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Tips for taking better pix of your garden, wildlife | Daily Chronicle

The texture of this small cactus growing in a garden in Dallas, Texas, can be seen at close range. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.
A flowering Crape Myrtle in Dallas, Texas. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.
This July 11 photo shows a Dusty Miller in a front yard garden in Dallas, Texas. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.
In this June 20 photo, dew drops are seen on the leaves of lady’s mantle in a front yard in Mamaroneck, New York. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.
This July 11 photo shows Purple Coneflowers in a front yard garden in Dallas, Texas. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.
This July 6 photo shows a flowering Crape Myrtle in front of a dead tree in Dallas, Texas. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.
This April 2017 photo provided by Patty Hankins shows a Sunset Miami Tulip at Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, Maryland. This close-up photograph shows the pattern and texture details in the flower.
This July 11 photo shows cactus in a front yard garden in Dallas, Texas. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.
In this March 2016, photo provided by Brenda Tharp, a bright red male cardinal sits in a tree in eastern Tuscon, Arizona. Composing to place the bird on the left in the rule of thirds zone gives room for the bird to look into the frame and creates more impact.
In this Nov. 2016 photo, Japanese maple leaves blanket a front yard in Mamaroneck, New York. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.
This July 6 photo shows a flowering Crape Myrtle in Dallas, Texas. When taking photos in your garden, of your landscaping or in the natural world, elements like shutter speed, light, composition and lens choice can all work together to help capture all the natural beauty you observe with your eye.

So the garden you planted or enjoy each day is flowering. Birds and animals are busy in your yard or neighborhood. And you’d love to capture all this natural beauty in photos.

It’s so easy these days to pull out a phone and take pictures of anything anytime, but a little time and thought can produce better garden and wildlife photos.

“There’s a big difference between that for-the-record shot that preserves a memory and getting a really nice image,” says Brenda Tharp, author of the new book “Expressive Nature Photography” (The Monacelli Press).

Pause before pressing the shutter, she says, and consider: Is the light right? Can you give your photo a unique point of view by shooting from different angles and levels, moving to the side, crouching or standing on something?

Try to identify what it is about the subject matter that “stopped you in your tracks,” she says. “It’s really about narrowing down your purpose in making that picture.”

Some tips from Tharp and other nature photographers:

THE RULE OF THIRDS

Resist the temptation to center the subject, suggests Rob Simpson, an instructor in nature photography at Lord Fairfax College in Middletown, Virginia. Think of your photo as a tic-tac-toe board, and place the subject in one of the off-center thirds of the space. “It’s going to make the photo more pleasing to the eye,” he said. “It gives it balance.”

TEXTURE IS TERRIFIC

One of the most exciting things about photographing flowers and leaves is capturing something that passersby won’t see – their textures up-close, says Patty Hankins, a floral photographer in Bethesda, Maryland, who sells her work and offers photography tips at beautifulflowerpictures.com.

A camera’s “macro” setting lets you take an extreme close-up and keep it in focus. “It shows you all these incredible things that people who aren’t stopping to look won’t see,” she says. “It’s about filling the frame with small details.”

STAYING STILL

When using the macro setting, keep the camera as still as possible, Hankins says. “If you’re taking a picture of the Grand Canyon and your hand shakes a little, people aren’t likely to notice,” she said. “But if you’re taking a photo of the center of a sunflower, they’re much more likely to see it.”

A tripod can help. Look for one that is lightweight and can get low to ground, she says. If you don’t own a tripod, find somewhere solid to place the camera or set it on a bean bag or bag of rice on the ground, and use the timer to take the photo. Many cameras also have settings designed to reduce vibrations.

PRACTICE
PERIMETER PATROL

Before you shoot, scan the edges of your picture for buildings, outdoor furniture or other things that could distract from your subject.

LIGHT MATTERS

Often, outdoor photos come out better on cloudy days or when the sun is not directly overhead, Simpson says. The soft light that comes through on an overcast day will not cast harsh shadows, and may result in a more even exposure and better details.

“People love sunlight, but it’s not the right light for every subject,” Tharp says. “For intimate views of nature, opt for soft or diffused light.”

For landscape photos, however, sunlight can add drama. Consider shooting in the warm light found in early morning or late afternoon when the angle of the sun is low.

