I made a very sad discovery this weekend, and thought I should share this with you, in hopes of helping all of you avoid this terrible fate.
I was checking on my leafcutter bee nesting blocks and noticed two of the rows, which had been capped with leaves this year, were open! This shouldn’t happen until next Spring! This prompted me to inspect the nesting block, and sure enough, I found an intruder, a very hungry intruder!! Earwigs! I have never liked earwigs and this took the cake! As I went through the nesting block, layer by layer, I found egg cell and egg cell had been chewed through and its contents consumed! I was horrified when I found this, and felt quite saddened by this demise, as we had a successful nesting block the first season in doing this!
If you look closely, you can see a trail of pollen and earwig poop just under the leafy egg cells.
When I lifted this group of cells, there was a tunnel chewed through the center of all of them, leaving nothing but dust behind.
As it turns out, earwigs are predators to developing native bee larvae and will consume the pollen and nectar provisions as well. The leafy egg cells are like a gourmet lunch package to the piggish earwigs. They just chew through every egg cell until there is nothing left but a remnant powder of remaining pollen provisions. So, what can we do to prevent this from ever happening again?
Rid the Earth of all earwigs!! Just kidding, they do have a purpose in the balance of the insect world, as well as a role in the cycle of decaying matter. We need to coexist with these ugly little creatures, and there is a way to bait them away from the bee house.
Earwigs are attracted to moisture, and this is how you bait them, here’s how. Roll up newspaper and dampen it, and then hang it near the bee house, not too close, but close enough to be a distraction from those delicious gourmet bee meal packages. I imagine removing the newspaper once weekly and emptying it of the earwigs would be wise. I plan to employ this tactic for the remainder of the warm weeks here and all of next bee season!
On a positive note, I do have a few egg cells still intact, so hopefully that means the bees inside are okay and will pollinate my garden next year!
Look at the beauty of this construction! I’m looking forward to meeting these bees next year!
Thank you for joining the movement!