“Mom, What Can I Eat?” // Nutritious After-school Snack Ideas

Snack Ideas




All family members can benefit from planned healthy snacks.  Planned snacks provide more nutrition and energy for work, growth, learning and play.


Prep Your Pantry

Build a weekly snack menu and that “what is there to eat?” question won’t be heard as often.

Here are a few snack ideas that can add good nutrition to your family’s diet.

  • Fruits and berries
  • Low fat chips and salsa
  • Grape tomatoes and vegetables
  • Frozen banana chips
  • Low fat yogurt smoothies
  • Cereal mix
  • Whole grain crackers and breads
  • Applesauce and cottage cheese
  • Graham crackers
  • Mini pizza on English muffin or pita
  • Low fat cheese
  • Low fat pita and hummus
  • Fruit juice pops
  • Light popcorn
  • Ants on a log (stuffed celery)
  • Cheese sticks

Fruit Peanut Butter Pizza

1 pizza crust

1 cup peanut butter

3 sliced bananas

¾ cup raisins or dried cranberries

½ cup chopped apples


Bake crust according to package directions. Spread peanut butter on crust and add the fruits.  Bake at 350 until the peanut butter melts.

This article was written by Carolyn Washburn, Utah State University Extension associate professor, carolyn.washburn@usu.edu.

Ask an Expert // 7 Foods You Shouldn’t Can at Home

Canning Canning is a great way to preserve the bounty of summer, but beware! Not all foods are safe to can at home.

Did you know that the USDA has tested and approved many recipes to preserve foods at home? There are many foods you can bottle safely at home, as long as you follow USDA-endorsed recipes and procedures. Some unique foods include grapefruit and orange sections; cantaloupe pickles; pie fillings such as apple, mincemeat and green tomato; chicken, venison and fish; hot sauce and ketchup; a variety of soups and many more. See the USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning for recipes and procedures.

Have fun trying out a new safe, USDA-endorsed safe recipe in your kitchen this season. But remember, the possibilities are not quite endless.

Be aware that there are many foods that cannot be bottle safely at home. Why is that? One reason is that home kitchens are limited. A boiling water canner or a steam pressure canner can only get so hot. Heat is one element that is needed to kill micro-organisms that could spoil your food. A higher temperature needed for low-acid foods (like vegetables, beans and meat) is only achieved at home through a steam pressure canner.

Some foods or recipes have not been tested, or have been tested and have not been found to be safe. In some instances, the lack of approved canning recipe is due to poor quality.  Here is a list of some common foods that are not safe to can and not safe to consume.

Canning: Mixed Race Young Adult Woman Preserving Homegrown Fruit

What Not to Can at Home


That’s right, butter. In some emergency preparedness sections of stores, you might see canned butter in a tuna-fish size can. But don’t get too excited to go home and melt butter into a jar just to stick it on your food storage shelves. For now, canning butter using any method is not recommended. Some methods are dangerous, at best; others are not backed up by science. Why can butter when it freezes so easily?

Hydrated Wheat Kernels (aka wheat berries)

Wheat is a low-acid food that is susceptible to botulism if trapped in a low-acid, low-oxygen, room-temperature environment. In addition, the starch in wheat may interfere with the heat penetration during canning. Insufficient processing can result in botulism food poisoning. Instead of canning, store wheat dry until used, or if hydrated, refrigerate up to several days. You may also hydrate a batch and freeze in usable portions.

Quick Breads (e.g. banana, zucchini, pumpkin)

This idea likely started when people started baking quick breads in canning jars to create a nice round loaf. However, placing a lid and ring on the jar to create a vacuum seal as it cools does not kill botulism-forming organisms that grow in warm, moist, anaerobic conditions. These items should be either baked fresh and served or frozen.  Read more here.

Dried Beans (pinto, kidney, etc.)

To safely can dried beans, they must be hydrated first (usually 12 to 18 hours) and then brought to a boil for 30 min. Hot beans are then placed into hot jars for processing. It is not safe to put dry beans covered with water into a steam pressure canner for processing.

