Earwig in the garden

Earwigs can be a pest — and not just because of that scary old wives’ tale that they will crawl into your ear and lay eggs (they won’t!).

Earwigs are actually quite contradictory in that they can be both a garden pest and helper at the same time. They’re beneficial in compost piles and as predators because they eat nuisances like aphids, mites, and undesirable nematodes, as well as other insect larvae. Earwigs are actually omnivorous, and primarily feed on decaying organic matter as well as those pest insects.

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However, earwigs also unfortunately eat ornamental and vegetable plants, particularly dahlias, zinnias, butterfly bush, hollyhocks, lettuce, strawberries, potatoes, roses, and seedling beans and beets, as well as the silk of sweet corn. In gardens and greenhouses, they chew irregularly shaped holes in plant leaves and flower petals, tunnel into flower buds, and also consume seedlings.

Earwigs can also wreak havoc outside of the garden because they’re attracted to moist areas around and inside homes. They can become serious pests when they come indoors, and also when outdoor populations get out of control and do major damage on your garden.

Found throughout North America, these glossy, flattened insects are brown to black in color and measure ½ to 1 inch long. You can identify earwigs by their pair of curved pincers or forceps emerging from the tip of the abdomen. But don’t worry — they rarely pinch.

Adult earwigs may or may not have wings, but they rarely fly. Larvae resemble adults. The European earwig (Forficula auricularia) is most problematic in northern areas; the ringlegged earwig (Euborellia annulipes) is predominant in the South.

Get some tips below on where to find earwigs, and how best to control their population size.


Where Earwigs Hide

Ian_ReddingGetty Images

Earwigs are nocturnal; they hide in cool, moist places during the day and feed at night. Earwig damage mimics damage from caterpillars and slugs, so be sure you’ve identified the real culprits by checking for feeding earwigs on your plants after dark.

Earwigs are unusual among insects in that the female fusses over her eggs and nymphs, and uses her pincers to protect them. Overwintering adult earwigs lay clusters of round, white eggs in the soil in late winter; larvae, which resemble adult earwigs, hatch in spring. Adults overwinter under garden debris, stones, and boards as well as in soil.

How to Trap Earwigs

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To trap earwigs, you can fill cat food cans (or other similar cans) with ¼ inch of oil (preferably fish oil) and sink them into the ground near plants. Empty them every day.

You can also set out some crumpled, damp newspaper, lengths of old hose, cardboard filled with straw and taped shut at one end, or boxes with small holes cut in the sides and baited with oatmeal. Place these earwig “traps” near plants and dump the contents into a bucket of soapy water in the morning.

Another option is to simply place a light-colored cloth beneath an infested plant and shake or tap the branches. The earwigs should fall onto the cloth and can then be disposed of.

How to Control Earwig Overpopulation

Posonskyi Andrey/

If you are seeing a lot of earwigs, or have had a problem with them in your garden before, you can simply sprinkle a 2-inch-wide circle of diatomaceous earth around beds or the base of plants where earwigs commonly travel; reapply after it rains.

You can also apply the beneficial nematode Steinernema carpocapsae, which is an alternative to chemical pesticides.

Clean up any garden debris and mulches, especially around the foundations of your home, since moist areas serve as daytime hiding spots for the nocturnal earwigs and can lead to them invading your home. You can spread dry gravel as mulch around your home instead.

Earwigs are also attracted to lights, so eliminate or reduce lighting around the foundation.

How to Call in an Earwig Predator

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The earwig’s only insect predator in North America is the tachinid fly. You can attract and encourage this fly in your garden by planting alyssum, calendula, dill, and fennel.

Get Rid Of Earwigs


Earwigs are easily recognizable by their pincers (forceps harmless to humans) at the ends of their abdomen. They are dark reddish-brown, with light brown legs, and are about 5/8 inch long.

Earwig Biology

In a season, females reproduce up to 20-60 eggs laid in burrows (called chambers), 2 to 3 inches beneath the soil. Most species have one generation a year, over-wintering in the soil. Both adults and the young require moisture to live.


  • Earwigs are primarily nocturnal, feeding at night. They are scavengers, eating primarily dead insects and decomposing plant materials.
  • Some earwig species are attracted to lights.
  • During the day, earwigs will seek shelter under organic matter such as mulch, pine straw, leaf litter, and other debris. Earwigs prefer dark and damp areas like under sidewalks, and stones.
  • Earwigs eat live plants and can do damage to field crops.
  • Earwigs are found in homes and can get in through entry points like doors and windows, and by going up the foundation.
  • Their populations build up around foundations. Earwigs produce large populations rather quickly and are often a major problem in new subdivisions.
  • Earwigs live in habitats that also harbor centipedes, sow bugs (roly-poly), and millipedes.


  • Because earwigs are attracted to moisture it is important to eliminate high moisture areas. Earwigs may be present, althugh invisible during the day around foundations, in mulch, under stones, boards, etc.
  • Look for ways to eliminate damp moist conditions particulary around crawl spaces, faucets, and along the foundations.
  • Rain gutters and spouts should direct water away from the house foundation.
  • Caulk or use weather stripping at all possible entry points such as doors, windows, pipes and other entry points at the ground level
  • Change landscaping by creating a clean, dry border immediately around the foundation wall. Gravel or ornamental stones can make an attractive barrier against earwigs and other pest invaders.

Earwig Control and Recommendations

Removing earwig habitats is very important to the control of all insects, including earwigs.

As they are attracted to lights, it might help to reduce some of the lighting outside at night.

Most insecticide treatment should be done outside with application around the building foundation, flower beds, mulch areas and turf within a couple of yards of the building, as well as in the crawl space areas of the home. Treat in a three to six foot band around the building adjacent to the foundation (perimeter treatment) to stop or limit earwigs from getting indoors. Spring and Summer are the best times to apply insecticides.

Recommended products and treatment are:

  • LambdaStar UltraCap 9.7 (Top Recommendation)
  • Cyper WSP
  • Bifen It
  • All these products are odorless and will provide excellent results.

    Bifen IT may be used outside only(limited inside usage) and is a recommended insecticide for mosquito and tick control.

    Cyper WSP has been a very popular product but has a slight visible film that can be seen against darker surfaces.

    LambdaStar ULtraCap 9.7 is odorless, long lasting and may be used in or outside with no visible residue.

    If earwigs are coming indoors, use a supplemental treatment such as a crack and crevice aerosol, spraying along the baseboards, beneath cabinets, and other hiding places on the ground level.

    A recommended aerosol would be : Crack and Crevice Invader. It comes with crack and crevice tools to spay with a fine stream.

How to Manage Pests

Pests in Gardens and Landscapes


Published 10/12

In this Guideline:

  • Identification
  • Life cycle
  • Damage
  • Management
  • About Pest Notes
  • Publication
  • Glossary

Related videos

  • How to Trap Earwigs

European earwig.

How to Trap Earwigs (2:25)

Crop damaged by European earwig.

Adult earwig.

Earwig feeding damage on apricot.

A low-sided can sunk into the ground and filled with vegetable oil and a drop of fish oil makes a good earwig trap.

Earwigs are among the most readily recognized insect pests in home gardens. Although earwigs can devastate seedling vegetables or annual flowers and often seriously damage maturing soft fruit or corn silks, they also have a beneficial role in the landscape and have been shown to be important predators of aphids.

Although several species occur, the most common in California gardens is the European earwig, Forficula auricularia, which was accidentally introduced into North America from Europe in the early 1900s. The striped earwig, Labidura riparia, occurs in Southern California and can annoy residents when it is attracted to lights. It has a very disagreeable odor when crushed. However, the striped earwig doesn’t damage plants.


