How to Eliminate Earwigs in Your Garden



Gardens are sanctuaries, places where we cultivate life and revel in nature’s bounty. But sometimes, they become battlegrounds where we face off against tiny foes that threaten our verdant dreams. One such adversary is the earwig, a nocturnal insect often found munching on the tender leaves of young plants under the cloak of darkness.

These slender, brownish insects, easily identified by their distinctive pincers, have a penchant for the moist and the dark, making gardens their ideal foraging grounds. Understanding the behavior of earwigs is crucial for any gardener looking to protect their leafy charges. They’re not just pests; their diet includes decaying plant matter and other insects too. However, when their numbers swell, they can turn from garden cleaners to plant menaces. As we embark on this guide, we’ll explore the habits of these uninvited guests and arm ourselves with the knowledge to manage their presence. From the dampness they love to the seedlings they devour, every aspect of earwig behavior provides us with clues on how to keep our gardens thriving, free from the pincer-wielding intruders that lurk in the shadows.

Understanding Earwig Behavior

Earwigs are the enigmatic, misunderstood characters of the garden’s nightly drama. By day, they’re elusive, tucking themselves away in the cool, damp recesses of your garden, beneath pots, or within dense foliage. They come alive at night, emerging from their hideouts to feast. With their unmistakable pincers, known as forceps, earwigs might look menacing, but they’re mostly harmless to humans. These forceps are more than just intimidating; they’re tools for wrangling dinner and dueling rivals. As gardeners sleep, earwigs are hard at work patrolling the greenery for morsels.

They’re not entirely villainous, though. In a twist, earwigs contribute to the garden’s wellbeing by preying on aphids and other pests that harm plants. However, their taste for fresh greens can make them a nuisance, particularly when they nibble on the soft, succulent parts of dahlias, lettuce, and young seedlings. This duality makes them complex characters in the garden’s ecosystem, serving as both protector and plunderer. By understanding their nocturnal habits and dual roles, gardeners can better strategize on how to coexist with or control these six-legged cast members.

Natural and Environmental Control Methods

When it comes to managing earwig populations without resorting to harsh chemicals, the best offense is a good defense. One of the most effective natural barriers is diatomaceous earth. This powdery substance is harmless to humans and pets but lethal to earwigs, who meet their demise as they crawl over these microscopic shards. Sprinkling a protective ring around your garden beds and the foundation of your home creates an inhospitable barrier for these critters. Recruiting the help of natural predators such as toads and lizards can be a game-changer.

These garden allies have a voracious appetite for earwigs, and by making your garden more welcoming to them, you can establish a natural defense system. Don’t underestimate the power of Mother Nature’s cycles. Wet seasons can trigger a population boom in earwig communities, but as the environment dries, their numbers often diminish. By understanding and leveraging these natural and environmental controls, you can maintain a balanced ecosystem in your garden where earwigs are kept in check, ensuring your plants can grow in peace.

Cultural Practices to Reduce Earwig Infestations

Earwig infestations can turn a thriving garden into a feast for these unwelcome guests, but with the right cultural practices, you can keep these critters at bay. Start by eliminating their favorite hiding spots: remove moist garden mulch and allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. This disrupts the damp environment earwigs thrive in. Additionally, homemade traps can be surprisingly effective. Try rolling up damp newspapers or filling shallow cans with oil; these simple contraptions can lure earwigs in and keep them from your plants. It’s also wise to revise your watering schedule.

Ditch the twilight waterings, as a nighttime soak creates an ideal world for earwigs to emerge and feast. Instead, water your garden in the morning, giving it time to dry during the day. Consider the flora you’re fostering. Some plants, like geraniums and snapdragons, are less appealing to earwigs. Introducing these into your garden can make it less of a target. By adopting these practices, you can create an environment that’s less inviting to earwigs, protecting your garden’s health and beauty.

Trapping and Removing Earwigs

If you’re grappling with earwigs turning your garden into their dining room, setting traps can be an effective way to curb their nightly feasts. A how-do-i-kill-earwigs-in-my-garden-2simple yet potent trap can be made using shallow containers, like tuna cans, filled with a mixture of canola oil and a dash of fish sauce. Tuck these under your plants in the evening, and the scent will draw earwigs in. As they attempt to indulge, they’ll slip into the oil and be unable to escape, effectively drowning.

This method not only traps them but also helps you gauge the size of the earwig population in your garden. Another concoction that proves irresistible to these insects is a blend of soy sauce and olive oil. This savory mix can lure hundreds of earwigs on a good night. However, while these traps are great for immediate relief, they’re not a silver bullet. The key is to use them as part of a broader strategy that includes environmental control and cultural practices. By integrating trapping with other methods, you can create a comprehensive defense against these unwelcome garden diners and ensure your plants remain the stars of the show.

Chemical Control Options

When all else fails and the earwigs still persist, it’s time to consider chemical control options, but tread lightly. Pesticides should be your Hail Mary, the final play when natural remedies and cultural practices haven’t quite cut it. Before you go down this route, make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions with the precision of a baker following a recipe. Misuse can harm more than just your target pests; it can affect beneficial insects, pets, and even the health of your soil. In some cases, a sticky barrier might be all you need. These can be applied around the stems of your plants, creating a physical hurdle too taxing for earwigs to cross.

Another option that toes the line between natural and chemical control is diatomaceous earth. While it’s a naturally occurring substance, it’s potent against earwigs when used correctly. Apply it dry, and remember, a little goes a long way. Whichever method you choose, remember that moderation is key. The goal is to eliminate the earwigs, not the garden they’ve invaded. With careful application and a judicious approach, you can reclaim your green space and restore balance to your backyard ecosystem.


In the verdant theater of our gardens, earwigs play a role that is both supportive and destructive. They may not be the arch-villains of our garden’s narrative, seldom killing plants outright, but their capacity to inflict harm on young, vulnerable greens cannot be ignored.

Throughout this journey, we’ve uncovered the nuanced behavior of earwigs, their preferences for darkness and moisture, and their dual role as both predator and pest. Effective control, we’ve learned, is not a single action but a symphony of strategies. It involves the keen understanding of their behavior, the clever use of traps, and the implementation of cultural practices that create an environment less conducive to their proliferation.

By integrating these approaches, gardeners can orchestrate a space where plants flourish and earwigs play a less intrusive part. As you step back into your garden, remember that balance is the key. With the insights and methods shared, you’re now equipped to tilt the scales in favor of your green sanctuary, ensuring that your garden remains a place of growth and joy, with earwigs as mere background players in its thriving life.