Fresh Homemade Salsa

There are many delicious salsa recipes to enjoy with your fresh garden produce, but these are not formulated for canning. Remember that canning recipes are scientifically studied to account for enough acid and/or processing time to keep the food safe. Fresh salsas are not formulated for canning. According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation’s Salsa bulletin, “Improperly canned salsas or other tomato-pepper combinations have been implicated in more than one outbreak of botulism poisoning.” Keep you and those consuming your salsas safe. Keep fresh salsas fresh, or freeze. Don’t experiment with canning your favorite fresh salsa. Find tips on canning salsas safely here.

Garlic, Vegetable or Herb-Flavored Oils

While these make beautiful gifts, infused oils have the potential to support the growth of C. botulinum bacteria, which grows into botulism food poisoning. These are best made fresh for use and not left at room temperature.

Pickled Eggs

There are NO home canning directions for pickled eggs. There are some recipes for storage in the refrigerator, but in order to avoid botulism, do not leave at room temperature, except for serving time, and do not attempt to bottle for food storage.

This article was written by Melanie Jewkes, Utah State University Extension associate professor, Salt Lake County

Source: https://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/publication/FN_Food_Preservation_2009-01.pdf

Garden Tomato Salsa

Salsa Graphic

Did you know Live Well Utah sends out a weekly newsletter? Each week we feature a list of quick tips, a recipe and an article — all sent directly to your inbox! Today we’re sharing a salsa recipe from a recent newsletter. If you like what you see, sign up to receive the newsletter here.


Summer is drawing to an end, but gardens are in full-swing production this time of year. If you find your countertops overflowing with red, ripe tomatoes, try this fresh salsa recipe to put them to good use. Don’t have your own garden tomatoes? Check out our Farmers Market Roundup to find local produce near you!


Garden Tomato Salsa


* 4-5 medium or large tomatoes

* 1/2 red onion

* 1 jalapeno

* 1 medium avocado

* 1 can corn

* 1 can black beans

* 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro

* juice of 2-3 limes

* salt to taste

 Finely dice tomatoes, onion, jalapeno and avocado, and add to a large bowl. Omit jalapeno ribs and seeds for milder salsa. Drain and rinse corn and beans, and add to bowl. Chop cilantro and add to bowl, along with lime juice and salt, to taste. Expert tip: use scissors to quickly snip up cilantro. Enjoy with chips, as a topping on chicken or fish, or on a southwestern-style salad.


Ask an Expert // Back to School Stain Removal Tips

Stain Removal Graphic

Keep your kids looking sharp for school with these tips on removing stains.


Ever looked at your kids’ new school clothes after school and wondered what happened? Kids can get all kinds of stains on their clothes while playing and learning at school. Here are some common stains, and how to treat them.


Airplane glue: Saturate area with pretreatment laundry stain remover (aerosol types work better on greasy stains). Wait 1 minute for product to penetrate the stain. For stubborn stains, rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder immediately.  If color stain remains, soak/wash in chlorine bleach if safe for fabric, or in oxygen bleach. For extra heavy stains, apply dry cleaning solvent to back of the stain over absorbent paper towels. Let dry, rinse. Proceed as above.

Blood: Soak in cold water if fresh. If dried, pretreat with prewash stain remover, liquid laundry detergent, liquid detergent booster or paste of granular laundry product and water. Launder using bleach safe for fabric. Old stains may respond to soaking in enzyme product.

Felt tip marker: Saturate area with pretreatment laundry stain remover (aerosol types work better on greasy stains) Wait one minute for product to penetrate the stain. For stubborn stains, rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder immediately.  If color stain remains, soak/wash in chlorine bleach if safe for fabric, or in oxygen bleach.  For extra heavy stains, apply dry cleaning solvent to the back of the stain over absorbent paper towels. Let dry, rinse. Proceed as above.

Grass stains: Sponge the stain with alcohol and let dry. Sponge with cool water. Work liquid detergent into the stained area. Rinse with water. Let dry. Soak in mixture of 1 quart warm water and 1 tablespoon enzyme product for 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly. Launder in hot water with chlorine bleach if fiber content and fabric permit.