The adult earwig is readily identified by a pair of prominent appendages that resemble forceps at the tail end of its body. Used for defense, the forceps are somewhat curved in the male but straighter in the female. The adult body is about 3/4 inch long and reddish brown. Most species have wings under short, hard wing covers, but they seldom fly. Immature earwigs look like adults except they are smaller and lack wings.

Contrary to popular myth and despite their ferocious appearance, earwigs generally don’t attack humans, although they are capable of biting if trapped in clothing or sat upon.


Earwigs feed most actively at night and seek out dark, cool, moist places to hide during the day. Common hiding places are under loose clods of soil, boards, or dense growth of vines or weeds or even within fruit damaged by other pests such as snails, birds, or cutworms.

Female earwigs dig cells in the ground in the fall and winter where they lay masses of 30 or more eggs. Eggs hatch into small, light brown nymphs and remain in the cell protected and fed by their mother until their first molt. Second-instar nymphs may forage at night but still return to the nest during the day. Third- and fourth-instar nymphs are darker and forage on their own. Generally there is one generation a year, but females produce two broods.

Part of the earwig population hibernates during the winter as pairs buried in cells in the soil. In the hotter parts of California, earwigs may be relatively inactive during the summer. In milder California climates, some remain active all year.


European earwigs feed on a variety of dead and living organisms, including insects, mites, and growing shoots of plants. They are voracious feeders on soft-bodied insects such as aphids and insect eggs and can exert significant biological control under some circumstances. In yards that are planted to turf and contain mature ornamental plants, damage by earwigs is unlikely to be of concern.

European earwigs can cause substantial damage to seedling plants and soft fruit as well as to sweet corn. Damaged seedlings may be missing all or parts of their leaves and stem. Leaves on older plants, including fruit trees, have numerous irregular holes or are chewed around the edges. This damage may resemble that caused by caterpillars. Look for webbing, frass (excrement), or pupae that would indicate the presence of caterpillars.

Earwigs may attack soft fruit such as apricots, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries but don’t harm hard fruit such as apples. On stone fruit, look for shallow gouges or holes that extend deeply into the fruit. On strawberries, distinguish earwig damage from that of snails and slugs by checking for the slime trails snails and slugs leave behind. On corn, earwigs feed on silks and prevent pollination, causing poor kernel development. Earwigs may also seriously damage flowers including zinnias, marigolds, and dahlias. To confirm that earwigs are causing the damage, go out at night with a flashlight to observe the pests in action.

Earwigs may seek refuge indoors when conditions outside are too dry, hot, or cold. Large accumulations of earwigs can be annoying but present no health hazards. Sweep or vacuum them up and seal entry points. Earwigs eventually die indoors because there is little for them to eat.


Management of earwigs requires an integrated program that takes advantage of their habitat preferences. As moisture-loving insects, earwigs wouldn’t normally thrive in California’s arid climate without the moisture and shade provided by irrigated gardens. Where earwigs are a problem, consider reducing hiding places and surface moisture levels. Initiate a regular trapping program. If these measures are followed, insecticide treatments shouldn’t be necessary. Baits are available for earwigs but often aren’t very effective. Keep in mind that earwigs are omnivores and are beneficial in some situations, such as when they feed on aphids, and don’t need to be managed in many situations.


A key element of an earwig management program is trapping. Place numerous traps throughout the yard, hiding the traps near shrubbery and ground cover plantings or against fences. A low-sided can, such as a cat food or tuna fish can, with 1/2 inch of oil in the bottom makes an excellent trap. Fish oil such as tuna fish oil is very attractive to earwigs, or vegetable oil with a drop of bacon grease can be used. These traps are most effective if sunk into the ground so the top of the can is at soil level. Dump captured earwigs and refill cans with oil.

Other common types of traps are a rolled-up newspaper, corrugated cardboard, bamboo tubes, or a short piece of hose. Place these traps on the soil near plants just before dark and shake accumulated earwigs out into a pail of soapy water in the morning. Earwigs can also be dropped into a sturdy plastic bag and crushed. Continue these procedures every day until you are no longer catching earwigs.

Sanitation and Other Controls

Complement the trapping program by removing refuge sites for earwigs, such as ivy, weeds, piles of rubbish, and leaves. Never allow heavy ground cover such as ivy to grow near vegetable gardens. Watch out for mulches; they often harbor earwigs. Natural enemies including toads, birds, and other predators may play an important role in some gardens. Chickens and ducks will consume many earwigs.

For fruit trees keep weeds, brush, and suckers away from the base of the trunk throughout the year, as this overgrowth provides refuge for earwigs. Monitor populations with folded newspapers or burlap bags placed at the base of trees. On the lower trunks of older fruit trees, carefully scrape off all loose bark. Trunks can be treated with Tanglefoot, a sticky substance that prevents earwigs from climbing up the trunks to reach ripening stone fruit. Also, keeping fruit trees properly pruned, thinning heavy crops, and picking fruit as soon as it ripens will help keep earwigs from becoming pests. Remember that earwigs can be beneficial in trees when they are feeding on aphids, so keeping them out isn’t always recommended unless the tree produces soft fruit.

Chemical Control

Where insecticides are desired, those containing spinosad (e.g., SluggoPlus baits or spinosad sprays) are the most effective, environmentally sound products. However, baits often aren’t very effective where there are other attractive food sources. Sprinkle baits around susceptible plants before they become infested or around the foundation of the house where earwigs may be entering. Dampening the bait after application may soften it and make it more attractive. Once earwigs are in susceptible plants or in fruit trees with ripening fruit, baits are unlikely to control the problem. Other more toxic insecticides are available, including carbaryl, but aren’t usually needed if the cultural practices above are followed.

For best effect and to protect bees, apply at night and before the infestation is severe, following all label directions and making sure the product is labeled for use around any plants that may be treated. Combine the use of insecticides with the trapping and sanitation procedures described above.

Inside the Home

Indoors, earwigs can be swept or vacuumed up; be sure to kill and dispose of them promptly so they won’t reinvade. If earwigs are a regular problem in a building, inspect the area to see how they are getting into the house and seal up cracks and entry points. Remove materials outside the perimeter of the building that could provide harborage, such as ivy growing up walls, ground cover, bark mulches, debris (especially leaves in gutters), wood piles, leaf litter, piles of newspapers, or other organic matter.

Also, keep water and moisture away from the structure by repairing drain spouts, grading the area so water drains away from the structure, and ventilating crawl spaces to minimize moisture. Insecticide treatments indoors aren’t recommended, since they will do little to prevent invasions. If earwigs are attracted to outdoor lighting, use yellow or sodium vapor lightbulbs, which are less attractive to these insects.


Flint, M. L. 1998. Pests of the Garden and Small Farm. 2nd ed. Oakland: Univ. Calif. Agric. Nat. Res. Publ. 3332.

Moore, W. S., C. S. Koehler, and P. Svihra. Aug. 1994. HortScript #7. Earwigs and Their Control. Univ. Calif. Coop. Ext. Marin County.


Pest Notes: Earwigs

UC ANR Publication 74102

Author: M. L. Flint

Produced by UC Statewide IPM Program, University of California, Davis, CA 95616

Produced by University of California Statewide IPM Program

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Are earwigs dangerous or poisonous to humans?

Because of their intimidating pincers, or forceps, protruding from the abdomen, earwigs might appear to be a dangerous bug. This is a misconception. Earwigs can use their forceps to grasp onto a finger if agitated, but earwigs do not sting nor are they dangerous. They have no venom, so earwigs are not poisonous.

Insects such as mosquitoes or bed bugs can injure people by biting. Others can sting by inserting a stinger from the abdomen, through which they often can inject venom. Venom is used to defend from predators and to subdue prey. Earwigs cannot sting, since they lack a stinger and venom or poison sac.