THINK 3-D

Having items in a picture’s foreground and background helps put the viewer in the photo and creates a sense of depth, Tharp says. When taking a photo of a meadow or landscape, include objects closer to the camera, as well.

Another way to create dimension is to angle the camera downward a bit, emphasizing the foreground and creating that near-far relationship.

ANIMAL ACTION

The best animal photos reveal the subject’s behavior or personality, Tharp says. Take time to observe the animals and wait for the best shot. But be ready to capture the action when it happens. Simpson recommends a fast shutter speed to avoid missing the shot.

Keep the animal’s eye in focus.

SHUTTER SELECTIONS AND APERTURES

Becoming a better photographer will mean understanding shutter speeds and apertures, Tharp said.

The right shutter speed can mean the difference between freezing the motion of a moving animal or ending up with a blur. When photographing something in motion – an animal, bird or waterfall – give precedence to shutter speed over aperture, which is the amount of light being allowed into the lens.

If controlling the sharpness of the background is the goal, prioritize aperture, because it defines the depth of what will be in focus, she said.

“Experimenting with different apertures and shutter speeds on your subject will quickly show the various effects,” Tharp said.

Article source: http://www.daily-chronicle.com/2017/07/12/tips-for-taking-better-pix-of-your-garden-wildlife/awueddy/

Garden Tips: Setting the record straight on watering myths – Tri

When summer temperatures climb into the triple digits, gardeners are very mindful of watering their lawns, gardens and container plants. But there are several widespread faulty beliefs that need to be corrected to ensure that you are watering wisely.

False Belief 1: Never water your lawn or garden at night.

The caveat of not watering at night is true in warm, wet, humid areas of the country. In those regions, plants do not dry off quickly, especially during the cooler hours of the night.

This high moisture situation is conducive to numerous plant fungal and bacterial diseases. In these areas, early morning is the best time for watering.

Our local dry climate with its pervasive low relative humidity means plants dry off fairly rapidly whatever time of day or night they are watered.

Because water loss due to evaporation will be less, it is better to irrigate during the night or early in the morning when it is cooler and there is less wind.

Irrigating at night or very early morning is most efficient, but gardeners may be required to water at other times of the day because of watering restrictions when the supply is limited. If so, follow your irrigation district’s guidelines.

False Belief 2: It is normal for the leaves of some plants, like those of squash, to wilt on very hot sunny days and then recover in the evening. It does not mean that they are drought stressed.

False Belief 3: When a plant wilts, it means there is not enough soil moisture and more water is needed.

These two beliefs contradict each other, but are commonly thought to be true by many gardeners.

Both are incorrect. Wilted leaves are an indication that a plant is not getting enough water when it needs it. The plant is stressed. Inadequate root systems and excess moisture are the two main reasons a plant may wilt even when there is plenty of water available in the soil.

Underdeveloped, restricted roots or damaged roots make it impossible for a plant to absorb enough water to support the top of the plant.

If a squash transplant has pot-bound roots and they are not sufficiently loosened at planting time, the roots will not be able to grow out into the surrounding soil to access the water available there. Likewise, physical damage to the roots from deep cultivation close to the plant will impair a plant’s ability to absorb water.

When soil is compacted, roots have a difficult time developing into an adequate root system. Similarly, plants growing in containers may not have a large enough volume of soil to grow enough roots to supply the plant’s water needs.

Plants growing in wet soil may wilt despite the plentiful moisture. This is because oxygen is excluded from saturated soil.

Without oxygen, the roots are not able to function properly and are not able to absorb water. Soil compaction and poor drainage are often the underlying causes of excess soil moisture. Also, persistent wet soil conditions can lead to bacteria and fungi infecting and killing the roots, resulting in wilting and plant death.

With our summer heat and the sun beating down on our yards and gardens, it is important to water properly. If a plant wilts or shows signs of drought stress, investigate.

Before watering, check the moisture in the soil and check the roots for signs of problems.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

Article source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/living/home-garden/marianne-ophardt/article163027658.html

5 garden tips for the week starting July 22 – San Gabriel Valley Tribune



Spruce up roses

Since rose blossoms don’t like long hot days, take this opportunity to tidy up the plants. Prune out sprawling stems and cut back growth that has become too tall — sort of like giving them a haircut. You may safely remove up to a third of the height and breadth, but retain a good amount of foliage to nurture new growth. Remove rose suckers by tearing them off at the base with a harsh downward and outward tug (and be sure to wear gloves). This usually prevents their return, whereas trimming off the suckers almost always causes more to grow back. And be sure to feed them within the next few weeks to encourage abundant blooms this autumn.