Mud:  Soak for 15 minutes in mixture of 1 quart lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Rinse.  Sponge with alcohol, using light motions from center to edge of stain.  Soak for 30 minutes in 1 quart warm water with 1 tablespoon enzyme presoak products.  If color stain remains, launder in chlorine bleach if safe for fabric, or in oxygen bleach.

Washable ink: Treat stains as soon as possible after staining.  The older the stain, the more difficult to remove.  Use these steps before laundering a washable garment. Stains that are laundered and dried are almost impossible to remove.  Soak for 15 minutes in mixture of 1 quart lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon liquid hand dishwashing detergent and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Rinse. Sponge with rubbing alcohol, using light motions from center to edge of stain. Soak for 30 minutes in 1 quart warm water with 1 tablespoon enzyme presoak products. If color stain remains, launder in chlorine bleach if safe for the fabric or in oxygen bleach.

Crayon (a whole load of clothes):  Scrape excess crayon with blunt knife. Wash in hot, soft water with soap (such as Ivory) and 1/2 cup baking soda for 10 minutes. If stain remains, work soap paste into stain. Wash 5 minutes. Rinse. To remove remaining color, use bleach or color remover that is safe for fabric.

School glue:  Saturate area with pretreatment laundry stain remover (aerosol types work better on greasy stains) Wait 1 minute for product to penetrate the stain. For stubborn stains, rub with heavy-duty liquid detergent. Launder immediately. If color stain remains, soak/wash in chlorine bleach if safe for fabric, or in oxygen bleach. For extra heavy stains, apply dry cleaning solvent to the back of the stain over absorbent paper towels. Let dry, rinse. Proceed as above.


Stain Removal Reminders

Treat stains as soon as possible. The longer the stain remains in the clothing, the harder it is to remove. Stain removal should be done before laundering washable items or drying them. Stains that are laundered and dried are nearly impossible to remove.  

More tips available here.


This article was written by  Marilyn Albertson –USU Extension Associate Professor, Salt Lake County.

Ask an Expert // Four Tips for Dealing with Problem Soil

Problem Soil

The condition of the soil often dictates success or failure in the landscape. Before spending money on trees and plants, be sure your soil is suitable for planting. 


Consider these tips for dealing with four common soil problems.


1. Rocky soil: 

Rocky soil is usually fine for growing plants, but rocks make digging or cultivating difficult. It is better to get rid of surface rocks where turf and garden areas will be. Be innovative with the removed rock. Are there areas where rock mulch can be used to suppress weeds and conserve water? Will retaining walls be built? In the worst situations, it may be necessary to garden in raised beds or to bring in topsoil. If topsoil is used, add a minimum of 6 inches.

2. Soil is too hard to dig:

During the summer, it is common for soil to become too hard to dig or cultivate. This is difficult for new homeowners without an irrigation system who are trying to create a landscape. In many areas, secondary irrigation water is stubbed into the yard. Try installing a temporary hose bib into the stubbed secondary water. This allows a hose-end sprinkler or drip hose to be used to moisten the soil and make it more amenable to digging or cultivating. If this is not possible or if secondary water is not available, prudent use of culinary water may be needed to moisten the soil.

3. Clay soil: 

Those with clay soil often have difficulty getting water to penetrate the soil without it running off. If possible, amend with 2-3 inches of quality compost (not peat moss) 6 inches deep before planting. This will break it up and begin the process of creating quality topsoil. It may take 5-10 years of doing this before noticing improved soil quality. One irrigation management technique is to break irrigation events into segments spread out over a few hours to allow water to better penetrate the soil. When fertilizing turf, make half applications twice as often to avoid runoff of the nutrients. If other options haven’t worked, it may be best to use raised-bed gardening.

4. Compacted soil:

Excessive foot or vehicle traffic can compact soil. This destroys soil structure and does not allow water to penetrate. More frequent hollow tine aeration can help with minor to moderate compacted soil. In extreme situations, soil ripping is needed. If the soil is ripped or if the problem can be alleviated before planting, start by incorporating 2-3 inches of quality compost as deeply as possible. If the area continues to see heavy traffic, install pavers or flagstone to alleviate re-compacting the soil.