The physical act of pinching using the forceps might cause some discomfort and might even break the skin in rare cases. If the skin is broken, it is best to treat it as any scratch which may be exposed to germs in the soil. Use an antibiotic cream or lotion to make sure that the scratch does not become infected.

Perhaps the greatest danger from earwigs is to garden plants, as earwigs, depending on the species, like to feed on seedlings.

There are no known injuries requiring emergency treatment due to earwigs. And the folklore that they can get into your ears and lay eggs or enter the brain is not true. However, if there are any medical concerns, speak to a physician.

What Does an Earwig Infestation Look Like? Why Do I Have Earwigs in My Apartment or Home? Do Earwigs Bite People? Do Earwigs Have Wings and Do They Fly? How Do I Control Earwigs and Will They Hurt House Plants? How Do I Exterminate or Get Rid of Earwigs? How Do I Keep Earwigs Out of My House? How Do You Prevent Earwigs? Types of Earwigs What Are Earwig Pincers?

What Is the Difference…

-Between Earwigs and Cockroaches?

-Between Earwigs and Silverfish?

-Between Earwigs and Spiders?

-Between Earwigs and Termites?

What Do Earwig Eggs Look Like? What Are Earwig Larvae? What Do Earwigs Eat? What Is the Life Cycle of the Earwig?

Are Earwigs Dangerous?

An earwig’s name is misleading. While folklore holds that this insect crawls into people’s ears while they sleep, the reality is that it wants nothing to do with you. The rare instances in which these insects have been found inside people’s ears have been accidental. But the question persists: Are earwigs dangerous?

A ferocious appearance

Earwigs have forcep-like pincers at one end of their abdomen, called cerci. These pincers, which are curved in adult males and straight for adult females, give earwigs a menacing look. These insects will use their cerci to attack and defend – but only if you’re another insect. In some instances, cerci are also used in the mating process.

A pinch of truth

It is not so much a question of can earwigs hurt you, as it is will they do so. Earwigs are capable of pinching a human, but typically won’t even go near one. When discovered in a home or garden, these insects are much more likely to run from an encounter than to stick around to pinch.

A bad smell

There are two other questions commonly asked about earwigs that should be addressed: Can earwigs kill you and are earwigs poisonous? The answer to both of them is no. When certain species of earwigs are threatened or discovered, they can emit a foul stench by releasing a stinky liquid from their abdomens. This is likely the source of the misconception about their toxicity. Nobody wants to be around a smelly bug, but earwigs – regardless of their stench – are not toxic to people or pets.

So, are earwigs dangerous to people? No, but they can be a nuisance in your home. If you are seeing large numbers of earwigs, it may be time to consult a pest management professional about your options for earwig control.

Don’t Wig Out Over Earwigs

By Laura Jesse
Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic
Iowa State University Extension

Earwigs are easy to recognize by the prominent pincers or forceps on the end of the abdomen. Adults are about 5/8 inch long and dark brown with a reddish head and pale yellow-brown legs.

If samples and questions to the ISU Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic are a measure of how well an insect is doing, I would guess that earwigs are doing very well. They seem to have gone from an insect seldom seen to one that many people encounter regularly in their yards and sometimes houses.

For some reason people are not too fond of earwigs, possibly because earwigs are the insect reputed in superstition to purposefully crawl into the ears of sleeping persons for the purpose of burrowing into the brain to lay eggs. Of course, there is no truth to these tales, though earwigs, like moths, beetles, cockroaches, ants and flies may wander into our ear canals by accident.

You should know though that earwigs are unique in that they provide some parental care of their young. Earwig nests are a short tunnel in the soil, usually next to a rock or other object. The female earwig lays her eggs and then spends all her time with them to prevent mold from killing them. She eats the mold off of her eggs to keep them clean. Somehow this makes me feel like all those months changing dirty diapers were not that bad.

Earwigs live outdoors and hide during the day in damp areas such as under mulch, dead leaves, logs, and piles of firewood, boards, stones and other debris or in rotted wood. I also see them a lot hiding in flowers and in plants that provide some protection, little the top of milkweed plants were the leaves are folded together. Earwigs are active at night and wander in search of food and moisture. Earwigs feed on a wide variety of materials including decaying organic matter, other insects, and plants such as vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants.

Like boxelder bugs, crickets and lady beetles, the earwig is a household pest as an accidental invader. They enter houses either by accident or when seeking shelter, especially in the fall or during periods of prolonged dry weather. Earwigs inside the house do not cause any harm or destruction. They are an annoyance or nuisance because of their presence. If disturbed, earwigs may produce a noticeable foul odor.

Earwigs found inside the house can be swept or picked up and discarded. Indoor treatment with household residual insecticides such as for cockroaches could be used in cracks and crevices that serve as points of entry, and along baseboards, window sills and door thresholds. Such treatments may provide limited benefit as more earwigs may wander in from outdoors. In addition eliminate damp, moist conditions near the house as much as possible. Repair dripping faucets and air-conditioning units and channel water from rain gutters and spouts away from the house foundation. Remove landscape mulch and debris (wood chips, gravel, old boards and bricks, etc.) from against the house and in areas of high numbers.

Outdoors earwigs can cause damage to plants and it is particularly annoying when they feed on the flowers. Management of earwigs is not easy and there is probably no way to completely eliminate them from your yard.

Consider trapping and physically destroying earwigs. Place burlap bags, boards, newspapers or other materials on the ground, then daily collect individuals that congregate under the cover and discard.

As a last resort insecticides can be sprayed on plants to reduce damage. Select a home garden labeled for this purpose and apply according to label directions. Avoid applying insecticides to flowers because you will harm beneficial pollinating insects. Applications in late afternoon are preferred since earwigs feed at night.

Just remember each earwig has a mom out there somewhere who ate mold off them when they were little eggs.

Laura Jesse, Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic, (515) 294-5374, [email protected]
Two high resolution photos are available for use with this column.
MaleEarwig.jpg is a closeup of an adult male earwig.
earwigondaylily.jpg is a closeup of a daylily flower that has been damaged by an earwig.

How to Kill Earwigs in Your Garden and Yard

Earwigs are creepy bugs that always surprise you by their sudden appearance. These insects love to hide under rocks, inside grills and in mulch. Once they’re exposed to light they scramble to another hidden location.

As fairly large insects, earwigs are also a bit scary looking since they have huge pinchers that look quite menacing. The truth is they aren’t interested in biting you (or pinching) and would rather just snack on the plants in your garden and flowerbeds.

There are a number of methods for controlling and eliminating earwigs. To do so, it’s important to understand what makes them tick.

What Are Earwigs?

There are about 2,000 species of earwigs, and these elongated insects are best recognized by their rear-facing pincers. Though they have wings, they rarely fly. Instead, these caramel-colored insects are speedy runners. They are mostly nocturnal and dash for cover when suddenly exposed. Earwigs are also highly social, so it’s not uncommon to see multiple – maybe even dozens – congregating in a single area as they look for food and hiding places.

Earwigs often seek out dark, cool places during the day, which can lead them into contact with humans. They will live under rocks and flowerpots and amid mulch. You can also find them in leaf litter and in thick vegetation, such as ivy. In fact, it’s wise to remove any thick vegetation from areas close to your vegetable garden, since they may hide there in the day and then venture out at night to feed on your plants.

Earwigs may also enter your home, often to escape extreme weather conditions or if they’re accidentally transported inside. The good news is that without a supply of food and moisture, they are unlikely to live long.

