They have wings, but they hardly ever fly, and large pincers in the back. Male earwigs have pincers that are more curved than females.
A large infestation of earwigs can damage garden crops. As a result, it is necessary that you get rid of them if you spot many.
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 .
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.
How to Get Rid of Earwigs Naturally
These critters eat garden plants — seedlings and leaves. Some will even eat fruits 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 earwigs in the garden, potted plants, and home organically.
1. Soapy Water
This is an easy home remedy for earwigs in your garden. Mix a few drops of pure organic liquid soap with water and pour it into a spray bottle.
Dawn dish soap can work for this recipe; however, we recommend using organic soap. Spray the solution right onto the bugs, and it will kill them.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
This naturally occurring powder works great because it kills earwigs and other soft-bodied pests after severely dehydrating them. This is our recommended brand for outdoor use.
Sprinkle around the roots of your crops and potted plants. For the best results, make it into a spray. Read more on how to make diatomaceous earth spray and use it in the garden.
However, use food-grade diatomaceous earth to get rid of earwigs in your house, bathroom, mailbox, and other personal spaces.
3. Essential Oils
This is a repelling rather than a killing method, but everything that keeps earwigs away is useful.
To use essential oils to get rid of earwigs, mix 15 drops of oil like lavender, basil, cinnamon, or clove in 4 ounces of water. Next, add to a spray bottle and spray everywhere these flying bugs with pinchers are hiding.
The stronger the scent, the more repellent it is, but don’t use floral scents as they eat flowers. This treatment is great for use indoors.
Mixed with water (or used straight) and sprayed liberally around the garden and house, vinegar is a good deterrent for the critters.
Combined with a little liquid soap, vinegar will kill earwigs 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 do 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
There are quite a few natural earwig 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
7. Lighted Trap
To get down an earwig infestation, mix up a large bowl of liquid soap and water or plain vinegar and place it 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
For this bait recipe, 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.
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 earwig bugs are:
- Purple Martins
It’s a good idea to check which are native to your area to ensure success in attracting them to your vegetable garden.
10. Newspaper Trap
This method is a good use of old newspapers. It makes a very nice shelter for the critters.
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 this homemade earwig killer spray around the garden and house. However, don’t spray directly on plants, as too much will likely burn the leaves.
You can also add baking soda to soapy water and pour it down the drain to stop earwigs from coming up.
Make a DIY earwig trap using beer. Bury several half-empty cans of beer with their tops in line with the ground.
The fruity smell of the beer will lure these brown, reddish-brown, or black bugs with pincers, 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
There are certain plants that 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 — the earwig’s greatest enemy.
Azera is a great organic earwig pesticide that is safe to spray on plants even on the day of harvesting.
Pyrethrins and Azadirachtin are ingredients in this natural insecticide. It breaks down in sunlight and you can use it on most fruits and vegetables.
Do Coffee Grounds Repel Earwigs?
While coffee grounds repel some insects like slugs, snails, and ants, we couldn’t find any information to say they repel earwigs. We also haven’t tried it ourselves, but it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try.
Whether you call it an ear wick bug, ear wings bug, scissor bug, or pincher bug, the 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 control methods listed above will help in getting rid of them without harming yourself, your pets, or the environment.