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More earwig damage

We have received further reports of European earwigs (Forficula auricularia) causing damage to crops in various regions. We identified European earwigs for agronomist, Louisa Ferrier (JSA Independent), from a seedling canola crop near Lake Bolac, in the Western district of Victoria. Agronomist, Natalie Thornton (Elders), has reported significant damage to large areas of canola crops in parts of the Western district of Victoria. In at least one instance, a paddock has required re-sowing following an earwig attack. European earwigs have also been observed causing some minor damage in a few barley crops near Bacchus Marsh, in the Western district of Victoria. Consultant, Tim Condon (Delta Agribusiness), has also reported isolated instances of earwigs in some parts of the South West Slopes district of New South Wales.

Adult European earwigs range from 12-20 mm in length, are smooth and shiny dark brown in colour with pale yellow legs. They have distinctive “pincers” that protrude from their rear end. It is believed earwig numbers have increased in recent years due to intensive cropping and stubble retention. European earwigs are mainly found on heavier soil types. They feed on the developing leaves of seedlings, slowing down plant development, and in some cases killing the plants. Typical feeding damage is shredded leaf tips and/or irregular holes in leaves. Besides canola, they can also damage cereal and legume crops.

For further information on European earwigs refer to PestFacts Issue No. 4 and for images click here.

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