Earwig Damage to Vegetables, Fruits, Flowers and Berries

While earwigs won’t destroy your crops they can leave their mark. Here’s how they interact with typical garden plants:

  • Seedlings – Tender seedlings of any kind can be targets for these insects.
  • Lettuce – Earwigs chew irregular holes in lettuce leaves of all kinds. They may also use the layers and folds in the plant’s leaves as shelter.
  • Corn – Earwigs will eat the silk strands on corn. This activity prevents or limits pollination and can hinder kernel development.
  • Strawberries, raspberries and blackberries – Earwigs will often chew holes in leaves and on their edges. In extreme cases they will skeletonize leaves. Be aware that snail damage may look similar, but those creatures leave tell-tale slime trails.
  • Stone fruit – Peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots are targeted by earwigs. The insects leave deep holes or gouges in the fruit.
  • Flowers – The only “crop” that earwigs can severely affect are flowers, and they particularly enjoy butterfly bush, dahlias, hollyhocks, marigolds and zinnias. Confirm they’re the problem by checking the flowers at night, when earwigs will be found on the plants.

Why Are Earwigs in My Grill?

Among the most common places to sight earwigs are in and around a barbecue grill. These creatures appear to be attracted to grills for a number of reasons, including the darkness a grill offers during the daytime and the grease and oil that collect on it and in its drip pan.

Opening up a grill that’s been taken over by these bugs often sends them scattering, much to the chagrin of the cook!

Here are a few tips to keep them away:

  • Set it in a Sunny Location – Earwigs prefer cool, secluded places to hide in the daytime. Set your grill in a location that gets sunlight through most of the day. This will warm up the inside of the grill and make it uncomfortable for these bugs.
  • Regularly Clean Your Grill – After making a meal, thoroughly scrub down the grill to remove all food debris that may have stuck to the grate or fallen through it. Remove any cinders or ash piles that may provide shelter.
  • Empty the Grease Trap – Most grills have a small drip pan that catches grease so it doesn’t drip oil on the ground under the grill. This pan should be removed and cleaned after the grease cools down.
  • Pre-Heat the Grill – To drive earwigs and other bugs away from their hiding spaces, preheat the grill for a good 15 minutes before putting food in it. You may also want to scrape the grate, too. These measures should destroy and incinerate any traces of your insect invaders.

Earwig Control Options & Earwig Traps

Earwig control isn’t a simple task. For one thing, females lay their eggs underground, which makes it hard to target them at that stage. As noted above, earwigs are also fast-moving insects, so squishing them or even directly spraying them is difficult. Safer® Brand, however, has several products that can keep earwigs at bay.

  • Fruit & Vegetable Insect Killer – This spray can be used on your plants until the day of harvest. Apply whenever earwigs (or other insects) are present.
  • Diatomaceous Earth – Apply this mechanical killer in flowerbeds where earwigs are active. The fine dust shears through their exoskeletons, killing within 48 hours of contact.
  • Rose & Flower Insect Killer – Protect roses and other flowers from earwigs and other insects that target your flowers.
  • Insect Killing Soap – Use Potassium Salts of Fatty Acids to weaken insect exoskeletons, ultimately killing earwigs by dehydrating them.
  • 3-In-1 Garden Spray – A triple-acting spray that targets insects, fungal infections and plant diseases.

You can also set up a simple earwig trap. Here’s how to set up an oil trap to capture and kill earwigs:

  1. Get a small plastic bowl and poke pencil-sized holes in the lid.
  2. Fill the bowl about halfway with a soy sauce-vegetable oil mix.
  3. In the area of concern, dig a hole just deep enough to set the bowl inside.
  4. Cover the bowl up to the lip and leave the lid uncovered. Earwigs should be able to crawl directly onto the lid.
  5. The earwigs will seek out the soy sauce, fall in and drown in the oil.
  6. Replace the mix regularly.

Another trap uses the earwigs’ instinct to hide against them. Here’s how to set up a newspaper trap to catch earwigs:

  1. Wet a newspaper and roll it up into a tube.
  2. Set the newspaper roll near your plants before sunset.
  3. Collect the newspaper in the morning and dispose of it in a sealed plastic bag.
  4. If you want, you can carry the newspaper away from the area and open it to check the effectiveness. Be prepared to see lots of earwigs, though!

Safer® Brand Helps in the Home and Garden

Rely on Safer® Brand to help you keep pests away from your home, garden, flowerbeds and lawn with its wide array of OMRI Listed® pest control solutions. When a pest control product earns an OMRI Listed® designation, you know that it’s compliant for use in organic gardening.

To learn more about Safer® Brand and organic gardening, join the Safer® Brand Facebook Community.

Also be sure subscribe to the Safer® Brand E-Newsletter for you’ll get regular announcements from SaferBrand.com as well as links to great articles like this one.


Q. Mike: We have a HUGE, persistent problem with earwigs. They are in the garden, around the house, in the flowerbeds, under every rock and even the birdbath. And they eat everything! My wife has tried several natural deterrents with no luck and is thinking of using chemicals out of frustration. Do you have any suggestions?

    —John in Leelanau County, Michigan (just north of Traverse City)

Mike: Your website is awesome and full of great advice, but nothing about earwigs! Can you please recommend anything that may work? They are almost impossible to get rid of, and along with the squirrels, are making a mess of our garden. Thank you!

    —Nicky; in southern Ontario, Canada

Michael, you were blowing it out when you said a few weeks back that earwigs aren’t important garden pests. They are a big problem here, clipping the silks off my sweet corn and preventing my dahlias from blooming! They appear in damp towels left on the kitchen counter and I even found one in a connection box up on the roof!

    —Michael in grand Traverse county Michigan

Mike: What can I do to get rid of earwigs? At first I thought it was a grub problem, and used Escar-Go, but my marigolds and clematis are still being eaten to nubs, and earwigs are everywhere!

    —Jan; Chicago, Illinois

A. I’m glad that Jan in Chicago mentioned “Escar-Go”. That’s the brand name of an iron phosphate bait sold to control slugs (who can’t metabolize iron). It has no effect on grubs, the underground larvae of plant-eating beetles. (And grubs don’t eat above-ground plant parts, so we presume Jan meant to say slugs.)

But her typo did provide valuable information, as I strongly feel that late night raids of slimy slugs are often the actual cause of damage wrongly attributed to earwigs, and my first ‘earwig suggestion’ is always to get your slugs under control and see if there’s still a problem once the slimers have been dispatched. It looks that that’s not the case for Jan, however, as the Escar-Go bait would have ended her problems if slugs were to blame.

But in an odd twist of good news, an improved version of these iron phosphate products has JUST hit the market that DOES control earwigs (and cutworms, pill bugs and sow bugs in addition to the original slugs). Sold under brand names like “Escar-Go Supreme” and “Sluggo Plus”, a natural, bacteria-based spinosad has been added to the original iron phosphate formula. Spinosads have been around for a while now—they’re a great organic control for fire ants—and I like them a lot. Together with an attractive bait and that slug-stopping iron phosphate, they should be great at controlling lots of ground level pests. In fact, I consider these ‘next generation’ iron phosphate products to be the modern weapon of choice against earwigs.

Now, before we get to your other control options, a little mea culpa time: This is isn’t the first time I’ve been called on the earwig carpet. Back when I was Editor of ORGANIC GARDENING magazine, I wrote (echoing the advice of several entomologists) that earwigs were generally harmless creatures, and were considered to be so beneficial in orchards that captured garden earwigs were often released into fruit trees to control aphids, spider mites, various ‘fruit worms’ and other pests. Our readers responded with so many tales of woe that I finally had to recant. (By the way, “Michigan Mike” is also right on with his flower complaint; an entomologist who helped with our recantation back then specified their preference for devastating dahlias.)

Anyway, like slugs, earwigs are nocturnal moisture lovers, and controlling moisture in your garden is the first step in limiting the activity of both (and sow bugs and pill bugs and possibly some other pests I’m not thinking of right now.) So pull back any mulch near affected plants and only water your garden in the morning; to keep night time moistness at a minimum.