Soil testing is a helpful way to learn about specific soil characteristics and prevent potential problems. The Utah State University Analytical Laboratory offers soil analysis. A routine test gives phosphorus and potassium levels; pH; salinity and the soil texture (clay, sand, silt, loam, etc.). Visit http://www.usual.usu.edu/ for more information.

This article was written by Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, 801-851-8460, taun.beddes@usu.edu.

Ask an Expert // Healthy School Lunches on a Budget

Healthy School Lunches Graphic

The carefree days of summer are quickly coming to an end. Soon parents and kids will have to return to the routine of homework, alarm setting and packing lunches. Here are some tips for packing healthy school lunches on a budget.


Use My Plate.

Packing lunches according to My Plate recommendations will ensure your child is getting the nutrition he or she needs to thrive during the school day. Check out choosemyplate.gov for more information on what your child needs from each food group.

Involve the kids.

School lunches are only economical and nourishing if your children actually eat them. Have children help plan or even pack their own lunches. For younger children, set out a few options in bins for each food group and have them choose one thing from each bin to incorporate into their meal.

Plan ahead.

When planning your dinner menu for the week, consider dishes that make good leftovers to pack for your child’s lunch. Contact your child’s school to see if there is a microwave available for reheating food in the cafeteria.

Prep ahead.

While you are cooking dinner, cut up some extra carrot sticks or slice more strawberries. Or while you are putting away leftovers, pack them directly into containers that can be sent for lunch. Packing lunches the night before, rather than during the hectic morning, will increase the likelihood it will actually get done.

Pack your own snacks.

While items like prepackaged trail mix or individually wrapped snack cakes are very convenient, they also often come with a high price tag. Mixing your own trail mix or bagging your own pretzels will not only save you money, but allow you to choose items that are lower in sugar and sodium than many prepackaged items.

Try reusable containers.

Reusable containers are handy for keeping food from getting squished, but they can also save big bucks at the grocery store. When used daily, disposable sandwich bags get costly for both your wallet and the environment. Don’t forget to write your child’s name on the container so it can be returned if misplaced at school or on the bus.

Keep it fun.

It is easy to get into a rut with school lunches. Changing it up with something as simple as cutting sandwiches or cheese into fun shapes can really brighten your child’s day. Finding new, tasty recipes can also keep your children excited for the lunch bell and eager to refuel their bodies and brains. Check out extension.usu.edu/foodsense and eatwellutah.org for some great recipes ideas for this year’s lunch sack.

This article was written by Casey Coombs, RD, CD; Policy, Systems, and Environments Coordinator, Utah State University Food $ense, casey.coombs@usu.edu.


Are you Being Mindful? // 5 Tips for Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating Graphic

Today’s post is from our sister blog, Eat Well Utah, all about how to eat mindfully and make better, healthier food choices. Bonus: there’s a recipe at the end for baked chicken tenders that parents and kids alike will enjoy.

Are you trying to eat healthier?  One of the best ways to stay on track is by eating mindfully.  It is not uncommon to  get caught up in the everyday stresses of life and forget to stop and live in the moment.  Mindful eating is simply being aware of what you are putting in your mouth and paying attention to how it affects your body, feelings, and mind.

This is a helpful practice for anyone who is focused on healthy eating or weight loss.  It makes you stop and think about not only what is going in your mouth, but why you are putting it there.  Are you really hungry?  Are you eating out of boredom?  Is it stress eating?  Mindful eating pulls you off autopilot and helps you be more attentive and aware of your food and drink choices.

Everyday distractions can make it difficult to stick to a mindful eating plan so it is important to set yourself up for success.  Nutrition 411 offers great tips on developing and sticking to your plan.  Here are some of my favorites:


1. Use a smaller plate.

Have you ever heard the term you eat with your eyes?  If you are hungry, you want to fill your plate with enough food to satisfy your hunger.  This can lead to overeating as you are tempted to quickly gobble up everything on your plate, missing your internal cues signaling that you are satisfied.  To prevent overeating, try using a smaller plate.  This will give you the ability to still fill up your plate, but the portion of food on your plate will be contained.

