co-existing with the beetles. Sometimes the insects I find that appear to be eating my plants are actually just hunting the insects that are really doing the damage. Always very interesting to learn something new!
Vanisle_BC wrote:Largely off-topic but when I was a kid someone told me earwigs were called that because they could get inside your ear and eat away your brain - another thing I think they can't really do!! Since growing some corn I've figured out why, in fact, they're probably called that :). But the stigma sticks and I find them creepy.
I had a dream as a child that my 4th grade teacher sprayed me in the ear with a hose and then earwigs started spilling out of my ears. I woke up with an ear infection :( Obviously the dream was scaring enough that I haven't forgotten and earwigs still give me the heebee jeebees :shock:
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Dolly26
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

RE: Pinksand
Yes, its wonderful to learn new things and your dream would creep me out! I'm surprised I haven't had that very same dream after spraying my tree!! Ewwww!

HandiestHandyman
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

I saw the title of this post and had to comment. I know you realized that earwigs were not the culprit, but here is a good way to get rid of them and other bugs.
I had tons of these things in my yard when I moved in. Literally everytime you moved something, 3-5 of them would crawl out from under it and we'd find a couple in the house everyday. I put out 6 plastic cups with half an inch of vegetable oil in the bottom. They crawl in, get covered in oil and can't crawl out. After one week, all 6 cups had about 100 earwigs in them (along with beetles, spiders, roaches and other bugs). I emptied them out, put more oil in them and got similar results the next week. The third time, it took a lot longer to get any bugs in them. Since then, I rarely see them in the yard and never in the house. Our lemon tree looks a lot better too, as the leaves are not all chewed up.
It was an interesting experiment, although it was pretty gross to see cupfulls of dead bugs.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Help! Earwigs infesting and killing all my trees!

did you bury the plastic cups so the rim was at ground level, or can they get in to them anyway?
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