Then become a trapper. Like slugs, earwigs will crawl under any moist surface when the sun comes up, so leave thick sections of newspaper out in the garden overnight, and in the morning, shake the earwigs hiding underneath into a container with a couple inches of soapy water in the bottom. Specialized boards may be even better; Canadian entomologists found that traps made of boards with deep grooves cut into the undersides of the wood worked as well as toxic pesticides! Either way, keep the rest of the garden dry but wet down the ‘trap areas’ in the evening to maximize your catch.

Earwigs also love to hide inside small round things, so cut a leaky old hose into sections a foot or two long, and leave these out in the garden overnight. In the morning, dump the enclosed earwigs into that soapy water (or onto your fruit trees). You could also dust the area around affected plants with diatomaceous earth. Made from the fossilized remains of ancient sea-going diatoms, this fine powder dehydrates moisture-loving pests like slugs, earwigs and cock-a-roaches.

One of many OG readers responding to my ‘hey, they’re not so bad’ statement back in the 90s, said that making his garden toad friendly completely ended his earwig problems. He even had his toad scat analyzed as confirmation; filled with earwig exoskeletons, was the report. All you need to do to attract these amphibious earwig-eaters is to have birdbath saucers set into the ground in the center of the garden (filled with water of course) for them to frolic in, and damp shady spots for them to hide in during the day.

Another California reader reported great success using beer traps against earwigs. Fill some old margarine tubs with an inch or two of fresh beer at sundown, and place them around the affected plants. Because beer traps also work well at drowning slugs, you’ll get revenge and a positive pest ID in the morning. (Other sources insist vegetable oil traps are much better for earwig control.)

As with any other roving piece of protein, earwigs are food for other creatures, including an excellent beneficial insect called the tachnid fly. You can attract these helpful flies to your garden by growing Shasta daisies, clovers, yarrow, parsley, fennel and many other herbs—but you must let the herbs bloom, as the flies are attracted to the pollen in those flowers. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia adds that earwigs can also be controlled by spraying beneficial nematodes in your garden; seems that the microscopic nematodes attack the larval stage of the pest.

And finally, to keep them out of your house (in deference to keeping the insect fear factor at a minimum here, I will not repeat the many places our OG readers found these creatures indoors) keep the air as dry as possible with dehumidifiers and air conditioners; this will also keep mold and millipede problems at a minimum. You can also dust some diatomaceous earth around likely points of entry. And like our clever listener Michigan Mike, you can leave damp kitchen towels out overnight to capture them in.

Oh, and always sleep with earplugs.

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4 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Earwigs in the Garden

Is your garden overrun with earwigs? Try these four natural remedies to get rid of them quickly.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs

1. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth Powder
Get food-grade diatomaceous earth and sprinkle the white powder along the perimeter of the garden or around the base of the infested plants. Diatomaceous earth can kill earwigs by causing tiny cuts on their exoskeleton.

Diatomaceous earth will lose its effectiveness in wet conditions so don’t forget to re-apply after it rains. The food-grade version is also non-toxic to pets, and will work well against other common household pests including roaches and bed bugs.

2. Set a Damp Newspaper Trap
Leave some lightly-rolled damp newspaper around your garden for two or three days. Once the earwigs have moved in, discard the rolled newspaper into a bucket of soapy water to kill them. You can also use corrugated cardboard instead of newspaper.

3. Use a Tuna Can Trap
Embed an empty tuna can next to the earwig-infested plants then fill the tuna can with some vegetable oil. The earwigs will crawl in and drown.

4. Attract Natural Predators
If you want to think long-term then consider making your garden a more attractive home for natural predators like birds and lizards. For example, installing rock piles in your garden can be a good way to attract lizards as it provides cover for them.

Keeping backyard chickens is also a great way to control common household pests like earwigs, ticks, and fleas. You can catch the earwigs by using the damp newspaper trap then hand the newspaper over to the chickens for them to feast.

Sam Choan is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.

Earwigs cause their damage at night time

Earwigs are common unwanted visitors to most gardens in Melbourne. They can be quite prevalent in October, which is coincidentally, the time that many of us are looking to plant out our summer veggies. Earwigs can cause significant damage to young seedlings, but are quite fussy about selecting which ones to attack.

This spring, I am noticing them in large numbers in our garden. They are causing a lot of damage to the tender, young shoots of the deciduous fruit trees foliage as the trees wake up from their dormancy. They seem to have a particular liking for the new growth of my potted pear tree espaliers. Earwigs also seem to prefer:

  • Bean seedlings. Often they will eat the new leaves, as they emerge from the ground and only leave the cotyledons on the stalk
  • Silver beet (they often hide during the day down inside the crown of the plant)
  • Parsley
  • Cucumbers, pumpkins and other cucurbits
  • Kale
  • Celery (you’ll often find them hiding between the celery stalks during the day)

They’ll also have a go at tomatoes, brassicas and other leafy greens, but they don’t seem to cause as much damage to these varieties as the ones above.

Earwigs have been causing lots of damage to my potted pear espaliers

Earwigs are nocturnal and only come out to feed at night. As such, often they go unnoticed until they have caused a lot of damage. The damage caused by earwigs is different to that of slugs or other leaf chewing pests. Earwigs tend to eat lots of small holes in the leaves of plants. Usually these holes are in the middle of the leaf, rather than around the edge of the leaf. An absence of slime trails is another indicator that earwigs and not slugs are causing the damage. If you’re still not sure, then the best way to diagnose the problem is to try and catch them in the act.

Wait until an hour or two after dark and then grab a torch (a head torch is ideal) and head out into the garden. Check the plants with the most damage for signs of earwigs on them. The earwigs are not too difficult to spot if they are around.

Why not take the kids with you for a bit of fun? If you’re lucky, you might also come across many other nocturnal minibeasts. Last night on my late-night wander through the garden I had an” up close and personal encounter” with a Tawny Frogmouth!

Control Methods for Earwigs

Once you’ve made sure that earwigs are causing the problem, it’s time to do something about it. Earwigs are one of the few garden pests that I actively try to control. But I only do so when they are causing significant damage. Once plants get large and established, a few earwig bites aren’t going to be a major issue for them. However, for small seedlings such as beans – it can cause entire crops to fail before they even had a chance to get growing. Here is a few” earwig control” methods that might work for you.

Soapy Water

Earwig control tools – A head torch and a tub of soapy water!

This is my favourite control method for earwigs. Although it requires you to be quite proactive! You’ll need to don your head torch and go on nightly patrols of the garden. Mix up a strong soapy water solution by adding approximately one part dishwashing liquid to ten parts water. Then you can add this to either a spray bottle or a small bucket or margarine container.

Once you spot an earwig you can either squirt it with the spray bottle (the fun way) or knock the earwig into the container of soapy water (the sensible way). Earwigs breathe through pores in their skin. The soapy water reduces the surface tension and prevents them from breathing. The effect is quite rapid and the earwigs are despatched quickly.

Keep in mind that all insects breathe this way. So if you use a spray bottle to squirt the earwigs, you may also be killing beneficial insects that get caught up in the spray. That’s why I tend to use a container to knock them into, there’s less collateral damage.

Baited Jars

Another method of controlling earwigs is to use baited jars. I’ve heard of people using various soy sauce and oil concoctions. However, the method that I find works well is linseed oil. Simply put a centimetre of linseed oil into an old glass jar or coffee mug and bury it in the soil so that the lip of the vessel is level with the soil. The earwigs will be attracted to the smell of the linseed oil and fall into the jar and drown in the liquid.

This method seems to work really well some nights and catch tens of earwigs per container, then the next night catch nothing, even though there’s still plenty of earwigs around. I’m really not sure why!

