How to Get Rid of Earwigs in the Garden for Good (2 Methods)

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By Jeff Hale

Whether you’re new to gardening or an expert, finding your plants full of holes or half-eaten is a nightmare come true.

If you one day wake up to some damaged plants in your precious garden, it probably means you have some uninvited crawling guests roaming around. These unwanted guests are bound to infest your entire garden unless they’re eliminated.

So let’s get started.


How to Get Rid of Earwigs For Good

Among the most common garden pests are earwigs. They’re known for wreaking havoc upon vegetables, flowers, and even fruit trees. That being said, this in-depth guide will discuss how you can go about eliminating earwigs completely.

how to get rid of earwigs

1. Humane or Natural Removal and Prevention

Don’t like killing anything? No problem. Here are the most natural and humane ways of removal these little bugs.

Diatomaceous Earth

DM is a natural fine white powder made out of siliceous rock. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is not toxic to humans, but earwigs are sensitive to it.

If you have earwigs in your garden, sprinkle some of the powder around the damaged plants’ base. Keep in mind that the powder has to be applied to dry soil, so you must re-apply in case of rain or watering.

Encourage More Birds

Many bird species are natural predators, which makes them perfect for pest control. Encourage birds into your garden by providing a supply of clean water and food as well as places for them to hide and nest. Trees like oaks, pines, cedar, and birch provide cover during bad weather and shelter birds from predators.

Soy Sauce and Oil Trap

Pour equal parts of soy sauce and olive (or vegetable) oil into a container then punch small holes in the lid and secure it on top. Bury the container in the ground so the lid would level with the soil. This will help repel earwigs away from your garden.

Neem Oil

If you have an indoor garden that’s earwig-contaminated, neem oil is the most ideal solution.

It’s arguably the best option to get rid of earwigs indoors. It doesn’t have any chemicals in it so it’s safe for you and your pets. Plus, it’s cheap and odorless.

Attract the Tachinid Fly

The tachinid fly is the only earwig insect predator in North America. To attract them, provide a diversity of small-flower plants.

Use parsley, cilantro, fennel, Queen Ann’s Lace, aster, dill, and chamomile. Also, allow weeds like wild carrot and sweet clover to grow in the garden.

Lay Bamboo Beds

As a trap, lay a couple of bamboo beds, before dark, between your plants. Then, in the morning, empty these traps in soapy water. Be careful not to open them accidentally before getting rid of the earwigs inside.

2. Chemical Removal (Killing them)

If you want to get rid of them by any means necessary, then these are the most trusted ways.

earwig chemical removal

Alcohol and Water Spray

Make your very own earwig insecticide by mixing equal volumes of water and 70% alcohol. Then, spray the mixture over the dwelling places of earwigs.

Dish Soap and Water Spray

Add a couple of drops of dish soap into a water bottle and spray the leaves of your plant as well as the damp areas in which you saw earwigs.

M-Pede Insecticidal Soap

M-Pede soap is a staple in organic pest control. It should be sprayed directly onto the earwigs, preferably in the early morning or in the darkness, as earwigs are mostly nocturnal.

Sprinkle Boric Acid Powder

You can sprinkle some boric acid powder over out-of-reach areas to help you with earwig control. However, the powder is toxic so make sure to keep it away from children and pets.

How to Control Earwigs Near Plants?

Become the critter traffic controller, by using techniques that help keep earwigs away from your most precious plants.

control earwigs

Fill in Cracks and Holes

Earwigs can crawl into your house through the tiniest crevices, especially near the doorways. For earwig control, make sure to fill any cracks and holes in walls and basement using calk or sealant.

Use Sodium Lights

Although earwigs are attracted to lights, you can use sodium yellow lights to lure them away from your garden.

Remove Old Dead Leaves

Earwigs’ favorite food is decaying old plants and leaves, so make sure to get rid of any leaf litter.

Fix Leaking Faucets or Drains

Earwigs are usually found in dark and damp places. Your drains provide a reliable source of water and food not only for earwig infestation but for different pests and insects.

Also, the debris in your pipes provides excellent nesting material for eggs. Make sure to clean and fix any leaking faucets, drains, and pipes. You don’t want to be standing over the sink one day and be surprised by little earwigs creeping out of the drain!

