Falling into the smallest insect order, the Dermaptera, this order has just around 2,000 species divided into 3 suborders and distributed amongst 15 families, some of which are now extinct.
Earwigs are found everywhere but Antarctica because they can’t handle the cold. They range in color from tawny to black and have long flat bodies.
They have wings, but they hardly ever fly, and large pincers in the back (the males have ones that are more curved than the female).
Earwigs go through an almost complete change during their one year of life. The female lays eggs and tends to them during the week it takes them to hatch. The nymphs look like tiny versions of the adults, except they don’t have wings or distinct pincers.
After 5 to 6 molts, the nymphs become adults and get their wings, pincers, and gender development. The mother leaves them after their second molt.
How to Get Rid of Earwigs Naturally
Most are beneficial as they feed on the bad guys, but an army of them can annihilate a garden. As much as they love insects, they also eat plants — from the roots to the tips of the leaves. Some will even eat fruit on trees, cutting big holes into the fruit.
The critters aren’t seen in swarms during the daytime as they prefer to take refuge in dark, moist places and emerge at nights to eat.
These are the tops solutions to get rid of them organically.
1. Soapy Water
This is an easy home remedy for them. Simply mix insecticidal or pure organic liquid soap with water and pour it into a spray bottle.
Spray it right onto the bugs, and it will kill them. Use it on plants only after testing on a leaf to see what happens.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
This naturally occurring powder has silica in it, and it’s great on soft-bodied pests.
3. Essential Oils
This is a repelling rather than a killing method, but everything that keeps earwigs away is useful.
Mix just a drop or two of essential oil like cinnamon or clove with water and spray everywhere earwigs are hiding. The stronger the scent, the more repellent it is, but don’t use a floral scent as they eat flowers.
Mixed with water (or used straight) and sprayed liberally around the garden and house, vinegar is a good repellent for the critters.
Combined with a little liquid soap, it will kill almost immediately when sprayed directly on them. Use it with a light hand, as it will likely burn or kill plants if the solution is too strong.
5. Manually Remove
Removing by hand is risky unless you wear gloves because the insects do pinch. It’s better to use a handheld vacuum or a portable shop vac with a nozzle attachment.
Remove all the bugs and eggs you see and burn the bag to properly get rid of them. If you have a bagless vacuum, dispose of them (eggs and all) in a container of soapy water to suffocate and kill them.
6. Natural Predators
Like all insects, earwigs have natural predators. Tachinid flies have proven to be the most effective predator, but there are others:
- Parasitic wasps
- Amphibians like frogs and toads
- Spiders of all kinds
7. Lighted Trap
Mix up a large bowl of liquid soap and water or plain vinegar and place outside at a location where they hang out at night.
Position a lamp over it and turn it on. They will fall prey to the light and drown in the solution after falling in.
8. Oil and Soy Sauce Trap
Mix half and half soy sauce and some vegetable oil in a small bucket or container whose lid has holes about ¼ inch in size in it.
It’s easier to use a plastic container where you can punch the holes yourself. Earwigs weirdly love the smell of the mix and will fall in and drown when they enter the holes.
Birds love insects of all kinds but tend to eat them mostly in the spring when they’re feeding their young. A few that especially love earwigs are:
- Purple Martins
It’s a good idea to check which are native to your area to ensure success in attracting them to your garden.
10. Newspaper Trap
This method is a good use of old newspapers. Simply roll several of them up, making sure they’re loose so the bugs can get into all the fold.
Dampen the papers but don’t drench and then, just place them around the garden and house. Once the bugs move in, immerse the rolls into a pan of soapy water.
11. Baking Soda Spray
Yet another great use of baking soda, this substance is toxic to most pests! Simply add a couple of tablespoons to a spray bottle filled with water.
Add a little bit of liquid soap, shake well and use it around the garden and house. Don’t spray directly on plants, as too much will likely burn the leaves.
This trap is pretty simple. Bury several half-empty cans of beer with their tops flush with the ground.
The fruity smell of the beer will lure the earwigs, and they’ll drown after pitching in. The beer trap also works great for slugs and snails.
13. Sticky Trap
Simply wrap duct tape, sticky side up, around a bit of cardboard and place the trap around the house and garden. Be sure to put it where pets won’t be able to get stuck on it too.
14. Pest Repelling Herbs
In lieu of essential oils, you can plant herbs to repel earwigs from your garden. These include tansy, fennel, and anise. Be warned, some herbs also attract them, such as mint (though the oil repels them).
Extracted from daisies, this natural insecticide breaks down in sunlight so the best time to spray it is at night.
Pyrethrin is one of the best (most potent) organic pesticides and is safe to spray on plants even on the day of harvesting.
An earwig is an unsightly insect that can do a great deal of damage and will infest not only your garden but your home as well.
Using one or more of the methods listed above will help in getting rid of them without harming yourself, your pets, or the environment around you.