Be sure to remove the jar from the garden before it rains, or the jar will fill up and the oil will be the first to spill into the garden. You could try burying the jar on an angle to stop the rain getting in.

Scrunched up Newspaper in pots

This is a very old control method for earwigs, although I don’t find it very effective. Simply scrunch up some newspaper and stuff it into an old plant pot. Leave the pots lying around the garden for a few days. The earwigs will take up residence in the pot and then all you have to do is discard the paper in the bin (or shake it out in the chook run for a protein rich treat).

I’ve heard of people stuffing the newspaper into terracotta pots and then burning the paper every few days. Although I’m not sure how effective this would be.

Sacrificial Crops

Earwigs seem to love nasturtium flowers, so consider using them as a sacrificial crop.

Why not try a few sacrificial crops? I’ve noticed that earwigs really love nasturtium flowers (they don’t seem to touch any other part of the plant). So plan ahead and have some nasturtiums covered in flowers for next spring. The earwigs will be attracted to the flowers and hopefully, not so much to your seedlings. At the very least, it makes it fairly easy to go hunting for them and reduce their numbers when the time comes. Nasturtiums are also a great sacrificial crop for white cabbage moth. Possums don’t seem to like them so you can use them to hide young seedlings among their growth until they get established. They’re also edible and make a great ground cover, so there are many reasons to plant some in your garden.

Do you have a tried and tested method for the control of earwigs in your garden? If so please let us know in the comments section below so that we can incorporate them into this post.

How To Get Rid Of Earwigs

Under cover of darkness, a frightening looking creature crawls into the ear of a sleeping person, gets as far as the brain, burrows there and lays eggs. Feeding on the brain, the little monster grows while its helpless victim eventually dies. Actually, this myth associated with earwigs has nothing to do with reality. Earwigs are one of those few insect species that have fallen victims to human prejudice, but still, as the saying goes, there is no smoke without a fire. Earwigs can accidentally wander into the human ear canals, but that’s it! No terrible consequences outlined above would follow in this case.

Nevertheless, earwigs are pests and they cause damage to human property which is of quite a different nature. This is what the article is about. You will learn how to get rid of earwigs according to scientists’ recommendations, in particular, how to kill earwigs, as well as repel and trap them. The article covers the most effective methods of earwig control both in the house and in the garden. In addition, there is a review of the highest rated products available on to help you make a right choice.

Table of Contents:

What Kind Of Damage Earwigs Can Cause

Well, the chance of being bitten by an earwig is the last thing you should be worried about. They can nip but do it only when attacked and such a backlash will not have health implications either for humans or pets. Earwigs stop being harmless as soon as their population gets large and they become a sheer nuisance in your house. They can consume cookies, bread, and flour stored in the pantry. Not that earwigs are able to empty your supplies of food, it would not be hygienic to consume the items after earwigs have tasted them. Add to that their fearsome appearance, disgusting smell and craving for food in storage spaces, and earwigs will turn into a huge headache for you throughout the summer.

And not just indoors. These greedy plant feeders cause considerable damage to crops and foliage in gardens and can completely destroy seedlings. Typically, they both consume leaves and injure fruits. As a rule, the most affected plants are those of fig, potato, cabbage, bean, as well as all kinds of flowers. Earwigs adore consuming berry bushes and orchard trees, favoring peaches and apples. They prefer ripe fruits over premature ones. In this way, they both reduce crop yields and cause aesthetic injury to plants and fruits. Do you have small and irregular holes in the foliage? If so, then earwigs are among the main suspects. These pests can also prey on other insects and sometimes are not above eating dead ones.

Now let’s have a look at who you are dealing with. The adult earwig is three-fourths of an inch in length, with the color varying from brown to black. Also, it has tiny wings which are used quite rarely though. But the main characteristic feature of this pest is pincers at the tip of its body — curved ones in males and straight in females. These pincers have a dual purpose: as a protection against predators and a convenient tool to catch the prey.

The type of damage earwigs inflict largely depends on the species they belong to. Out of over twenty species known in the USA, the European earwigs are the most widespread and troublesome pests. Being nocturnal insects, they need places to hide in the daytime. However, their shelter should meet certain requirements including shadiness, humidity, and coolness. In contrast, dry and hot conditions are deadly to earwigs, something you should put on notice.

To find sites of a potential infestation in the garden, inspect loose clods of soil, boards, and dense growth of weeds. Indoors, earwigs hide in crevices providing enough darkness and moisture, as well as in potted plants and stacks of newspapers. Outside the building, they choose such locations as garbage cans or a pantry. Not individual insects but whole clusters of earwigs can be found in window or door frames in case the area is infested.

They do not breed inside the house, nor do they establish themselves there. Just hide. But this is where the problems begin. You may encounter them running rapidly around baseboards, window sills or any other surfaces that would make your dwelling resemble a dilapidated shed rather than a snug home. When crushed or disturbed, these pests emit a repulsive odor and an equally repulsive yellow liquid.

How To Get Rid Of Earwigs In The Garden

So, what should be done? There is a number of steps recommended by scientists that will help you get rid of earwigs. However, as Jeffrey Hahn and Phil Pellitteri, entomologists from the University of Minnesota, put it, these measures will only decrease the number of the pests but will not ensure the problem solved if the infestation is heavy. And yet without taking these steps, no further earwig control efforts will be successful.

First of all, clean up debris serving as breeding and nesting places. These are fallen leaves, plant debris, ripe fruits, lumber, and bricks. Removing mulch or making it thinner will also be helpful. Prune the fruit trees and scrape off loose bark on their trunks. Arthur L. Antonelli, an extension entomologist from the Washington State University, advises wrapping a cardboard around the trunks to collect these pests as they move from ground to the branches. Once you have got enough of them inside the cardboard, remove it and crush the earwigs. Make every efforts to make your garden or yard a sunny and exposed area because this will be an unfavorable environment for earwigs. Secondly, if there is too much moisture in the garden, check drainage and irrigation systems to make sure that they function well. If they do not, you should repair or replace these systems. When irrigating the plants, do it frequently but more thoroughly. This will assist in reducing the humidity of the soil.

John L. Capinera, a scientist from the University of Florida, suggests exploiting natural enemies to control earwigs. Some of them have been imported from abroad specifically for that purpose. The best option is the European parasitoid Bigonicheta spinipennis, a fly which kills up to fifty percent of earwigs present in the treated area. However, take into consideration that using natural enemies does not guarantee the same result in different regions. It is not clear yet which factors influence on how many earwigs can be killed by these parasites, but still, this solution is worth trying.

Another natural enemy, nematode Mermis nigrescens, can cause high mortality among earwigs, according to studies conducted in Ontario. The experiments showed that over sixty percent of the target pests could become infected by nematodes over the course of two years. Keep in mind that nematodes are beneficial and assist in controlling a wide range of pests damaging the garden. Therefore, their presence in the garden will only make its crops and plants healthier. Apart from that, earwigs have natural enemies among birds and animals. Toads, birds, chickens and ducks are able to eat many of them and could be considered reliable partners in your pest control strategy.

How To Get Rid Of Earwigs In The House

To control earwigs indoors, start with eradicating them outside the house. It would be useless to hamper their migration inside the building when all the necessary conditions for their breeding are created outside of it. David J. Shetlar, an entomologist from the Ohio State University, claims that reducing mulch layers as well as stones and timbers will make the infestation lower. Eliminate moist conditions around air-conditioning units and in crawl spaces. Create a dry border along the foundation.

When the weather is dry and hot, earwigs especially struggle to penetrate inside the house seeking cooler and more humid environment. Once detected indoors, they can be vacuumed up, wiped with a rag, killed by hand or trapped. Treat crevices and cracks with insecticides to kill earwigs on contact, but keep in mind that the effect will not last for a long period of time since new pests will arrive from the outside the building.

