There’s nothing more frustrating than to have your garden growing beautifully and then to have a pest invasion take out your prized plants. Pests can really plague a garden, and eliminating them is key to getting a good crop. I’ve been a professional organic farmer for 35 years and have lots of experience getting rid of notorious garden pests safely and naturally.
Pincher bugs, as we called them when we were kids, are mean little bugs that have pinchers on the ends of their rears that will grab your finger and not let go. They will eat your lettuce, corn silks, and the flowers in your garden.
What are Earwigs?
Earwigs are nocturnal, odd-looking nuisance insect pests that can make their way into your home in search of food, moisture, and harborage, similar to silverfish and firebrats. Earwigs are found all over the United States, and there are over 20 earwig species in the U.S. alone. On the plus side, earwig infestations are rare.
What do Earwigs Look Like?
Earwigs are elongated and slender, with pincers (forceps) extending backward from their abdomens. They measure from ¼” to 1” long, and are typically pale brown to black or reddish-brown, and with dark markings. They also have six legs and two thin antennae. They also have leathery-looking wings (front and back) that fold back snugly around their bodies.
Are Earwigs Dangerous?
Some earwig species produce a foul-smelling liquid used as a defense.
Earwig forceps look somewhat dangerous, but the insects are not poisonous, nor do they spread disease. Likely because of the protruding pincers extending from there abdomens which gives them a somewhat sinister look, there is a long-lived, but unproven, wives’ tale about how earwigs burrow into people’s ears to eat their brains while they sleep. They mainly use the pincers for self-defense and to fight off aggressive earwigs. They only bite people when they are picked-up or agitated, but the pinch rarely breaks the skin.
Earwig infestations are problematic because of the size of their population. These pests are known to live together in large groups both indoors and outside. Some species can cause damage to young plants, which can stunt their growth.
Here are my four favorite ways to eliminate earwigs naturally.
1. Remove any excess Moisture- wetness or dampness around pipes
2. Alleviate excessive humidity in basements or cellars, which attracts the earwigs, providing an excellent area to reproduce.
3. Adjust the outdoor lights to shine away from the house rather than directly onto patios and decks. Earwigs are attracted to lighting and will often find a comfy spot under chair/seat cushions, floor mats, welcome mats, etc.
4. Be sure that gutters and drain spouts drain AWAY from the home, rather than near the foundation. Consider installing a drain spout extender to keep water away from the foundation.
5. Remove any decaying plant matter around the house, flower beds, indoor household plants, etc.
6. Plant Pest-repelling herbs around the home such as anise, buckwheat, cosmos, dill, fennel, or tansy. Be aware that some herbs such as MINT actually attract them.
7. To prevent earwigs from coming inside your home, sprinkle diatomaceous earth along potential entry points (the edges of doors), forcing them to trek through it in order to enter your home. The diatomaceous earth works by drying out their exoskeleton, killing them; but it’s perfectly safe to use around pets.
8. Caulk or use weather stripping to seal around all possible entry points (windows, doors, pipes, foundation cracks, etc).