2. You eat what you see.

If you are feeling a bit hungry and you see a jar of candy on the countertop, it is likely that you will grab a piece of candy as a quick fix.  If you see a bowl of fresh fruit sitting on the counter top, it is likely you will reach for a nice, juicy apple.  Keeping healthy foods where you can see them, and tucking not-so-healthy foods away, helps you make better choices more often.  It is much easier to eat mindfully when unhealthy foods are out of sight and out of mind.

3. Serve from the stove.

Rather than bringing all the food to the table, keep it over by the stove or on the counter top.  The simple fact that you will have to get up to serve yourself another helping is likely to stop you from overindulging.  Bring fruits and veggies to the table instead.  If you are still hungry, you are more likely to refill you plate with what is right in front of you.

4. Remove distractions.

People tend to eat more when they are not paying attention to each bite that goes into their mouths.  When televisions, cell phones, and computers are holding your attention, you are more likely to miss your hunger cues.  You will overeat instead of stopping when you are satisfied.

5. Eat throughout the day.

You might feel the urge to skimp on meals early in the day so you can indulge in a larger meal in the evening.  Eating smaller meals more frequently helps keep your energy level more consistent and will help you avoid overeating when you feel like you are starving.


For more great tips on mindful eating click here and here.

What step will you take this week toward mindful eating?  Maybe you’ll start by making homemade chicken tenders instead of opting for the fast food version.

I was a bit skeptical when I first read through this recipe.  I thought for sure my kids would give it two thumbs down.  I was pleasantly surprised when they asked for seconds.  I hope your family is just as pleased.  Enjoy!

Click on the recipe card for a printable version.


Chicken Tenders



This article was written by Candi Merritt, Certified Nutrition Education with Utah State University Extension. View original article on Eat Well Utah.


Saving for the Future: Your Child’s Education

Saving for the Future Graphic

As you prepare to send your kids back to school, consider these two options for saving for their future education. 

Does having children worry you about their financial future? You’re not alone. A recent survey by Citi of 1,500 parents found that 56 percent of parents surveyed “are not confident that life for their children’s generation will necessarily be better than it has been for their generation.”

Are you wondering what you can do to help your children now? We’ve put together two Popular Options for Saving for Your Child’s Education.

The first thing families should do is decide where educational savings fits into their overall financial goals. Buying a home, preparing for retirement and providing an education for the children tend to be the three most costly family objectives. Few families have the means to tackle all three at the same time. It’s been said that you can’t get a scholarship for retirement. There are more options to cover the costs of higher education (scholarships among them) beyond having the savings entirely on hand. Given that, I suggest a retirement strategy be in place before establishing a means for college savings.

Here are two currently popular options: a 529 plan and the use of a Roth IRA.

529 Plans

A 529 plan is named after section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code, the provisions of which allowed for their creation in 1996, and each state has at least one. In our state, it is the Utah Educational Savings Plan (UESP) and it is consistently rated among the very best in the nation.

  • A 529 savings account is initially set up for a named beneficiary, however, the recipient can be changed to another family member, with a wide range of people who can be named, including a first cousin. The donor to the account is in full control of the assets.
  • Beneficiaries can attend qualified schools throughout the nation, not just in the state where the plan is held. This includes most community colleges, universities and even some vocational schools.
  • The fees and other maintenance costs associated with 529 plans are generally lower than with other investments. This is especially true for direct purchase plans like UESP. These are self-directed plans.
  • Among the UESP options are an FDIC insured account and a range of investment accounts that adjust with the beneficiary’s age. They automatically shift from aggressive investments to more conservative choices as the child draws nearer to college age.
  • Contributions to a UESP plan (and other state 529 plans) are not tax deductible, but all earnings from investments in the plan are free from federal taxes. The USEP plan is also free from state taxes. This means that when distributions are made to pay for qualified expenses, there are no taxes due. Current Utah law also allows state residents to claim a tax credit based upon USEP donations.
  • If distributions are not used for educational expenses, the earnings on your contributions are taxable and are also subject to a 10 percent penalty.