Signs Of Earwig Damage

There are always some telltale signs that you’ve had a visit from one of these little guys. Here’s how to spot the damage.

signs of earwig damage

Leaves Will Appear Jagged and Full of Holes

Though many garden pests cause cavities in plants, earwig damage can be recognized by the irregular, ragged cavities along leaf edges and the petals of a plant. They prefer young leaves and fruits and can demolish them overnight.

After Rainy Weather

As we mentioned, earwigs tend to reside in dark, damp places, so rainy days are perfect for them to come out and devour your seedlings.

Under Pots or Damaged Plants

In potted plants, earwigs typically hide in the saucer beneath the pot (water drains into it through tiny holes). Make sure to check beneath the damaged potted plants.

Similar to Slugs and Snails

Just like snails and slugs, earwigs can severely damage your seedling vegetables. Also, all three usually lay their eggs in the soil.

Plants Earwigs Like

Just like us humans, there are some foods that they really enjoy. So when you pot these plants in your garden, just be aware that they are prone to attracting earwigs.

  • Marigolds – Marigolds add a beautiful touch to your garden, but unfortunately, earwigs love to eat all flowers, and Marigolds are among their favorites.
  • Dahlias – Dahlias are some of earwigs’ favorite food. They eat the petals or bite around the leaves.
  • Zinnias – Like Marigolds and Dahlias, Zinnias will not be spared from earwigs. If you noticed earwig damage in the flowers, you’d have to cut all the damaged ones to eliminate earwig infestation
  • Roses – To protect your roses, you can fashion an earwig trap by laying damp newspaper around them overnight. In the morning, drop the earwigs into a bucket of soapy water to kill them.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you can’t find an answer to your question below, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

What Are Earwigs?

Earwigs, also known as pincher bug, are incest pest that has a brown and reddish color. There are 22 types of Earwigs in the United States and there are over 1,000 different species all over the world; the most common species being the European earwigs.

Why Are Earwigs in My Garden?

Earwigs are attracted to dark, damp places, as they provide the perfect conditions for shelter. You can usually find them hiding under potted plants, rocks, wooden boards, and mulch.

Be sure to remove decaying leaves, excess moisture, and mulch from your garden to prevent earwig infestation.

What Scent Keeps Earwigs Away?

The strong scent of cinnamon, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender help with pest control. Use two drops of each oil into a gallon of water and spray onto the damaged areas. Also, try making a repellent spray by mixing equal parts of vinegar and water.

Should You Kill Earwigs?

Despite their eerie looks, earwigs are a beneficial pest when found in compost piles and they help gardeners eliminate other insects like silverfish.

However, if you find them in huge groups, it means you have an earwig infestation, which can devastate your plants overnight if you don’t act fast.

Where Do Earwigs Lay Eggs?

Female earwigs lay their eggs under garden debris, mulch, and stones, as well as in soil. Eggs hatch into tiny, white nymphs and remain in the hole protected and fed by their mother until their first molt. Keep an eye out for these eggs and throw them away before they hatch.

What Is the Best Pesticide to Kill Earwigs?

Many insecticides can help with pest control. We recommend using neem oil spray or diatomaceous earth as both are natural and therefore safe to be used on vegetables. However, neem oil will need to be reapplied at least once a week, while DM will last until it gets wet.

What Is the Lifespan of an Earwig?

The earwig’s lifespan is a year. It starts when female earwigs, who are famous for their maternal care, lay 25-50 eggs at a time. The female will stand guard to their eggs until they hatch after seven days, and even then, she will keep protecting the earwig nymphs until their second molt.

After the nymphs undergo a series of molts, they reach their last stage as adult earwigs and emerge into the world.

Do Earwigs Bite or Pinch?

Despite the famous myth of earwigs crawling into your ear (which is believed to be the reason behind the name), earwigs rarely bite humans.

However, an earwig is more likely to pinch your skin and hold on tight. But again, the pinch rarely breaks the skin or draws blood.

How Often Do Earwigs Lay Eggs?

The female earwig typically lays two rounds of eggs. Usually, earwigs breed once a year, in autumn or winter, and the eggs hatch and are ready by early spring and summer.


  • Earwigs could be beneficial, but you have to scrutinize your garden for infestation before regretting it.
  • When necessary, vary between your methods of killing earwigs.
  • Earwigs are very fond of flowers. If you’re growing flowers, especially the four covered in this article, keep an eye out for them.
  • Earwigs won’t crawl into your ears, we promise! Not unless you sleep in the garden.