How to Control Garden Earwigs Organically

Garden earwigs can cause damage to plants, but there are natural and organic solutions to keep them under control. Techniques such as using beneficial insects, physical barriers, and traps can effectively keep earwigs at bay without resorting to harmful pesticides.

Understanding Garden Earwigs

What are Garden Earwigs?

Garden earwigs, also known as European earwigs, are slender reddish-brown insects that measure up to an inch long. They get their name from the belief that they crawl into people’s ears and lay eggs, although this is a myth. They have wings but prefer to crawl instead of fly. These insects can be found in large numbers in gardens and outdoor spaces, especially in damp areas with plenty of hiding places.

Earwigs feed on both plant and animal matter, including other insects like aphids and mites. This makes them beneficial to gardeners as they help control pests. However, they can also damage plants by eating flowers or foliage or leaving small holes behind.

Earwig Anatomy and Behavior

Earwigs have a distinct appearance with two pincers at the end of their abdomen. These pincers resemble forceps and are used for self-defense or securing prey or mates during mating season.

They also have segmented bodies with six legs and short antennae. Their outer shell protects them from predators, similar to a hard exoskeleton.

Earwigs prefer damp environments such as under rocks, mulch piles, or woodpiles. During the day, they remain hidden in these dark and moister places after feeding on plants overnight.

As mentioned earlier, earwigs are omnivores that typically eat both plants and animals depending on what is available nearby. They will go after soft-bodied insects such as aphids before consuming decaying leaves if there isn’t another source of food around them.

One interesting thing about earwig behavior is their attraction towards light sources during nighttime hours (phototaxis). As explained by experts; earwig’s reproductive organs get stimulated by light when they’re looking for a new home territory for themselves to mate in later on which we think make them more conspicuous mainly nocturnal activity of leaving their hiding places.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Earwigs in Your Garden

As mentioned earlier, earwigs can be both beneficial and harmful to your garden. Here are some benefits and drawbacks you may encounter:


  • Control pests: Earwigs feed on other insects, including soft-bodied pests like aphids or mites which can ultimately damage your plants.
  • Efficient Decomposer: They could naturally help decompose dead and decaying plant materials on the ground making them an efficient member of any garden ecosystem.


  • Plant Damage: During warm months, large colonies of earwigs can cause minor but unsightly harm like eat out leaves as they chew into the foliage from leaf margins or even flowers if they don’t find a source for insect’s meal nearby in turn affecting the appearance of gardens.
  • Overpopulation: In cases of overpopulation (it depends on garden size) earwig feeding habits can severely impact plants growth by weakening the stems, although severe damage would only be seen in extreme cases where population management is key.

Now that we have covered what earwigs are, their anatomy & behavior as well as their drawbacks & benefits; let’s move onto how one could control Garden Earwigs Organically.

What is Earwig?

Earwig is an open-source, cloud-based system for managing safeguarding and HR processes in schools. [Wikipedia]

Identifying Earwig Infestations

Earwigs are common garden pests that feed on both plant and animal material. These small insects can cause widespread damage to plants, especially crops such as lettuce, strawberries, and begonias. It is essential to identify an earwig infestation early before the damage becomes severe.

Signs of Earwig Infestations

Identifying earwig infestations is relatively easy if you know what signs to look out for. Here are some signs that indicate the presence of earwigs in your garden:

  • Chewed leaves: Usually seen on the edges or fringes of a plant’s foliage, chewed leaves are among the most common signs of an earwig infestation. Look out for irregular holes or notches on your plants.
  • Silvery trails: Earwigs tend to secrete a slimy residue as they move around, leaving behind silvery trails along their path. You can usually find these trails around the base of plants or other surfaces near them.
  • Empty containers: If you have any empty pots or containers lying around your garden, check them for earwigs. These insects love dark and damp places and might be hiding inside one of these containers.
  • Presence of adults: Earwigs are nocturnal insects that hide during the daytime. If you spot any adult earwigs lurking around your plants in the evening, it’s a clear sign that there is an infestation.

