Research shows earwigs help pest control

Pear growers should encourage earwigs into their orchards to help control pear sucker (Psylla pyri), according to East Malling Research (EMR).

EMR data have revealed that there has been a dramatic decrease in all stages of the psyllid bug this season at Childs Farm in Cooling, Kent, where earwig-friendly approaches are being trialled.

One simple measure is to include "refugia" - plastic drinks bottles containing rolled up corrugated cardboard - suspended from fruit trees.

EMR entomologist Adrian Harris said: "Some organic farms have earwig refugia in every tree. The longer they are there, the more popular they are with earwigs as they pick up other earwigs' scent."

Leaving alternate alleyways between fruit trees unmown also boosts predator numbers, he added. EMR urges growers to avoid applying broad-spectrum insecticides between May and October.

Another EMR entomologist, Csaba Nagy, insisted: "Too many earwigs are not a problem in top fruit."


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