Time for a trim

As fast-growing shrubbery next to walkways and houses grows beyond its proper bounds and gets in the way, trim it back to shape. However, don’t just hedge-sheer or whack indiscriminately; that results in a bundle of sticks rather than a leafy pretty plant. Cut back each offending branch to a leaf or side stem well within the acceptable boundary so there’s room for new sprouts to grow several inches. This way the plants will retain an attractive and more natural appearance and be polite at the same time.

Orchid maintenance

Divide overgrown cymbidium orchids when bulbs fill the container and as soon as flowers wither. Remove the dormant leafless bulbs and separate the rest into clumps of 3 or 4 bulbs with leaves. Dust the cuts with sulfur or powdered charcoal to prevent rotting, then plant them in fresh orchid mix. Clean individual dormant bulbs and let them heal for a week or two, then plant them, remembering to keep the mix moist and feed them every 10-14 days.

For weeds only

Keep string trimmers away from tree trunks. Weed wackers work great on weeds, but many who use them often inadvertently cut away bark and wood near the base of the tree, effectively girdling it. Girdling stunts growth and can eventually kill trees. It’s best to pull weeds away from tree trunks.

Give nature a hand

Corn plants may be showing tassels now. Tassels are the grainlike flowers on the tops of the plants that release masses of pollen in the morning. Silks will soon appear between the leaves and stalks, and they need pollen to develop full ears of corn. Nature handles it fine when corn is planted in great quantities, but in a small home plot, nature may need help to complete pollination and fill up the ears with edible kernels. Using a small paint brush or even your finger, pick up some of the pollen dust from the upper leaves and daub it onto the fresh silks coming out of the tiny ears forming along the sides of each cornstalk. In four to six days you will have nice, plump ears of delicious sweet corn.

Article source: http://www.sgvtribune.com/lifestyle/20170721/5-garden-tips-for-the-week-starting-july-22

Tips to get your garden shipshape for spring | Community News Group

WINTER has the misconception of being a time for gardeners to down tools over the slow growth season.

But as the temperature lowers, now is the time to prepare for the warmer months.

Below are tips to maintaining a winter garden and giving it the best possible start to spring.

REMOVE WEEDS

Broad-leafed weeds can take control of the weakened state of the lawn in winter. As rainfall increases, weeds will begin to appear across the lawn. It is best to remove the weeds before they mature and set seed. For small areas, hand weeding is an effective way to remove weeds. For larger areas, control the weeds using a herbicide.

ADJUST THE MOWING SCHEDULE

In winter, because grass grows at a slower rate, there’s no need to mow the lawn often. However, don’t allow the grass to overgrow as this provides an environment for mould and fungal diseases to spread. To avoid creating a lawn thatch layer, switch the lawn mower from the mulch to catch mode. Control the growth of weeds by cutting no more than one third off the blades of grass, giving weeds less sunlight to thrive.

PRUNE AND TRIM

Winter is the ideal time to prune as most plants are finishing their flowering season. Prune deciduous plants to encourage regrowth in the spring. Begin by pruning dead and diseased branches, then remove overgrown foliage and smaller branches. This will increase light and air at the crown of the tree, as well as for any lawn underneath. In mid-winter prune large bush roses, leave only an open framework of three or four main stems. Also, prune shrubs that flower in mid to late summer, such as hydrangeas. Use a hedge trimmer to quickly rejuvenate overgrown hedges and create space in the hedge for air and light.

LET THE LAWN BREATHE

During winter, after periods of rainfall the soil is often compacted, preventing the circulation of nutrients, oxygen and water. Preparing the soil for a stronger lawn can be achieved through aeration. It is best to aerate the lawn when the soil is moist to achieve better penetration. Tools that can be used to aerate the lawn include a simple fork, spike boots or spike roller.

ADJUST FERTILISATION FREQUENCY

For most plants, the frequency of fertiliser application can be reduced by half in winter as they grow slower and therefore need fewer nutrients. However, some plants, like bulbs, winter vegetables and spring flowering annuals, maintain their growth rate through winter, so will still require nutrients to thrive. Fertilise citrus plants in late July to promote crop growth moving into spring. For the lawn, it is best to use a slow-release lawn food to develop a strong root system and thicker grass.