Common Locations for Earwigs to Hide

Earwigs love dark and damp places where they can hide during the day and come out at night to feed. Some common hiding spots include:

Hiding Spots in the Garden
  • Underneath rocks or stones
  • In cracks or crevices in brick walls or wooden fence posts
  • Inside loose tree bark
  • Underneath piles of garden debris such as leaves, twigs, or grass clippings
Hiding Spots Around Your Property
  • Underneath patio furniture or potted plants
  • In garden hoses or watering cans left outside
  • In damp areas of your lawn or garden, such as boggy soil or compost heaps.

How to Spot Earwig Damage to Your Plants

Earwigs can cause significant damage to plants if left unchecked. Here are some tell-tale signs of earwig damage:

  • Holes in leaves: Earwigs chew on the edges of plant leaves, creating irregular notches in them.
  • Uneven growth patterns: If you notice stunted plant growth, it could be a sign that earwigs have been nibbling on the roots of your plants.
  • Flowers missing or damaged: Earwigs love feeding on flower buds and petals, which can result in a complete loss of blooms.

If you see any of these signs in your garden, it’s essential to take action immediately before the infestation gets worse. In the next section, we’ll discuss several organic methods you can use to control earwig populations effectively.

The Risks of Chemical Earwig Control

Earwigs are common garden pests, and finding effective ways to control them can be a challenge. While some gardeners turn to chemical pesticides for help, it’s important to understand the potential risks before taking this route.

The Dangers of Chemical Pesticides

While chemical pesticides may seem like a quick and easy solution for controlling earwigs, these products come with a number of potential dangers. Here are just a few of the risks associated with chemical earwig control:

  • Harm to beneficial insects: Many chemical pesticides don’t discriminate between harmful pests and beneficial insects like bees and butterflies. Using these products can harm these pollinators and other helpful critters in your garden.
  • Toxicity to humans: Chemical pesticides can also be dangerous for humans, especially if they are not applied properly or if you come into contact with them directly. Ingesting or inhaling pesticide residues can lead to serious health problems.
  • Contamination of soil and water: Pesticides don’t just impact the pests they target; they can also have negative effects on the environment as a whole. When chemicals leach into the soil or water supply, they can cause long-lasting damage.
  • Risk to pets: Just as pesticides are dangerous for people, they can also pose a risk to your furry friends. If your pet ingests or comes into contact with pesticide sprays or baits, they could suffer serious health consequences.

Given these risks, many gardeners prefer to seek out alternative methods for controlling earwigs that don’t involve toxic chemicals.

Chemical-Free Alternatives for Earwig Control

Thankfully, there are plenty of natural and organic methods you can use instead of turning to harsh chemical pesticides. Here are some ideas:

  • Diatomaceous earth: This is a powdery substance made from ground-up diatoms (tiny marine organisms). Sprinkling food-grade diatomaceous earth around your garden can create a barrier that earwigs won’t cross. When the insects come into contact with the powder, it dehydrates them, leading to their ultimate demise.
  • Traps: There are a number of different types of traps you can use to catch earwigs without resorting to chemical pesticides. One popular option is putting out rolled newspaper or cardboard tubes filled with dry straw or grass clippings. Earwigs will crawl inside looking for shelter and food, at which point you can dispose of the entire package.
  • Companion planting: Certain plants have natural properties that help deter pests like earwigs. Consider planting marigolds, calendula, or yarrow near your vulnerable crops, as these species can help keep unwanted visitors at bay.
  • Handpicking: While it may not be the most pleasant job, picking off earwigs by hand can be an effective way to control their population growth. Simply go out into your garden after dark with a flashlight and pick off any insects you see.
  • Reduce hiding places: Earwigs are attracted to dark, moist hiding places during the day when they’re not active. You can take steps to reduce these hideouts by raking up debris in your garden beds, trimming back overgrown plants, and creating clear areas around each of your crops.

By avoiding chemical pesticides for earwig control and trying out these alternative methods instead, you’ll be able to cultivate a healthy, thriving garden while also keeping your family and pets safe from harm.

Natural Remedies for Earwig Treatment

Earwigs, often found in gardens, can be beneficial to some extent thanks to their tendency to feed on other insects (like aphids). However, that doesn’t mean you want them infesting your plants or potentially making their way indoors. Thankfully, there are several natural remedies for earwig treatment that can help keep the population under control.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural solution that can be effective against multiple insect pests. It’s made up of tiny fossilized algae called diatoms and resembles a fine powder when crushed. What makes it so useful against earwigs (and other insects) is that it punctures their exoskeletons and dehydrates them.

