Slaters and earwigs

Slaters and earwigs feed on decomposing organic matter. If they are becoming a pest around your vegetables, you have probably added immature compost or uncomposted manures to your topsoil, or have a lot of semi-decayed organic matter in your soil. We get slaters in our compost heap but we don’t worry about them there as they are contributing to the composting process and dining in the heap keeps them away from the vege patch. Slaters and earwigs are attracted to stressed plants. Give your vege garden and any affected perennials a drink of seaweed extract tea (Acadia, Eco Cweed, or Natrakelp) at weak black tea strength. This will make plants more resistant to pest attack.

Slaters, which are not insects but related to prawns and lobsters, congregate in rotting timber, heaps of rotting vegetation, rock heaps, and shady, dark places. Remove breeding sites from the garden, and turn your compost heap regularly.
Someone told me that they are having great success drowning slaters in beer baits that I recommended in my book for snails and slugs. The slaters are attracted to the yeast smell of beer, as fermenting organic matter has a yeast smell (See post).
Jackie French recommends mixing one part pyrethrum powder to two parts plain flour, and placing baits in, or near, the dark places that slaters shelter in during the day. Try putting the baits in jar lids inside pots laid on their sides with loosely crumpled paper in the top to darken the interior.

Earwigs are slender insects with a set of pincers on the tail end of the body. They can be reddish-brown or black. These little pests will also feed on flower buds and fruit. They like to hide in confined areas in rocks, bark, timber and under debris. Earwigs can be trapped by putting crumpled newspaper into flower pots and leaving the pots on their side in garden beds. In the morning, drop the crumpled newspaper into a half bucket of soapy water to drown the insects, then refill the traps with fresh paper. Remove debris from around your garden to restrict their hiding places. If an earwig refuses to budge when disturbed, it is most likely protecting eggs laid in the soil beneath it. Dig down and dispose of the pale oval eggs.

6 thoughts on “Slaters and earwigs

  1. I have placed 5 beer traps in my vege patch and in the morning, to my horror, found 8 drown garden skinks and 4 still alive, no slaters though. Will never do this again. Skinks eat slaters and ants.
    Sorry to hear about your skinks, Agatha. A timely warning for gardeners. Beer kills earthworms too, so used beer baits should not be emptied in the garden. Perhaps you could try mixing a small amount of yeast with a little flour and water in a jar lid and using that as a bait inside the pots with crumpled paper. – Lyn

  2. Hi
    I just wanted to let you know i tried the beer snail trap for my slater beetle problem and it works a treat! thanks heaps for the info.

  3. Hi there – Questions from a 6year old bug fanatic
    can anyone tell me what colour eggs the slaters lay
    also what colour eggs do those little jumping spiders lay
    all answers welcome – from Isaac G-B

    Hi Isaac, you have asked a couple of tricky questions. It is hard to say what colour slater eggs are because the parent carries them in a special pouch under her body. You might find this website helpful: http://lifeunseen.com/index21.php

    Jumping spiders belong to the ‘Trite’ genus that is found in New Zealand and Australia. They lay their eggs in a silken web and you would have to break open the web to see the colour of the eggs. You can see more about jumping spiders on this website: http://australianmuseum.net.au/image/A-Jumping-Spiders-silken-retreat-and-egg-sac/
    This jumping spider with the fancy name ‘Trite planiceps’ is found only in New Zealand: http://naturewatch.org.nz/taxa/51900-Trite-planiceps I hope this information is helpful to you. – Lyn

  4. Thanks so much for the advice I placed the beer traps and pots with newspaper in the garden bed and low and behold no more plants being eaten the traps were full of both earwigs and slaters. Thanks again for the advice. Marlo.

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