Article source: http://www.communitynews.com.au/midland-reporter/lifestyle/tips-get-garden-ship-shape-spring

Gardening tips from Master Gardeners – Springfield News

Q. I want to grow honeydew melons. Can you help? – P.D., Springfield, Mo.

Answer by Master Gardener Mark Bernskoetter

In our area, one of the diseases most prevalent is powdery mildew. However, there are some varieties of melon resistant to fungal disease — varieties such as ‘Floridew,’ ‘Morgan,’ ‘Earlidew,’ and ‘Tamdew.’

Other than that, honeydew is grown like any other melon.

About three months after planting, honeydew develops a smooth, evenly colored skin (all white or yellow, depending on variety) to indicate to you it is ripe. Cut the plant from the vine rather than trying to break or tear the stem, because it doesn’t let go as easily as most other melons.

If you pick a melon early, it can ripen at room temperature in a few days. Storing in a bag with an apple will expedite the ripening process.

Ripe melons should keep in the refrigerator for a week, but once you cut it up, it is best to eat it in a couple of days to avoid picking up the smells of other foods from the refrigerator.

Q. My gardenias are not blooming this year. I bring it inside in the fall and put it back outside in the spring for the last three years. What may be the problem? – S.W., Willard

Answer by Master Gardener Mark Bernskoetter

Gardenias have glossy green leaves and sweet-smelling white flowers. Without the aromatic blooms, you are missing the biggest part of the show.

Congratulations on keeping a gardenia growing for multiple years. Unfortunately, any stress to the plant can cause reduced blooming.

Gardenias should be pruned right after they are done blooming in summer but before it has time to set new buds. Fall or spring pruning removes the buds for the following summer.

Gardenias like moist, well-drained, acidic soil. If the soil it too alkaline, it reduces the chances of bloom formation.

If the plant did not get enough morning sun or bright light without too much direct sunlight, it can cause the next generations of buds to dry up or fall off the plant.

Gardenias are susceptible to attacks by spider mites, aphids, scale and mealybugs, and the stress of this infestation can prevent blooming.

Q. After my bearded iris are done blooming in the spring, I clear up the area but would like to have something more to show in that area through the rest of the season. – C.B., Springfield, Mo

Answer by Master Gardener Mark Bernskoetter

Some showy plants that can help fill in around iris to provide a show later in the season include coral bells (heuchera), daylilies, yarrow, sedum, salvia and black-eyed Susan.

You can also add something that will bloom at about the same time as the iris, for a bigger spring display, such as pansy, peony, allium or columbine.

Dianthus would be a flower to consider to span both the spring and summer.

Readers can pose questions or get more information by calling 417-874-2963 and talking to one of the trained volunteers staffing the Mas­ter Gardener Hotline at the University of Missouri Exten­sion Center in Greene County located inside the Botanical Center, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield, MO 65807.

Article source: http://www.news-leader.com/story/life/home-garden/2017/07/21/gardening-tips-master-gardeners/479278001/

Pesticide-free tips during Natural Garden Tour

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Important lessons on how to turn simple landscaping into something that looks nice and won’t pollute your yard with pesticides and chemicals is set for Clark County on Sunday.

The Green Neighbors Natural Garden Tour features 15 natural gardens. The tour is organized by the Clark County Health Department and is intended to give people ideas about garden design without using herbicides or chemicals of any type.

The Natural Garden Tour runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Clark County Green Neighbors — Tour information

Article source: http://koin.com/2017/07/21/pesticide-free-tips-during-natural-garden-tour/

Tips for monsoon gardening

Several main roads and at least one home in Nogales, Arizona, were flooded Thursday afternoon.

Article source: http://www.tucsonnewsnow.com/story/35923834/monsoon-gardening

Is your lawn stressed? Here’s what you should know about watering in hot summertime

These July weeks can be the hottest of the year. Tree and plant roots are not always able to take up enough water to compensate for the moisture lost by transpiration through their leaves. Low humidity, long days, shorter hot nights and high temperatures can cause wilting, leaf scorch and plant death even when the soil is kept evenly moist.

Wilting is the first sign of heat stress in plants. Cool-season lawn grasses develop a bluish hue and foot imprints remain visible for several minutes in lawns that are stressed by high temperatures. Branch tip dieback and early leaf fall are symptoms of heat stress in mature landscape trees, but those symptoms may not be visible for several weeks after severe heat stress.