  • How to use it:

To use diatomaceous earth against earwigs, sprinkle a light coating around the base of infested plants or directly on problem areas where they’re congregating. You’ll need to reapply after rain or heavy dew.

  • Important Note:

Be sure to choose food-grade diatomaceous earth as the type used in pool filtration is treated with chemicals and can be harmful if ingested by pets or children.

Neem Oil

Another option for dealing with garden pests like earwigs is neem oil. Made from the seeds of the neem tree, this essential oil disrupts an insect’s hormone system which ultimately leads to its demise.

  • How to use it:

Mix one tablespoon of neem oil with one quart of water and apply directly onto plants using a spray bottle. For best results, apply early in the morning or late afternoon when temperatures are cooler and bees are less active.

  • Important Note:

Like with any insecticide or pest control product, always read the label carefully before using neem oil and follow all safety precautions. Additionally, avoid applying it during hot the day as high temperatures may cause leaves to burn.

Beneficial Insects

Last, but not least, is the use of beneficial insects. These are organisms which prey on other insects that can be harmful to your garden. Using them as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy can help keep earwigs and other pests from overtaking plants.

  • Examples of beneficial insects:

There are several kinds of beneficial insects that you can attract to your garden:

  • Ground beetles: feed on slugs, cutworms, and other pests

  • Ladybugs: feast on aphids (and their larvae), mites, thrips, and more

  • Lacewings: feed on aphids, caterpillars, mealybugs, whiteflies and other soft-bodied insects

  • Praying mantis: eat a variety of insects including other beneficial ones too!

  • How to attract them:

To attract beneficial insects to your garden, plant flowers like marigolds and cosmos or herbs like dill and fennel. Installing birdhouses or bee boxes will also encourage insect predators like birds (who eat pests like earwigs) or bees (which pollinate plants).

By diversifying the plant population in your garden with flowers and herbs known for attracting beneficial creatures instead of relying solely on pesticides, you’ll build a healthier ecosystem in which natural balances can thrive – keeping plant-damaging creatures like earwigs at bay.

Remember that these natural alternatives may require some patience as they work at a slower pace than pesticides. However, with consistent application (or habitat creation), they can make big differences in controlling garden pests like earwigs without harming the environment around them.

Creating an Earwig Trap

Earwigs are known to be garden pests as they feed on leaves, flowers, and vegetables. They mostly come out at night, leaving the plants with holes and ragged edges. Although they play a role in controlling other garden pests, too many of them can result in significant damage to your garden. Chemical insecticides can be used to control them, but it’s safer and environmentally friendly to use organic methods like creating earwig traps.

DIY Earwig Traps

Here are two simple ways you can make earwig traps:

Rolled Up Newspaper

One of the easiest ways to create an earwig trap is by using newspapers. Follow these steps:

  1. Dampen several sheets of newspaper.
  2. Roll up the paper tightly.
  3. Place the rolled-up paper in the garden where earwigs abound.
  4. Check the trap in the morning (earwigs are nocturnal) and shake it into a bucket of soapy water.

The dampness of the papers attract the earwigs, which crawl inside looking for a hiding place during daytime hours. The next morning they bunch up inside the tight rolls and you can dispose of them easily.

Bottle Trap

Another method is by using a simple bottle trap that is also known as “pitfall” traps. Follow these steps:

  1. Cut off the top third part of a plastic bottle.
  2. Turn over top portion upside down so that its neck faces downwards towards bottle base.
  3. Use tape or glue gun to hold them together.
  4. Pour oil into base – about 1 cm deep should suffice (cooking oil will do).
  5. Place wherever there seems to be an abundance of earwigs around your flowering plants.

Earwigs attracted by this setup will climb in through inverted neck enthusiastically, but won’t get beyond that point due to slipperiness of contained oil/liquid. Insect float on the surface, so checking and changing three or four times a week should be sufficient to keep their numbers in check.

