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European earwigs

European earwigs (Forficulina auricularia) have caused damage to canola seedlings in the Willaura region, in the Western district of Victoria. Agronomist, Cam Conboy (Gorst Rural), reports that high numbers of European earwigs have been observed in several canola crops. In most cases where a fipronil seed dressing has been used, the damage has been minimal. However, in canola sown without a fipronil seed dressing, the earwigs are reported to have caused significant damage. Cam said earwigs are easily found wherever there is trash from last season’s crops.

District agronomist, Phil Bowden (I&I NSW), says European earwigs are also present in some canola crops around Cootamundra, in the South West Slopes district of New South Wales. Minor levels of damage have been found in some crops, where the earwigs have chewed the margins of cotyledons. Phil says damaged areas are generally quite patchy and most canola plants should outgrow the damage.

European earwigs mainly attack canola, but will also attack cereals, lupins and some legume crops. When feeding they tend to chew the developing seedlings around the stem and slow plant development. The typical appearance of later foliar damage is shredded leaf tips and/or irregular holes in leaves. European earwigs range from 12-20 mm long, are smooth and shiny dark brown in colour with pale yellow legs. It is important to distinguish earwig species in order to make the most appropriate management decision and accurately assess the risk of attack to emerging crop seedlings.

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