With that in mind, first of all, focus on prevention measures such as sealing around doors and windows to block their main entry points. Use caulking compound and stripping around doors, pipes and other openings through which earwigs can get inside the house. Pay a special attention to those located at the ground level. Also, take advantage of ornamental stones which can serve as an effective barrier against all kinds of pests. Think about the ways to make your house less visible to earwigs, given that they are active at night. One of the best solutions is to reduce outdoor lighting around doors and windows as bright illumination attracts them. M. L. Flint, a scientist from the University of California, suggests using either yellow or sodium vapor bulbs which can hardly be seen by earwigs and many other pests due to peculiarities of their biology.

How To Kill Earwigs With Insecticides

An insecticide treatment should be considered a supplementary measure to non-chemical ones as it is a short-term solution. Steve Jacobs, Sr. Extension Associate from the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, recommends applying products containing such active ingredients as deltamethrin and cyfluthrin outside the building to create a barrier against earwigs. Spray the stuff early in summer and make several applications, do not confine the treatment to a single spraying. Read the label directions and warnings in order not to harm the household residents and animals. Focus on the areas where earwigs have been detected most often, primarily, treat building foundations, alleys and around trees.

Indoor insecticide treatment is believed to be less effective than the outdoor one because earwigs do not become established inside the building. Scientists from the Ohio State University note that both dusts and sprays may produce the desired result if applied at the ground level, in particular, beneath cabinets and around baseboards. To protect your garden from earwigs, treat mulches, flower beds, around trees and on their trunks. Scientists from the Washington State University consider products containing carbaryl to be the most effective at treating apricots, cherries, peaches and plums. However, be careful when using baits since those based on carbaryl include metaldehyde which is toxic to pets.

To make your pest control strategy successful, apply insecticides to those sites where earwigs like to hide in the daytime. You may also outwit the pests by creating your own handmade hiding place for earwigs to entice them inside. Place a cardboard or carpet on the tree trunks, wait until as many pests as possible are gathered there, then take it off and spray generously. Keep in mind that not all insecticides registered for earwigs can be applied around fruits and vegetables. Read carefully the manufacturer’s directions to clarify that point for each individual product.

Researchers from the California State University say that, among all insecticides, the products based on Spinosad should be preferred as they are not just effective but also environmentally friendly. Baits like SluggoPlus can be sprinkled around the plants and the house foundation. To enhance its performance, moisten the bait to make it more attractive. Nevertheless, two factors may significantly reduce the bait effectiveness. First, there should not be enough alternative sources of food. Secondly, the bait should be consumed by earwigs until they have got on the trees and plants.

Consider using insecticidal soaps which kill earwigs on contact, however, take into account that they do not have a residual effect. Also, you will have to use a lot of insecticidal soaps to cover the area an achieve a satisfactory result. Diane G. Alston, an entomologist with the Utah State University, provides a list of insecticides suggested for earwig control and available for house owners.

  • Botanical and mineral solutions which are approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (diatomaceous earth and pyrethrin)
  • Carbamate (carbaryl)
  • IGR or insect growth regulator, approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (azadirachtin)
  • Microbial, approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (Spinosad)
  • Organophosphates (malathion)
  • Synthetic pyrethroids (bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, cypermethrin, deltamethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, permethrin).

Earwig Control By Trapping

One of the methods of how to get rid of earwigs is trapping. W.S. Cranshaw, a scientist from the Colorado State University, outlines strict guidelines you should follow to obtain a result. Set traps in the evening and check them in the morning to remove captured pests. Although there is a number of trap designs, they should all resemble earwig harborage, in particular, to be dark inside. Note that placing one trap will not be enough, there should be a number of them throughout the garden, with a focus on sites located against fences or close to bushes and around trees.

Rolled cardboard or crumpled newspapers will certainly do the job and will assist in mass trapping. They will not eradicate the entire infestation, especially if the population is large in the area. However, if you persist in your efforts, a good deal of earwigs can be eliminated. Also, it is crucial to put some food bait to lure earwigs inside. According to scientific studies, wheat bran is the most attractive bait to these pests. Scientists from the Utah State University suggest punching holes at the top of a plastic yogurt container and burying its bottom in the ground near sites frequented by earwigs.

You may also use shallow cans with odorous oils as a trap and bait simultaneously. Oils of vegetable and fish are also effective. Such bite is recommended to be put in a small cup sunk into the ground. An advantage of this solution is that the target pests will not only be captured but will drown as well. In this case, you will not need to care about how to kill earwigs in the trap. All you have to do is to discard the dead. For that purpose, collect the traps into bags and throw them in the trash. In case your trap does not kill earwigs, shake them out into a container with soapy water, that’s all! Also, you can crush the captured pests inside the plastic bag if it is sturdy enough. For traps set indoors, use a broom or vacuum to effectively remove earwigs.

How To Get Rid Of Earwigs: Comparison Table

Method Type Advantage Disadvantage Effectiveness
clean up debris habitat modification eliminates breeding and nesting sites; earwigs will not have shelters to hide in the daytime will not eradicate the entire infestation; labor-consuming 9
natural enemies killing environmentally friendly solution; once beneficial insects released, human participation is not required; presence of nematodes will make plants healthier scientific studies show different effectiveness depending on the region; natural enemies cannot be controlled 8
physical elimination (vacuuming, killing by hand etc) killing helps decrease the number of earwigs in the house or garden; does not involve using insecticides labor-consuming; you will have to dispose of the dead; will not stop new earwigs from arriving in the house; a short-term solution 7
sealing entry points exclusion a long-term solution; will stop new earwigs from penetrating the house labor-consuming; not all openings and crevices can be detected in the building’s exterior 10
reducing outdoor lighting habitat modification using yellow bulbs will make your house less visible to earwigs does not eliminate existing infestation 9
traps killing regularly set traps significantly reduce the number of earwigs; no chemicals are required should be checked on a daily basis; only a number of traps will work; you will have to dispose of dead earwigs or kill them after capturing 9
insect growth regulators (azadirachtin) insecticide solves the problem in the long run as the treated earwigs will not be able to reproduce; is registered in the USA as “relatively non-toxic” to produce an effect, IGR should be used in a combination with other solutions as sterilizing the females does not eliminate existing earwigs and newcomers; has a slow effect 10
carbaryl insecticide considered by scientists to be the most effective at treating apricots, cherries, peaches and plums; works on direct contact; does not have an odor; stable to heat, light and acids under storage conditions can be very toxic to humans; baits must not be available to pets as they are extremely toxic to them; short-term solution 10
Spinosad insecticide organic; recommended by scientists as effective and environmentally friendly solution; does not affect beneficial insects; has stable residues should be used in a combination with other methods 10
Malathion insecticide kills earwigs by disrupting their nervous system; the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the territory of the USA should be considered as a supplementary to non-chemical measures; can pose a health risk to people in inhaled; highly toxic to beneficial insects and fish 8
Synthetic pyrethroids (bifenthrin, cyfluthrin etc) insecticide they are most effective when applied as a barrier along the perimeter of the building and in the garden; recommended to be applied directly to earwig hiding places should be considered as a supplementary to non-chemical measures; short-term solution 9
Diatomaceous earth insecticide kills earwigs by dehydration; is not toxic to humans; recommended by scientists; natural solution should to be reapplied several times; effective only in the dry state what makes the application troublesome as earwigs live in moist conditions 10

TOP 7 Products Killing Earwigs

In the product review below, we have picked up the most popular products intended for getting rid of earwigs both indoors and outdoors. By means of these solutions you will be able to launch a counterattack against earwigs on all fronts. Special yellow light bulbs will help trick out these pests so that they are not able to see your house. Sticky traps will hold tight the pests which have penetrated indoors while diatomaceous earth will kill those hiding in crevices and cracks. Eco-friendly pellets based on Spinosad will be a great solution for the garden treatment but in case you prefer sprays, a powerful concentrate can be an option for you. Pellets with the active ingredient metaldehyde will play a terrible trick with earwigs — attract them to kill. If you stake on natural solutions only, take advantage of nematodes which will infect earwigs when released in the area.

