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Earwigs and Japanese beetles showing up in Austin

This Japanese beetle and thousands like it have stripped trees in parts of southeast Minnesota.

A couple types of pesky insects are taking up residence around Austin, and no, one of them is not the mosquito.


They're earwigs and Japanese beetles, and they're popping up creating problems for plants and lawns. Not to mention creating a troublesome problem.

The bigger concern are the Japanese beetles, said Aimee Whiteaker, garden center manager at Dolan's Landscape Center, Inc. They are defoliating trees and disrupting lawns. The issue is that the adult beetles can destroy the leaves on a plant, but then they also lay eggs in the grass and the younger beetles (grubs) eat the grass roots.

"So it's kind of a double whammy," Whiteaker said. 


You can't see the grubs, but circular patches of dead grass is a sign they're around. The beetles are about the size of a pinky finger and have four white specks on each side.

Treating the grass with a grub killer can help to lower the number of beetles; it's better to get them in the grub stage, Whiteaker said. But since they're already a problem now, there are Japanese beetle traps you can buy.

Those traps are a hot commodity, however. Whiteaker said she can't keep them in stock. She said she's ordered them four times so far, 10-20 at a time.

"We have people just waiting for them," Whiteaker said. "Every time I order them, they're here and gone."

Folks may have a little less to worry about with earwigs.

Earwigs are small, skinny insects with antennae and pinchers. They're nocturnal and like cool, dark and moist places. They also like to get in to houses (unlike Japanese beetles), especially in kitchens, laundry rooms or basements. They mostly come around during summer in June and July.

"Not really dangerous, just a nuisance," Whiteaker said. "They aren't really going to damage anything."

Earwigs will eat plants, and the most common sign is holes in the leaves, Whiteaker said. They are also a food source for other insects, which they'll attract.


To get rid of earwigs, use a household insect control spray for a barrier treatment around the outside of your house. Make sure to spray around doors, windows and vents outside, as those are likely places where the earwigs will enter.

Use an indoor spray to treat along the walls and down on the floor. It also helps to pull out stoves or refrigerators from the wall to spray behind them.

You can take precautions by keeping houses and areas outdoors clean, which will eliminate places that they can hide. For example, a pile of wet leaves in front of a window well could contain a whole bunch of earwigs.

It may be too late to prevent earwigs now, but for the future, using a rose and flower dust or spray "can keep the numbers down," Whiteaker said.

The population of earwigs has increased over the past two to three years, while the Japanese beetles have been on the rise for the past three to five years, Whiteaker said. And she doesn't have an answer as to the reason, except to say that once they are established somewhere, they continue to survive.

"They've just spread to the point where they're here now," Whiteaker said.

She also said the earwigs seem to only be a big problem on this particular part of the region on I-90. Austin and Albert Lea may be seeing more of these creatures, but Rochester isn't. It could just be the natural population cycle, she said.

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