Roth IRA

A Roth IRA is another savings option that many families are considering for college expense planning. A Roth IRA was developed as a retirement savings program. Contributions to a Roth are not deductible, but earnings grow tax free.

  • While contributions to a Roth IRA can be withdrawn anytime, withdrawals of earnings prior to age 59 1⁄2 are subject to taxes and penalties. That is, unless the funds are used for higher education purposes. This provision means that it is possible for families to use a Roth IRA for both retirement and college preparation.
  • There are two other benefits of a Roth IRA. First, lower income tax filers may get a federal tax credit for contributions to a Roth IRA. Second, unlike an education savings account, retirement accounts like a Roth IRA are generally not considered when applying for financial aid. On the other hand, there are limits to annual Roth IRA contributions. If you use half of your retirement savings to send your kids to school, you may need to bank on them getting a good enough education and career to support you during retirement.


In summary, here are some issues families should consider:

  • Tax considerations are an important aspect, but not the only factor to consider.
  • Risk levels, potential rates of return and the range of investment opportunities will be part of any strategy.
  • The investor must determine how much or how little professional help they desire.
  • Family income levels and the number of children involved are critical components. Well-to-do grandparents with lots of descendants have different challenges and opportunities than newlyweds expecting their first child.

Which will it be? A Roth IRA, a 529 savings plan or some other option? Think about it now because the toddler munching Cheerios on your kitchen floor today will be off to college before you know it.

This article was written by Amanda Christensen, Extension Assistant Professor for Utah State University. Follow her on Twitter: @FamFinPro, Facebook: Fam Fin Pro, Instagram: @FamFinPro.

Republished from 2014.

4 Simple End of Summer Ways to Connect with Your Kids

Connect with Kids

Summer is winding down, but it isn’t over yet. These last few weeks of summer are the perfect time to have fun and connect with the kids in your life.


The Four E’s of Summer

Summer is almost over, which means kids still need activities to keep them busy, and school isn’t too far in the future. Consider the following steps to help you to create healthy, productive and, above all, fun activities for your children.

1. Encourage Proper Nutrition

The risk of childhood obesity and other health factors can be combated with proper eating habits. Give your children plenty of encouragement to stay healthy this summer. One activity that is great for encouraging proper nutrition (and it also helps build strong relationships by working side-by-side on a task) is gardening. Take your children to a local garden nursery and choose fruits and vegetables to plant in your garden. As you describe how the plant will look and how the fruit of the plant will taste, allow your child to pick the fruit or vegetable. When children are involved in the planting, growing and harvesting process their knowledge of healthy eating habits are greatly increased. Another great activity is preparing healthy foods and meals. Include your children in menu planning, grocery shopping, as well as food preparation for making delicious meals. Check out eatwellutah.org and extension.usu.edu/foodsense for more healthy eating ideas.

2. Enhance Creativity

Creativity is a very important process that helps a child gain powerful problem solving skills as well as exploring different ideas. Creativity can also lead to discovering hidden talents. A perfect activity to enhance your child’s creativity are crafts or DIY activities such as home and yard décor. Create different types of décor alongside your child, such as painting stepping stones or miniature figurines that can be placed in the home, flower beds, or gardens.

Remember an important part of creativity is allowing children to explore and play in a safe environment without restraints or distractions, with minimal guidance (i.e., let them get dirty and make a mess!). Use positivity as you accept and praise their creative projects, and limiting rejecting unusual ideas. Allow sufficient time for your child to explore all possibilities, moving from popular to more original ideas.

3. Encourage Mathematics and Literacy

Math and literacy don’t need to wait for school. Did you know students can lose up to a 1/3 of the knowledge they gained during the school year? Help you student retain all that hard-earned knowledge. Encourage your child to participate in as much mathematics or literacy activities as they can without overwhelming them. These activities can be anything that involve numbers, reading or writing, such as scavenger hunts, read-a-thons, cooking with recipes, library trips, or reading with your child for at least 20 minutes a day. Most local libraries provide lists of great read-aloud books for any ages, which can be a great source of entertainment for you and your children. By engaging your child in these activities, you are helping them to retain the knowledge they gained during the previous school year.