LED Yellow Bug Light Bulbs

This bulb neither kills nor repels earwigs, but it accomplishes a very important task — makes your house invisible to earwigs. As part of a complex pest control strategy, this function is a crucial one because you will be able to leave porch lights on in the evening and at night and will not risk attracting earwigs which are active at the nighttime.

TCP Yellow Bug Light Bulb will serve for a long time, about 25,000 hours, that characterizes the product as a reliable and cost-efficiency one. It is also a way to kill two birds with one stone: you get comfortable and bright enough illumination while pests are staying away. The thing is that typically earwigs perceive the wavelength range between 650 and 300 nm, which means their failure to see yellow color.

Apart from that, there is one more strong point. The bulb is equal to a 40W incandescent one but uses only 5W contributing in such a way to enhanced energy consumption in your house. The Bug Light Bulb has scored 4.2 out of 5 stars in reviews. “I have a home in North Carolina, and before this bulb it was impossible to sit on the porch at night with all the bugs around the light. I can honestly say this solved the problem,” a customer comments.

Price: Check the current price

30 Trapper Monitor For Earwigs

These traps designed specifically for earwigs and the like are available in a package including 10 sheets of 3 traps each. Depending on how many sites you want to cover, you may separate each of the traps or use a whole sheet, for example, in a place of heavy infestation. The critters are captured on a sticky surface with strong adhesives lasting up for a year. A very effective and reliable solution, however the product has an evident downside — it is intended for indoor use only. The manufacturer suggests placing the traps behind furniture, in attics, basements or behind toilets.

Trapper Monitor rates 3.8 out of 5 stars in reviews. Although, it is noteworthy to comment that the customers did not report having caught a lot of bugs. Typically, a limited number of them can be eliminated in such a way.

Price: Check the current price

Monterey LG6575 Sluggo Plus 1 Pound

These pellets based on Spinosad are recommended by scientists as effective and eco-friendly insecticide. It is compatible with organic crops, be it vegetables or fruits, and is relatively safe. It can also be applied to trees, shrubbery and flowers, in other words, almost everywhere! At the same time, this is a powerful solution since the stuff kills target pests at all stages from eggs to adults. Sluggo Plus is definitely popular with customers, with a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars in the reviews.

A customer beginning her comment by saying “All I can say is WOW”, notes that the pellets produce effect within 24 hours and the next night after application, almost all earwigs are gone. And that is not all. It is a long-lasting solution given that, several months later, only few of these pests have been seen in the treated area. Another customer is satisfied with the results after treating his garden plot with an area of about 225 square feet planted with kale, broccoli and cauliflower. “Most did well enough, but what kale the quail didn’t nibble, the slugs and earwigs chewed to useless lace. The 1-lb carton of Sluggo Plus was sufficient to treat the plot, and now we’re reaping meal after meal-worth of lovely greens,” he says.

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Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer Concentrate

The concentrate labeled for earwig control has the active ingredient gamma-cyhalothrin. Among its evident strong points is durable effect lasting up to three months and a large area coverage amounting to more than 5,000 square meters. The solution is for outdoor use and intended to be applied to plants, vegetables, flowers and trees in the garden. Using Triazicide, you will get a stuff killing the pests both above and below the ground.

To make applications, attach the bottle to a hose and spray the infested areas. Pay attention to earwig hiding places around the tree trunks and under plant debris. Despite being a chemical insecticide, the concentrate is safe for pets and children but only when dried. In sunny days, it usually takes no more than an hour. Triazicide concentrate has scored 4.0 out of 5 stars in reviews. Analyzing customers’ feedback, one may come to the conclusion that sprays are not as effective against earwigs as dusts and pellets are.

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Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth, 4 Pound Bag

A powder based on diatomaceous earth is cost-efficient solution as it can be applied both indoors, sprinkled into crevices and cracks, and outdoors to reduce a pest infestation. The stuff kills insects either by ingestion or dehydration within a couple of days. According to the manufacturer, the product is labelled for a number of notorious pests including earwigs.

There are three major advantages of using Safer Brand Diatomaceous Earth. First, it is natural and does not contain chemicals what makes the powder safe for humans. Second, in contrast to the situation with all other insecticides, pests are not able to develop immunity against DE. Therefore, you can use the product frequently, if need be, while its effectiveness will not decrease. And yet, there are some downsides. The major one is that diatomaceous earth will not work in case it is occasionally dampened. For this reason, take care to store the product in dry spaces. At the same time, this peculiarity of DE raises a question of where to sprinkle the powder outdoors, given the fact that earwigs thrive in moist areas only.

DE rates 4.1 out of 5 stars in customer reviews. Some of the users have shared their successful experience in earwig control with the help of diatomaceous earth. They highlight that the product is great for pet owners because, unlike chemicals, it is absolutely harmless for the animals. “Bought it to spread on the ground around bee hives to eliminate earwigs – works great and no danger to bees,” one of the satisfied customers says. “It is a bit messy when applying, but the results are worth it,” another one notes.

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Ortho Bug Geta Plus, 3 Pound

These pellets are a kind of death trap for earwigs: they first attract the pests and then kill them. With active ingredients including Bitrex, ingestion deterrent and metaldehyde, the product provides a long-lasting earwig control of up to a month. It can be applied around vegetables and fruits, however, check the label to learn which ones. Among its advantages is that the stuff is a rainproof and does not need to be reapplied after irritation of the garden.

It seems that Ortho pellets are really in demand, rating 4.4 out of 5 stars. According to customer reviews, the product does the job but some users point to the fact that it is quite toxic and homeowners should be careful with it. In general, the customers agree that the solution kills earwigs: “This is great against earwigs that were turning my plants into lace leaves,” one of the customers says. “It’s really helped clear out my earwig infestation. While I wanted to rely only on essential oils, the earwigs had gotten out of control”, another buyer shares his experience.

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10 Million Live Beneficial Nematodes

Using beneficial nematodes to kill earwigs is a good, organic solution but should be considered a supplementary measure though. The idea has come from the biology of nematodes known as Steinernema carpocapsae which kill pests by releasing bacteria. Scientists from the University of California Davis claim that earwigs are susceptible to infection of these nematodes. According to the study conducted by them, the larger the earwig is, the higher mortality rates were observed.

This particular product affects over two hundred pests encountered in the garden and is worth trying against earwigs. One of its strong points is that this solution is absolutely eco-friendly and safe both for humans and pets. Nor will these nematodes inflict any damage to plants and flowers. This pack will be enough to cover 200 square feet of the area. Although you will deal with living organisms, the nematodes can be applied easily, just sprinkle them around the affected turf or mix with water and spray the sites where earwigs have been noticed.

Steinernema carpocapsae nematodes rate 4.0 out of 5 stars. “They have been in the ground about a week, and I see much less earwig damage on my beans and other veggies,” one of the customers describes his experience in using nematodes.

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Top 7 Earwig Killing Product: Comparative Chart

Product Type Price
LED Yellow Bug Light Bulb illumination
Trapper Monitor, 30 items trap
Monterey LG6575 Sluggo Plus, 1 Pound pellets
Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer, 32 fl oz concentrate
Ortho Bug Geta Plus, 3 Pound pellets
Safer Brand, 4 Pound diatomaceous earth
Live Beneficial Nematodes, 10 Million earwig natural enemies

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