FBEE 2020 ELINOR TEAGUE circle

All automatic irrigation timers should be reset in July. Bermuda and other warm-season lawns will require 85 minutes of irrigation per week on average; fescue and other cool-season lawns need approximately 113 minutes.

Watering times for lawns and planting beds depend on soil type and irrigation methods. Clay soils hold water longer than sandy soils and well-amended soils hold water better than non-amended soils.

Planting beds that are covered by a three- to four-inch layer of mulch will lose 70 percent less water from evaporation during hot spells. Plants watered by a single drip emitter or overhead sprinklers will need more irrigation time than those watered by multiple emitters, soaker hoses, micro sprinklers or bubblers. Plants with similar irrigation requirements should be grouped together in the same irrigation zones to ensure that every plant receives the optimum amount of water.

Citrus, fruit and nut trees will need deep irrigation every three to four days during the hottest spells-when the top 3 to 4 inches of soil has dried; mature landscape trees should be deep irrigated at least monthly during the hot summer months. Deep slow irrigation over a period of several hours will soak the trees’ root system which usually lie about a foot deep right underneath the tree canopy.

Container plants, especially those in smaller pots or barrels, might need daily hand watering, even twice a day when temperatures rise above 100 degrees. The soil inside containers quickly dries out during hot weather and the containers themselves conduct heat to plants’ roots, especially when placed in full sun on hard, hot surfaces. Placing your container plants on a raised platform or on saucers with wheels allows for a cooling air flow under the containers. Consider moving container plants into full shade under trees, eaves or patio arbors for the next few weeks. Take care of container plants that require full sun – the long summer days of 12 to 14 hours is too much even for these plants. They may not grow well or produce flowers in the shade, but they will have a better chance of survival.

Master Gardeners – The lawn watering times provided above come from the Fresno County Master Gardeners’ “A Gardeners’ Companion for the San Joaquin Valley.” The guide was compiled and written by our local Master Gardeners and gives detailed gardening information specific to our hot, dry climate. The third edition is now is available; call the Master Gardener hotline at 559-241-7534 or check the MG website, ucanr.edu/sites/mgfresno, for more information.

Send Elinor Teague plant questions at etgrow@comcast.net.

Article source: http://www.fresnobee.com/living/home-garden/article160201169.html

Tips for capturing better photos of your garden and wildlife

The garden you planted or enjoy each day is flowering. Birds and animals are busy in your yard or neighborhood. And you’d love to capture all this natural beauty in photos.

It’s so easy these days to pull out a phone and take pictures of anything anytime, but a little time and thought can produce better garden and wildlife photos.

“There’s a big difference between that for-the-record shot that preserves a memory and getting a really nice image,” says Brenda Tharp, author of the new book “Expressive Nature Photography” (The Monacelli Press).

Pause before pressing the shutter, she says, and consider: Is the light right? Can you give your photo a unique point of view by shooting from different angles and levels, moving to the side, crouching or standing on something?

Try to identify what it is about the subject matter that “stopped you in your tracks,” she says. “It’s really about narrowing down your purpose in making that picture.”

Some tips from Tharp and other nature photographers:

Rule of thirds

Resist the temptation to center the subject, suggests Rob Simpson, an instructor in nature photography at Lord Fairfax College in Middletown, Va. Think of your photo as a tic-tac-toe board, and place the subject in one of the off-center thirds of the space. “It’s going to make the photo more pleasing to the eye,” he said. “It gives it balance.”

Texture is terrific

One of the most exciting things about photographing flowers and leaves is capturing something that passersby won’t see — their textures up-close, says Patty Hankins, a floral photographer in Bethesda, Md., who sells her work and offers photography tips at beautifulflowerpictures.com.

A camera’s “macro” setting lets you take an extreme close-up and keep it in focus. “It shows you all these incredible things that people who aren’t stopping to look won’t see,” she says. “It’s about filling the frame with small details.”

Staying still

When using the macro setting, keep the camera as still as possible, Hankins says. “If you’re taking a picture of the Grand Canyon and your hand shakes a little, people aren’t likely to notice,” she said. “But if you’re taking a photo of the center of a sunflower, they’re much more likely to see it.”