Maintaining Your Earwig Trap

Once you have created your earwig traps, it’s important to maintain them regularly for them to work effectively. Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Check your trap every morning (or frequently).
  2. Wear gloves and shake off any trapped earwigs into a bucket of soapy water.
  3. Replace the newspaper traps once they start looking dirty or are filled with insects.
  4. Monitor for attraction effectiveness; if it’s not so good anymore there might be something better than plastic bottle trick instead.

With these easy-to-make traps, you can get rid of garden earwigs without harming other beneficial organisms in your garden. Although controlling their population is essential, remember that some earwigs feed on leaf-eating pests like aphids too, which makes them valuable for natural pest control.

It’s always recommended using organic methods like creating practical traps before turning to chemical pesticides when dealing with garden pests and have fun crafting new ways to limit these home invaders!

Homemade Earwig Repellents

Earwigs can be a nuisance in the garden, and controlling them organically can be a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, there are several homemade remedies that one can use to repel earwigs without resorting to synthetic pesticides. Some of these home remedies are quite effective and often work better than their chemical counterparts.

Essential Oil Sprays

Essential oils are very effective at repelling earwigs. You can make your own essential oil spray using ingredients like peppermint oil, lavender oil, or rosemary oil.

To make an essential oil spray:

  • Fill a spray bottle with water
  • Add 10-15 drops of essential oil per ounce of water
  • Shake the mixture well before spraying it on areas where earwigs have been spotted

You can also add other oils like lemon, citronella, or eucalyptus to make your spray more effective. Spray this mixture around plants in the garden and near entry points like doors or windowsills where earwigs enter the house.

The scent of essential oils is unpleasant to earwigs, but it does not harm them. This type of spray is safe for use around pets and children as it contains only natural ingredients.

Garlic Spray

Garlic is another ingredient that repels earwigs effectively. Garlic spray is simple to make and highly effective when used properly.

To make garlic spray:

  • Add 3-4 cloves’ worth of finely chopped garlic into 2 cups of hot water.
  • Allow this mixture to steep overnight before straining out solid matter.
  • Add four more cups cold water to the strained liquid to dilute it.
  • Pour this solution into an empty soda bottle after straining out solids.
  • Apply this solution liberally around mulch piles over moist soil near plant beds at dusk each night until you notice no more sign of any earwig activity.

Earwigs dislike the strong odor of garlic and will avoid it. Be sure to spray this mixture around the area where earwigs are found, as well as on surfaces like windowsills and doors where they might enter the house.

Be careful when using garlic spray, however, since it can have an unpleasant odor that may linger for days. It is also a good idea to wear gloves or protective clothing when handling garlic because it can be irritating to the skin.

Eggshell Traps

Eggshells are another simple but effective remedy for controlling garden earwigs.

To make an eggshell trap:

  • Crush several eggshells into small pieces.
  • Place these crushed eggshells in a shallow container like a tuna can or any other similar dish.
  • Place these containers throughout your garden where you have noticed signs of earwig activity
  • Check on them periodically and remove them as they fill up with earwigs

Earwigs are attracted to eggshells because they look like their natural habitat – small crevices where they can hide. They crawl inside the shells and often cannot escape once they find themselves trapped inside.

This method is entirely harmless to both plants and pets making it ideal even if you want to use harm-free methods of pest control for your entire backyard garden!

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is another natural solution that works well against all kinds of insects, including earwigs.

To use diatomaceous earth:

  • Dust a thin layer of DE around areas where you have seen earwig activity.
  • Reapply after rainfall or watering since diatomaceous earth loses its potency when wet or moistened
  • Do not apply more than recommended since diatomaceous earth could also damage beneficial insects too!

Diatomaceous earth dries out the exoskeletons of pests like earwigs by puncturing tiny holes in their skin allowing moisture to escape their bodies. When earwigs walk over the DE, they get covered in it and eventually die.

Diatomaceous earth is an extremely safe product that poses no risk to human health or the environment. It is also harmless to animals, but you should avoid inhaling diatomaceous dust as it could irritate your lungs and throat.

Beer Traps

Beer traps are often used to trap snails and slugs, but they work well for earwigs too!

To make a beer trap:

  • Take a container like a margarine tub
  • Fill this with stale beer (.i.e., not too fizzy) until 1 inch full.
  • Place these throughout areas where you have noticed signs of activity.
  • Check on them periodically and replace or refill them when the contents get depleted.

