Methods for Eliminating Earwigs from Outdoor Spaces

Earwigs are terrifying insects that appear out of nowhere. The best places to find these pests are in mulch, behind rocks, and inside grills. Any time they are caught in the light, they quickly move to a new hiding place. We have a section dedicated to helping you get rid of earwigs if you discover them in your garden.

Can earwigs bite me?

Large for an insect, earwigs can be intimidating due to their large, sharp pinchers. They'd rather eat the plants in your garden and flowerbeds than bother with you (or pinch you).

Managing and eradicating earwigs can be done in a number of ways. Learn their motivations and you'll have a head start.

How Do Earwigs Work?

Earwigs, of which there are roughly 2,000 species, are distinguished from other, shorter insects by the position of their pincers, which point backwards. They're able to fly because of their wings, but they rarely do so. They are fast fliers, though, and come in a caramel color. They mostly appear at night and quickly take cover when they sense danger. Because of this sociable nature, groups of earwigs (sometimes numbering in the dozens) can often be found swarming around a given area in search of sustenance and cover.

During the day, earwigs will seek out dim, cool areas, which can bring them into contact with people. They'll set up housekeeping among the mulch, in flowerpots, and under rocks. They also thrive in decomposing vegetation and thickets of ivy and other foliage. In fact, it's a good idea to clear the area around your vegetable garden of any dense vegetation, as pests may use it as a hiding place during the day and then come out at night to feast on your crops.

It's also possible for earwigs to find their way into your house, either as a result of accidental transport or as a means of evading harsh weather. One piece of good news is that they probably won't last long without access to food and water.

Earwigs in my home

Vegetables, Fruits, Flowers, and Berries are Vulnerable to Earwig Damage

Your crops will be safe from earwigs, but they will leave a mark nonetheless. You can see how they influence common plants in a garden by looking at:

  • Seedlings - These pests prey on young plants of all kinds, especially if they are tender.
  • Lettuce – All lettuces are susceptible to having their leaves eaten by earwigs due to their irregularly shaped holes. They could also find protection in the plant's many nooks and crannies.
  • Silk strands on corn can be consumed by earwigs. Because of this, pollination rates are reduced or not reached at all, which can stunt the growth of kernels.
  • Earwigs are a common pest of berry plants, especially strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. To the point of skeletonizing leaves, in fact. Keep in mind that the harm caused by snails might look similar, but the trails of slime they leave behind will give them away.
  • Earwigs prey on stone fruit such as peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots. The insects eat holes or gouges into the fruit.
  • Flowers are the only type of "crop" that earwigs can severely damage; they favor butterfly bush, dahlias, hollyhocks, marigolds, and zinnias. Earwigs, the suspected culprits, can be verified by checking the flowers at night.

Pincher bugs in my grill Pincer bugs in grill

The Grill Has Earwigs, What Gives?

Earwigs can often be found in close proximity to a grill, making this an ideal habitat for them. There are a number of factors that may draw these pests to grills, including the shade they provide during the day and the grease and oil that accumulates on and in the drip pan.

A common way to send these bugs fleeing, much to the chagrin of the grill master, is to simply open the grill door.

Here are a few suggestions for avoiding encounters:

  • Put It Somewhere Bright and Sunny — Earwigs like to spend the day in dark, quiet places. Place your grill where it will receive sunlight for the better part of the day. The grill's interior temperature will rise, creating an unpleasant environment for the pests.
  • Cleaning Your Grill Often - After each use, give your grill a good scrub to get rid of any leftover food that may have stuck to the grate or fallen through the holes. Pick up and dispose of any ash or cinders that could be used as makeshift homes.
  • Most grills have a small drip pan that catches grease so that oil doesn't drip on the ground under the grill; this pan should be emptied after use. As soon as the grease has cooled, the pan can be removed and cleaned.
  • Put the grill on high for 15 minutes before you put food on it to drive earwigs and other bugs out of their hiding places. There's also a grate that could use a scraping. Taking these steps should eradicate the pests that have invaded your home.

Options for Earwig Removal and Ear Traps

Getting rid of earwigs isn't easy. Because females bury their eggs, it's difficult to catch them in the act. Earwigs, like other fast-moving insects, make it challenging to squish them or even directly spray them. However, Safer® Brand has several options that will keep those pesky earwigs away.

Alternatively, you can use a simple earwig trap. In order to catch and kill earwigs, follow these directions for making an oil trap:

  1. Make some holes in the top of a small plastic bowl using a pencil.
  2. Soy sauce and vegetable oil should cover the bottom of the bowl.
  3. Dig a hole in the problem area that is just big enough to fit the bowl.
  4. Put something in the bowl, and cover it up to the rim, but don't cover it up. To trap earwigs, simply place the lid on top of the container and they will climb right on.
  5. Earwigs will be drawn to the soy sauce, will drown when they accidentally drop into the oil, and will eventually die.
  6. Refresh the blend frequently.

For a different kind of trap, the earwigs' natural tendency to conceal themselves is turned against them. How to make an earwig trap out of newspaper:

  1. Get a newspaper wet and roll it into a tube.
  2. Before sundown, place the newspaper roll in a planter.
  3. Get rid of the morning paper in a bag.
  4. You can take the newspaper somewhere private and read it there to see if it worked. Even so, earwigs will likely be abundant here.

Why Gardeners Hate Earwigs

Using Products with the Safer® Brand Mark Can Be Comforting

You can trust Safer® Brand's wide selection of OMRI Listed® pest control solutions to keep pests out of your house, yard, garden, and flowerbeds. When a pesticide has the OMRI Listed® seal of approval, you know it can be used in organic gardens without worry.

Join the Safer® Brand Facebook Community to talk about organic gardening and find out more about Safer® Brand.

Also, if you want to receive updates and links to great articles like this one from, be sure to sign up for the Safer® Brand E-Newsletter.

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