How to Get Rid of Earwigs & Protect Your Plants

Earwigs can’t hurt humans, but they can do a number on your plants. It's time to take control and learn how to get rid of earwigs once and for all.

Published August 4, 2023
earwig in the garden

Earwigs - aka the creepy crawlies with a pointy butt that you've definitely tried to intercept your dog from eating. Don't worry about stuffing your ears full of cotton balls; these garden pests aren't coming for your brains anytime soon. But if they're starting to trek inside your house, you might have a plethora of them trashing your gardens. So, it's time to take control and get rid of those earwigs once and for all.

What Are Earwigs?

Earwigs are small, long black/brown bugs with pinchers on their butts. As omnivores, they'll eat other bugs and your plants too - including the good pollinators you want to keep around. While they do love to munch on decaying organic materials, they've got no qualms about taking hunks out of your live plants if there's nothing else to eat.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs

Earwigs can't actually hurt humans, but they can really do a number on your plants if they congregate and don't have any decaying material to eat up. Keep your gardens protected by following these methods for getting rid of pesky earwigs.

Secure Your Home's Entry Points

Just like when you get a trail of tiny sugar ants in your house and can't pinpoint where they're coming in, earwigs will appear out of nowhere with no clear entry point. To keep earwigs from getting indoors, check the screens, doorways, and windows for a tight closure. Also check the caulk around your perimeter and touch up any spots that've worn away.

Secure Outdoor Faucets and Hookups

Earwigs like damp spaces, and that leaky faucet or air conditioning hookup can make a perfect little home for them. Choke the earwigs out by removing the spaces they like best. So, go check that the faucets and hook ups are fully tightened.

Check Your Gutters for Buildup

You don't want to give the earwigs free food, and all those leaves and debris that're just sitting waterlogged and slowly decaying in your gutters are a feast fit for an earwig king. Check your gutters and pull out anything you find.

Get Rid of Anything That Creates Damp Shade

If you really can't seem to stop the earwig infestation, you might need to take drastic measures. Since they're not social creatures, you won't always be able to pinpoint a colony. So, remove things like mulch, walkway stones, bird baths, thatch, and anything else that could create a shady place for them to congregate.

Remove Organic Material From Your Garden

As your plants grow, they'll shed old leaves, flowers, or vegetation/fruit. While this can make for a lovely compost, leaving it right underneath your fresh plants only brings earwigs right up to your plants. You're practically giving your plants up for the taking. So, as you prune your garden, remove any dead stuff you find along the way.

Make an Earwig Trap

There are multiple ways to lure earwigs to their unsuspecting deaths, but one easy way we like is to leave out tuna or sardine oil in the open can near your garden. The earwigs should be drawn to it and get trapped in the slippery substance.

Kill Them With Rubbing Alcohol

Much like vinegar, rubbing alcohol is a great household item you can use when trying to keep pests out of your garden and off your plants. For earwigs, simply spray the ones you find outside with a 1:1 water and isopropyl alcohol mixture.

Use a Traditional Pesticide

If all your DIY methods have failed and earwigs keep coming back, then it's time to bring out the big guns. You can use any traditional pesticide spray to keep them away from your property.

Helpful Hack

Make sure you're only spraying your actual plants with a plant-safe earwig spray. And if you're worried about burning your plants, only spray in the evening and patch test on a leaf or two before spraying the whole thing down.

There's No Need to Wig Out Over Earwigs

Earwigs are more annoying than they are dangerous. Yes, they can eat up your plants if they're not dealt with, but finding one or two outside your house isn't an immediate cause for alarm. Just follow these preventative measures to keep them off your property and take the necessary steps to kill the infestation if one builds up.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs & Protect Your Plants