Don’t let the name scare you, earwigs are actually one of the good guys when it comes to organic gardening. These beneficial insects help control harmful pests in your garden by eating them. They’re especially effective at controlling aphids, caterpillars, and grubs. The best way to attract earwigs to your garden is by providing them with a habitat. Here’s how to create a friendly environment for these helpful critters.
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Dealing with Bugs Doesn’t Get Any Easier
Gardening can be like a never-ending battle against the bugs. From friendly critters that help protect your plants to more unwelcome guests, they all come out when you least expect it. But one bug in particular might make even the bravest of gardeners recoil: earwigs – or as some people call them “pincher bugs” due to their pincer claws! Although these critters may sometimes pop up randomly throughout our gardens, keeping their population under control isn’t too difficult and will result in fewer worries about sharing lettuce with them!
What are Earwigs?
Earwigs. Maybe you’ve heard of them. Maybe you haven’t. They’re a common garden pest found all around the world. Not only do they destroy your herbs and vegetables; they can also be very intrusive and make navigating the garden an unpleasant task. Don’t worry though – organic methods are here to save the day! With organic methods like companion planting, manual removal, and application of organic insecticides, you no longer need to worry about infestations of earwigs ruining your gardens!
The word ‘earwig’ comes from the Old English words ‘ear-wicga’, which technically means “ear wiggler” or “ear creature”. Their name derives from an old myth that these insects crawled into people’s ears. The belief was that they crawled into your ear and laid eggs in your brain. This turned out to be not true at all!
Earwigs are attracted to decaying wood and plant material. They like dark, damp places, which is why they are commonly found in basements, wood piles, or even under pots. If you notice under the pot, it’s usually damp and dark. They are in some ways beneficial insects since they also feed on aphids, maggots, insect eggs, army ants, and grubs.
What They Look Like
Earwigs have long, flat, slender bodies. Some species have wings, while others do not. They have a pair of pinchers, or cerci. Male earwigs have long, curved cerci, while females have short, straight ones. They use their cerci for hunting, defense, and mating. Although they can pinch humans with their cerci, they are not dangerous.
How Does an Earwig Infestation Occur?
An earwig infestation can occur if you have the right conditions. This means you have an abundance of goodies that they like to eat that happen to be in your garden. If there are lots of plant debris and small insects that they like to feast on, you can find yourself with an infestation.
How to Prevent and/or Get Rid of Earwigs
The best way to deal with any type of infestation or issues with a pest is to take preventative measures.
Here are some quick and easy tips you can use as preventative measures:
- Always keep your garden neat and tidy. Remove debris, fruit on the ground, and other types of dead plant material.
- Keep wood piles or piles of plant debris away from your garden. For example our wood pile is at least 30 feet away from our garden.
- Create a bird friendly environment. Birds eat earwigs!
- Check the drainage of your soil. Remember, earwigs like damp places. If your soil is holding too much moisture, this may cause a good environment for them.
How to Get Rid of Earwigs
- Set out oil traps. In a container, use a combination of vegetable oil and soy sauce. Cover the container with a lid, and put holes in the lid. Be sure the holes are large enough for the earwigs to fit through. The smell of the oil trap will attract them.
- Use a combination of equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. As a word of caution, always test a small section of the plant(s) you intend to spray to see how it’ll react.
- The alcohol should be at least 70%.
- Try diatomaceous earth (DE) or boric acid.
- Use care while using either of these methods. Although DE is an organic method of pest control, it will also affect beneficial insects like honeybees.
- Combine a non-toxic dish soap with water. Spray on and around the plants, as well as any areas you’ve seen earwigs.
What are the takeaways from this post? To summarize what we’ve learned:
•Earwigs are are attracted to decaying wood and plant material, and dark, damp places.
• Earwigs can be beneficial insects. They eat things like aphids, maggots, insect eggs, army ants, and grubs.
• To prevent an infestation: always keep your garden neat and tidy; keep wood piles or piles of plant debris away from your garden; create a bird friendly environment; and check the drainage of your soil.
• To get rid of earwigs: set out oil traps using a combination of vegetable oil and soy sauce; use a combination of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle; try diatomaceous earth (DE) or boric acid; combine non-toxic dish soap with water.
Have you ever experienced an earwig infestation? What organic tips do you have to share with other gardens that help? Share in the comments below!