4. Extra Time with Your Child

To some adults, packing a picnic or going to the park may not seem like the most exciting way to spend their afternoon, but to a child it can bring so much joy and excitement to their day as well as make them feel special. Spending extra time with their child can make all the difference in the social, mental and emotional health of your child.

If you’re unsure about what activity your child would like to participate in with you, simply ask them. Commit to your child and set aside time to participate in that activity. By spending a few extra minutes or hours, you’re guaranteeing a stronger and prolonged relationship with your child.

This article was written by Whitney Trapp, former Family and Consumer Sciences summer intern and Mealanie D. Jewkes, Extension Associate Professor, Utah State University Salt Lake County Extension. Republished from 2015.



1. http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2014/05/30/12-free-or-low-cost-summer-activities-for-your-kids
2. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/nutrition/facts.htm
3. http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Creativity_Young/
4. http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/92/7/64.extract

Ask an Expert // Four Tips for Getting Rid of Eerie Earwigs

Eerie EarwigsEarwigs can be creepy, and while they don’t actually crawl in your ear, they can cause some serious damage to the plants in your garden. Learn how to keep them at bay with these four expert tips.

European earwigs are common in Utah and are easily recognized by the large pincers on the end of their bodies. The ideas that earwigs crawl into ears and that their pincers are dangerous are both false.

Earwigs are active at night and often go unnoticed; however, holes chewed in leaves can indicate earwigs have been dining there. If you suspect that earwigs may be eating your plants, examine them at night with a flashlight. Earwigs can be beneficial, acting as decomposers and predators of insect pests such as aphids and scales. However, they also feed on many vegetables, leafy greens, flowers and a wide variety of fruit. Since they spend the winter as adults, they can also become an indoor nuisance pest. Consider these tips for ridding your home and yard of earwigs.


1.)  Homemade traps are inexpensive and can reduce earwig numbers in specific areas. One type is made from corrugated cardboard. Cut a 6-inch-wide strip of cardboard and roll until it reaches about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Tie the roll with string to keep it intact, then tie it to the lower trunk of a tree. Collect the cardboard traps every two or three days, seal the earwigs inside a bag and throw the earwigs and the trap away. Rubbing the cardboard with fish oil or bacon grease can make the trap more effective.


2.)  Another type of trap is a sour cream, cottage cheese or margarine container with strong-smelling oil, such as fish oil or bacon grease, poured into the bottom. Bury the container in the ground almost to soil level, and cut a small hole in the lid for the earwigs to enter. The containers can be collected every few days and reused after the earwigs are dumped into a bag and sealed.


3.)  Commercial, non-chemical control products are widely available, such as diatomaceous earth. This product is not harmful to pets or humans, but works by cutting or absorbing the thin, waxy layer that covers insects. Sprinkle it around the base of plants that earwigs and other insect pests, such as aphids, scales and caterpillars, are damaging. Be aware that once diatomaceous earth contacts water, it becomes ineffective. It must be reapplied after rain or watering. To keep earwigs out of fruit trees, try wrapping sticky traps, such as Tangle Guard, around the tree trunk.


4.)  Occasionally, it may become necessary to spray an insecticide to effectively control earwigs. Organic and reduced-risk products are available such as pyrethrins and spinosad. Pyrethrins are derived from a species of chrysanthemum and control many insects. Spinosad is derived from a bacterium harmful to many insects but not mammals. Both are often labeled for use on many vegetables and fruits. Other chemical sprays are effective, but may harm natural enemies of earwigs and other beneficial insects. Of these available to homeowners, carbaryl (Sevin), malathion and permethrin are commonly used. Using non-chemical methods before resorting to sprays is recommend in most non-commercial situations.


A video about making homemade traps is available at https://youtu.be/tlgpfCT0wYo.

This article was written by Taun Beddes, Utah State University Extension horticulturist, taun.beddes@usu.edu. Ryan Davis, USU Plant Pest Diagnostic Lab insect diagnostician, contributed to this column.