Here are tips on how to identify and get rid of earwigs, also known as pincher bugs or dermaptera, in the garden.
What is an Earwig or Pincher Bug?
Earwigs can be found in almost any zone, although they more likely to inhabit southern climates. You might have trouble spotting one—not only are they quick movers, they are also nocturnal, and tend to hide out during the day when you are tending the garden. They like decaying wood and plant material, and dark, damp spaces. Often times they can be found in basements and woodpiles. The name "earwig" comes from the Old English ear-wicga, which means "ear insect", and it is named so because its hind legs are shaped like human ears.
How to Identify Earwigs
- These one-inch long dark brown insects are easily identified by their forceps.
- Pincher bugs feed on other insects, such as aphids and spidermites, which is one benefit. Unfortunately, they will also feed on the rest of your garden.
- They are especially fond of flowers, lettuce, celery and fruits.
- Leaves will appear jagged and full of holes.
How to Get Rid of Earwigs
Generally, earwigs are not as much of a threat to your garden as other pests like Japanese Beetles, but they are just as big of an annoyance! Try these remedies:
- Lay one-foot sections of bamboo or garden hose in the beds between your plants. Check these “traps” each morning, and dump the earwigs into a bucket of soapy water.
- Spread petroleum jelly around the stems of your plants. Earwigs won’t crawl over it.
- If they are infesting your woodpile, try sprinkling borax around it, but keep pets and children away from this area after doing so.
- Combine equal parts soy sauce and olive oil, put it in a small plastic container, and secure the lid. Punch holes in the top of the container, near the lid. Make the holes large enough for the earwigs to get in. Bury the container in the soil just up to the holes. The soy sauce will attract the earwigs, and the oil will prevent them from escaping. Change the mixture as needed.