The aroma of beer lure earwigs into these traps where they can drown themselves in the liquid. This solution is harmless yet very effective way of trapping insects above ground level without leaving any harmful residue behind.

Planting Strategies to Deter Earwigs

Earwigs are common garden pests that can wreak havoc on your plants. These nocturnal insects feed on flowers, fruits, vegetables, and even small insects. If you’re looking for a natural way to control earwigs in your garden, there are several strategies you can use.

Natural Deterrents

One of the easiest ways to deter earwigs is by using natural deterrents such as plants that repel them or companion planting.

Plants that Repel Earwigs

There are several plants that have been proven effective in repelling earwigs. These include:

  • Calendula: The strong scent of calendula (also known as pot marigold) repels not only earwigs but also other pests like aphids and whiteflies.
  • Catnip: Catnip is an excellent deterrent for all types of bugs, including earwigs.
  • Chrysanthemums: Chrysanthemums contain pyrethrins which are toxic to many insects, including earwigs.
  • Garlic: The pungent smell of garlic is said to keep earwigs at bay.
  • Lavender: Lavender’s fragrant aroma keeps many bugs away, especially those with soft bodies like slugs and snails.
  • Nasturtiums: Nasturtiums have a strong scent that masks the smell of attractants to bugs like aphids and whiteflies.

Plant these herbs within your vegetable garden or near planted areas throughout the perimeter; though different methods might work better in particular contexts than others.

Companion Planting

Companion planting refers to the practice of growing certain plants together for mutual benefit – e.g., growth stimulation/repopulation/protection from other threats. When it comes down to deterring specific insect pests, companion planting can also be effective. A few examples of beneficial plant companions for the purpose of repelling earwigs include:

  • Celery: Among many other repellent properties, celery is an insect that deters earwigs.
  • Mint: The strong scent of mint confuses and repels earwigs. However, be sure to grow this in a pot as it’s very invasive if planted directly on the ground.
  • Sunflowers: Sunflowers work different jobs altogether in aiding your garden: they attract pollinators and ladybugs while keeping pesky species like aphids and several Beetle species away.

Creating a Barrier Garden

Another way to control earwigs naturally is by creating a barrier between them and your plants. There are various ways to do this:

  • Use gravel or sand around plants as they’ll stick to it instead of invading roots;
  • Try spreading diatomaceous earth powder throughout areas where you plant (a natural substance that slices through insects’ protective coatings);
  • Apply petroleum jelly around the stems of plants.

Remember that attempting all these methods at once might not necessarily yield better outcomes; observe how each technique works first before combining for best results.

Maintaining a Pest-Free Garden with Earwig Prevention

Earwigs are more than just an unpleasant sight in your garden; they can also cause significant plant damage. These little insects will eat flowers, fruits, and even vegetables while chomping through leaves and new growth.

When it comes to pest problems, the best approach is always one of prevention. Following are some preventative maintenance tips for keeping earwigs at bay:

Preventative Maintenance Tips

  1. Clean Up Debris: Clear away debris that could provide shelter for earwigs. This is especially important during the fall when earwigs are looking for somewhere to overwinter.

  2. Use Treated Mulch: When you add mulch around plants (which helps them hold water), use treated mulch with citrus oil or boric acid added to deter earwigs from making their home there.

  3. Monitor Irrigation: Don’t over-water plants as this can create moist conditions that attract earwigs.

  4. Keep Weeds Under Control: Earwigs like to hide under weeds, so keep them under control by maintaining your garden regularly.

  5. Create Physical Barriers: You can also create physical barriers around individual plants or beds with adhesive barrier tape or other sticky products that trap the pests and prevent them from entering the area.

  6. Attract Birds and Beneficial Insects: Consider planting flowers that attract bees, butterflies, ladybugs and birds which help to reduce insect numbers in your garden naturally.

  7. Use Natural Repellents: There are several natural repellents available on the market today which effectively deter earwigs from setting up shop in your garden including diatomaceous earth, cedar oil sprays and neem oil solutions

Garden Maintenance Checklist

Once you’ve taken preventative measures against earwig infestations follow these steps as part of your regular garden maintenance routine:

  1. Check plants regularly: Look for damage on your plants, particularly holes in leaves. This could indicate that earwigs are present and you need to take action.

