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Natural Ways to Get Rid of Earwigs on Plants

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15 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Earwigs (Pincher Bugs)

They have wings, but they hardly ever fly, and large pincers in the back. Male earwigs have pincers that are more curved than females.

Most are beneficial as they feed on the bad guys, but a large infestation can annihilate a garden. As a result, it is necessary that you get rid of them if there is an army.

Earwigs (pincher bugs) fall into the smallest insect order, the Dermaptera. This order has just around 2000 species divided into 3 suborders and distributed amongst 11 families [1].

They 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.

Pincher bugs 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. However, after 5 to 6 molts, the nymphs become adults and get their wings, pincers, and gender development. The mother then leaves them after their second molt.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs Naturally

These critters eat plants — from the roots to the tips of the leaves. Some will even eat fruit on trees, cutting big holes into them.

They aren’t seen in swarms during the daytime as they prefer to take refuge in dark, moist places and emerge at night to eat.

Below are the top solutions to get rid of them organically.

1. Soapy Water   

This is an easy home remedy for earwigs. Mix a few drops of pure organic liquid soap with water and pour it into a spray bottle.

Spray it right onto the bugs, and it will kill them. However, use it on plants only after testing on a leaf to see what happens.

2. Diatomaceous Earth

This naturally occurring powder works great against soft-bodied pests.

Sprinkle around the roots of your plants or make a spray out of diatomaceous earth for the best results. Moreover, you can purchase DE online or at most local farm stores.

This is our recommended brand.

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 pincher bugs are hiding.

The stronger the scent, the more repellent it is, but don’t use a floral scent as they eat flowers.

4. Vinegar

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. However, use it with a light hand, as vinegar will likely burn or kill the plants if the solution is too strong.

5. Manually Remove

Removing by hand is risky unless you wear gloves because the insects pinch. Therefore, it is better to use a handheld vacuum or a portable shop vac with a nozzle attachment.

Remove all the pincher bugs and eggs you see and burn the bag to properly get rid of them. However, 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, these pests have natural predators. In some areas, tachinid flies have proven to be the most effective predator of earwigs, but there are others:

  • Parasitic wasps
  • Amphibians like frogs and toads
  • Spiders of all kinds
  • Centipedes

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. Consequently, 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 that has a lid with holes about ¼ inch in size.

It’s easier to use a plastic container where you can punch the holes yourself. Pincher bugs weirdly love the smell of the mix and will fall in and drown when they enter the holes.

9. Birds

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 the earwig bug are:

  • Bluebirds
  • Cardinals
  • Purple Martins
  • Titmice
  • Wrens

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 folds. Dampen the papers and 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 poison to most pests of crops!

Simply add a couple of tablespoons to a spray bottle filled with water. Next, add a little bit of liquid soap and shake well.

Use it around the garden and house. However, don’t spray directly on plants, as too much will likely burn the leaves.

12. Beer

This trap is pretty simple. Bury several half-empty cans of beer with their tops in line with the ground.

The fruity smell of the beer will lure the critters, and they’ll drown after pitching in. Additionally, the beer trap works great for slugs and snails.

13. Sticky Traps

Wrap duct tape, sticky side up, around a bit of cardboard, and place them around the house and garden. Furthermore, you can buy professional earwig traps online.

However, be sure to put it where pets won’t be able to get stuck on it too.

14. Pest Repelling Plants

Certain plants repel earwig insects from your garden. These include garlic, bay leaves, and wormwood. You can use these as companion plants or make pest-repellent concoctions out of them.

Additionally, planting herbs and flowering plants such as calendula, fennel, alyssum, and dill will attract the tachinid fly — earwig’s greatest enemy.

15. Pyrethrin

Derived from chrysanthemum flowers, this natural insecticide breaks down in sunlight so the best time to spray it is at night.

Pyrethrin is a great organic earwig killer and is safe to spray on plants even on the day of harvesting.


A pincher bug 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.

Sasha Brown

Blogger and lover of all things natural.

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