Earwig Prevention and Removal

By: Melanie Cons

April 26, 2013

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Earwigs, or pincher bugs, like to eat decomposing plants and wet leaves. They invade your flower beds and gardens, and they may even invade your home. Follow these simple steps to get rid of earwigs either naturally or with chemicals. You can also learn how to prevent earwig invasions before they happen.
  1. Make a Can Trap: Place shallow tin cans (like cat food cans) in your yard. Fill them with 1/2” (1.25 cm) of vegetable oil. This will attract the earwigs, they’ll crawl in and drown. Dump and refill the can as needed.
  2. Make an Earwig-Attracting Roll Trap: Roll up an old newspaper and place it near the base of your plants around sunset. (Alternatively, you can cut up sections of an old garden hose.) Empty these earwig traps into a bucket of water every morning, or place the inhabitants a long, long way from your garden bed and house.
  3. Make a Shoebox Trap: Poke some entry holes in the outer sides of a shoebox near the base. Place a thin layer of oatmeal or bran in the box and put the lid on it. Leave it on the porch or other entrance areas around your home to trap the earwigs.
 

ENCOURAGE NATURAL PREDATORS

1. Encourage natural earwig predators like toads and birds in your yard. The animals that prey on earwigs will help reduce the population and keep it under control. This means making your garden of interest to birds or toads, by having food sources (plants they like, etc.) and shelter opportunities.
  • Attract toads by allowing plants near your house by not adjacent to your house grow wild. Or place some bricks on the ground, lay boards across them and put plants across the boards. Either of these steps will create a shady environment for toads.
  • Draw birds in by putting out a bird feeder or nest boxes. Plant bushes and trees that supply berries, etc. that you know for sure the local birds like. Birds may also visit a clean bird bath.
 

CHEMICAL MEANS FOR RIDDING YOUR HOUSE AND GARDEN OF EARWIGS

1. Spray suitable insecticides around the base of your home. Spray out to around 2 feet (61 cm) away from your foundation.
  • Thoroughly spray your flowerbed mulch, and don’t forget crawl spaces under your house’s subfloor.
  • Apply the spray late in the afternoon so that chemicals are still active when the earwigs come out for the eve- ning.
  • Try spraying first. If that doesn’t work, apply an emulsifiable insecticide dissolved in plenty of water for earwigs hiding under your soil.
2. Apply a dust or aerosol that is approved for indoor use. Spray your baseboards, the inside of cabinets and other hiding places. 3. Spray earwigs with spray-and-wash cleaners. These will kill on contact. 4. Use a cockroach trap or cockroach spray. Both of these are effective against earwigs.  

PREVENTING FUTURE EARWIG INVASIONS

1. Block earwigs from getting into your home.
  • Make sure that window screens have no holes; fix any holes you discover.
  • Check that door thresholds and window frames have weatherstripping (self-adhesive) to cover large gaps.
  • Check for cracks and holes in your house. Check eaves, foundations and floorboards for holes and cracks. Seal these (with the correct sealant), especially where electrical and plumbing fittings have created holes.
  • Rub eucalyptus oil on window ledges and door frames to discourage entry by earwigs.
2. Caulk any cracks around windows, doors and pipes. Also caulk or apply mortar to cracks and gaps in your foundation. 3. Get rid of damp conditions around your foundation. Look under outdoor faucets and in crawl spaces. Get a builder or plumber to fix any leakages that you’re not able to remedy yourself. 4. Drop a border of gravel or stone around your foundation. Make sure that the gutters and downspouts carry water away from your foundation 5. Switch to sodium vapor yellow-tinted light bulbs on your porch or around your windows. Earwigs (and other insects) are attracted to bright light at night. 6. Plant a mass of deterrent herbs around your home area. Herbs such as mint, basil and lemon thyme may deter the entry of earwigs and other insects. Having them close to home is great for cooking too!