  2. Handpick Earwigs: When you see an earwig, use a pair of tweezers or gloves to pick it up and dispose of it far away from your garden bed. Alternatively, use a container filled with soapy water to drown them.

  3. Set Traps: Traps can be made by laying cardboard tubes or newspaper rolls horizontally on the garden surface where these insects usually crawl out during night time or early morning They will stay inside these traps during the daytime when they hideaway.

  4. Use Barrier Products: Apply sticky band barriers around plant stems to prevent earwigs from crawling towards them.

  5. Introduce Beneficial Insects: Consider introducing natural predators like ground beetles and spiders that feed on earwigs without harming your other plants.

  6. Spray Green Soap Solution: Mix about 3 tablespoons of green soap solution in 12 oz of water, spray directly over areas where earwigs are hiding or their trails show signs of activity.

  7. Install Bird Feeders Near Garden Beds – By placing bird feeders near your garden beds will surely attract birds as it’s an accessible source for food. Birds consume many insects such as caterpillars, aphids, and yes even Earwigs!

By following these practices regularly will ensure a pest-free garden while preserving a healthy environment for soil microbes and other beneficial organisms living within it.

  • Clean up debris
  • Use treated mulch
  • Monitor irrigation
  • Keep weeds under control
  • Create physical barriers
  • Attract birds and beneficial insects
  • Use natural repellents
  • Check plants regularly
  • Pick earwigs by hand
  • Set traps
  • Apply barrier products
  • Introduce beneficial insects
  • Spray Green Soap Solution
  • Install Bird Feeders Near Garden Beds

Frequently Asked Questions about Garden Earwigs

Earwigs are nocturnal insects that are commonly found in gardens, and although they can be beneficial to the environment by feeding on other pests, they can also cause damage to plants and sometimes make their way into homes. If you’ve ever had a problem with garden earwigs, you probably have some questions about them. Here are some frequently asked questions about garden earwigs:

Can Earwigs Harm People?

Although earwigs have been known to pinch people with their pincers (or forceps), they are not venomous and do not pose any significant danger to humans. The pinch from an earwig may hurt a little bit, but it won’t cause any serious harm.

In rare cases, someone who is allergic to the proteins in an earwig’s exoskeleton could potentially experience an allergic reaction upon contact with one of these insects. However, this is extremely unlikely and should not be a concern for most people.

Do Earwigs Only Come Out at Night?

Earwigs are primarily nocturnal insects, meaning they tend to be more active at night. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t see them during the day. If a colony of earwigs is disturbed or if their hiding places are disrupted, they may come out during the day to seek shelter elsewhere.

Additionally, if your garden has become heavily infested with earwigs or there is a lack of food sources available at night due to dry conditions or droughts in your area then again you might see them coming out during broad daylight.

How Do Earwigs Get Inside?

Earwigs typically live outdoors and prefer cool areas like beneath rocks/topsoil/in between existing vegetation/bark scents etc which provides adequate cover and protection against natural predators. They may venture indoors if exterior conditions aren’t favorable for living outside such as wetness or extreme hot weather conditions.

Earwigs might find its way into your home in several ways as mentioned below:

  • Cracks and gaps: Earwigs are small insects and can easily get through tiny gaps or cracks in windows, doors, foundations and walls.
  • House plants: If you have potted plants that you keep outside they may have earwig eggs that travel inside with the entered pots. In such a case, you should quarantine it for a few days to check for any signs of presence of earwigs before placing it indoors.
  • Laundry: Wet laundry sitting on the floor acts like a good hiding place for earwigs. The dampness keeps them active and alive.
  • Mulch / Compost sites near the house: Mulch and compost offer cover and protection to earwigs which could lead them up being close enough to finally make their way indoors.

It’s important to make sure that all potential entry points for earwigs are sealed, especially during the summer when these insects are most active. You can do this by caulking around windows/doors/sills/ etc, filling any cracks or crevices in the foundation/walls/issues area with sand /any other suitable material or storing firewood/mulch/compost piles away from household entry points.

Scroll to Top