A tripod can help. Look for one that is lightweight and can get low to ground, she says. If you don’t own a tripod, find somewhere solid to place the camera or set it on a bean bag or bag of rice on the ground, and use the timer to take the photo. Many cameras also have settings designed to reduce vibrations.

Perimeter control

Before you shoot, scan the edges of your picture for buildings, outdoor furniture or other things that could distract from your subject.

Light matters

Often, outdoor photos come out better on cloudy days or when the sun is not directly overhead, Simpson says. The soft light that comes through on an overcast day will not cast harsh shadows, and may result in a more even exposure and better details.

“People love sunlight, but it’s not the right light for every subject,” Tharp says. “For intimate views of nature, opt for soft or diffused light.”

For landscape photos, however, sunlight can add drama. Consider shooting in the warm light found in early morning or late afternoon when the angle of the sun is low.

Think 3-D

Having items in a picture’s foreground and background helps put the viewer in the photo and creates a sense of depth, Tharp says. When taking a photo of a meadow or landscape, include objects closer to the camera as well.

Another way to create dimension is to angle the camera downward a bit, emphasizing the foreground and creating that near-far relationship.

Animal action

The best animal photos reveal the subject’s behavior or personality, Tharp says. Take time to observe the animals and wait for the best shot. But be ready to capture the action when it happens. Keep the animal’s eye in focus.

Article source: http://www.columbian.com/news/2017/jul/20/tips-for-capturing-better-photos-of-your-garden-and-wildlife/

Garden Tips: Creatures I do not want in my house — earwigs – Tri

While I can tolerate spiders inside my house, other crawly creatures are not welcome — and I am willing to bet that you are not cordial to them either.

This past week I have found several earwigs inside my house. I detest these fast-moving repulsive little beasts.

The European earwig is a non-native insect that is believed to have arrived in the Pacific Northwest and other parts of the country in the early 1900s and is now found throughout the country. Interestingly, there are 21 other species of earwigs found in the U.S., 10 of which are native here. However, it is the European earwig that is most commonly encountered in local gardens and occasionally indoors.

European earwigs are a dark reddish-brown color and about half an inch long when mature, but the younger nymphs are smaller and lighter brown in color. Their most distinguishing features are their elongated flattened body and the nasty looking pincers or forceps at the end of the male’s abdomen.

As nocturnal insects, earwigs forage for food at night. During the day they hide in confined dark spaces, such as under flower pots or garden debris, inside rolled leaves or flower buds, and beneath mulches.

Earwigs are scavengers that feed primarily on dead insects and rotting organic matter, but they also nibble away on the soft tissues of some plants. They have been known to chow down on flower petals, lettuce and young tender plant leaves. They leave behind irregular holes and ragged edges. European earwigs also create holes or shallow pits on the surface of the fruit of some crops, such as strawberries, raspberries, peaches and apricots.

Despite the possible damage they do to plants, many entomologists avow that earwigs are beneficial insects. This is because earwigs are omnivores and also feed on aphids, insect eggs, maggots and plant mites. Most years, earwigs are not a serious problem and cause only minimal damage to plants. However, some years their populations explode and they become pests.

When you find an earwig or two indoors during the summer, their presence is usually incidental. Earwigs prefer cool, moist conditions and sometimes migrate indoors when summer weather turns hot and dry. In search of moisture, they are most often found in bathrooms, basements and under damp clothing. When an occasional earwig is encountered indoors, it should simply be squashed or vacuumed up.

If you experience an overwhelming earwig invasion, experts recommend eliminating habitat around the home that may be favoring their presence. This includes pulling organic mulch three feet away from the home’s foundation, cleaning plant debris out of gutters and foundation wells, trimming back plants touching and shading exterior walls, and removing any wood piles situated close to the home. Block possible entry sites into the house using caulking, weather stripping and screening.

If numerous earwigs are present indoors over a prolonged period of time, it is important to look for and correct any possible moisture situations in crawl spaces and around plumbing.

In the garden, earwig damage is usually minimal, but large populations may warrant control measures. To learn more about using non-chemical traps to control earwigs, go to bit.ly/2v1pCBl. Organic and inorganic insect baits also are available to home gardeners for control of earwigs in food gardens. These are applied to the soil at the base of plants according to label directions. Always read and follow the label directions.

Marianne C. Ophardt is a retired horticulturist for Washington State University Benton County Extension.

Article source: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/living/home-garden/marianne-ophardt/article161525868.html