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Past Articles Library | Organic Pest Control | Earwig Control


(Forficula auricularia L.)

Earwigs are omnivores eating almost anything they can get to including living or dead plant material, meat (such as aphids or other insects), soap, starch, and even glue. Earwigs prefer moist, dark areas, and they are most active at night and seek shelter during day. They are commonly found in mulch, organic debris, cracks and crevices, under flower pots and boards. They frequently enter the house and are often found in the basement or crawlspace.



Earwigs are elongated, flattened insects, ranging from light red-brown to black and are easily recognized by their forcep-like appendages (pincers) on the end of the abdomen. The European earwig ranges from 1/2 to 3/4 inch (1.27 to 1.91 cm) long, with banded legs and reddish head. Most species have wings under short, hard wing covers, but they seldom fly. Young earwigs (nymphs) look like adults except they are smaller and lack wings.



Earwigs develop from egg to adult through gradual metamorphosis with four to five nymphal instars or stages. During the spring or autumn, females lay 20 to 50 smooth, oval, pearly-white or cream-colored eggs in the upper two to three inches (5 to 7.6 cm) of soil. Most species have one generation a year, but in milder climates, some remain active all year. Both eggs and adults overwinter in the soil. Adults and the young require moisture to live, and are found in damp crawl spaces, flower gardens near the home, in mulches, compost piles, trash, under boards and in wood piles. Earwigs rarely fly and are unable to crawl long distances, but often hitchhike in laundry baskets, cut flowers, luggage, newspapers, lumber, baskets of fruits and vegetables, automobiles, etc.




Earwigs feed on tender plants and can damage lettuce, strawberries, dahlias, marigolds, zinnias and roses. Earwigs are also notorious for eating holes in buds and blooms of Clematis while leaving the foliage alone. In greenhouses they are a pest and will feed on crops such as vegetables, fruits, and ornamentals. Outside they will feed on anything including forages and field plants.




Serious feeding damage may occur on flowers, vegetables, fruits and other plants, giving the leaves a ragged appearance with numerous, small, irregular holes. Also, decomposing organic matter is consumed. European earwigs feed on a variety of dead and living organisms, including insects, mites, and growing shoots of plants. They are voracious feeders on soft-bodied insects such as aphids and insect eggs and can exert significant biological control under some circumstances.




1. Earwigs like moist dark places to hide in during the day, so discourage earwigs by eliminating their desired habitat. Remove leaf litter, large stones, dead wood, wood piles, and mulches; keep shrubs trimmed.

2. Discourage and reduce entry into buildings by caulking and repairing cracks and crevices and checking door thresholds, windows and screens for a tight fit.


1. Earwigs like to stay hidden in moist dark places during the day and only come out at night to feed, so you can trap them easily during the day by providing them with a damp, dark place to crawl into like a rolled up newspaper that has been soaked in water so it is damp when placed in the garden. A short piece of hose also works.

2. You can also make a trap by filling a flowerpot with damp crumpled paper; then turn it upside down, but keep it propped up with a stick. Earwigs will crawl into the newspaper.

3. Earwigs can be trapped outdoors in cardboard boxes baited with oatmeal or bran with pencil hole size entry sites punched in the sides near the bottom.

4. Place the traps near damaged plants, or in mulched areas, among shrubs or similar habitats. Check your traps once a day to remove the insects you've caught and then get rid of them in the trash. To be sure, you can put them in a plastic bag before you throw them out so you know they won't be back!

5. You can also use a beer trap because earwigs are attracted to beer. Place some stale beer in small jars and set the jars on their sides. The earwigs will crawl right in.

6. You can also purchase earwig traps at the store and place those around vulnerable areas.

7. If found indoors, remove by vacuuming.

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Bramble fruits will tolerate some shade, but the more sun they have the more fruit they'll produce, especially in cooler climates.

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