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Earwigs Don’t Wear Wigs

We get a lot of pest control questions at Ask Gardenerd.  Here’s one now:

“Hey Christy, Love your blog – thanks for all the great tips and pics!  I
live in Culver City and a year ago I turned my whole back yard into a
garden with raised beds. I’m loving it but have noticed lately I have
TONS of earwigs. I think they’re eating all my veggies, and strawberries
for that matter. Any tips on getting rid of them?  Everything I read
says to put out cardboard so they will congregate under, but then what??
Any help would be much appreciated!  Jess”

Jess, I feel for you.  Earwigs can make Swiss cheese out of beautiful lettuce leaves and herbs.  A few here and there won’t hurt anyone, but when you have an infestation, it’s time to take action.


An earwig I found hiding under a brick

Cardboard – What you’ve read is true – putting down cardboard, or better yet a tube of newspaper or an old paper towel roll, will help collect the earwigs for you.  They crawl under (or inside the tube in this case) and congregate in one place.  You can simply tip the cardboard tube into a waste bin or a bucket of soapy water to remove them, and then return the tube to the garden for another day.  Check the tube in the morning, before the sun hits the soil. Do this daily for best results.

Diatomaceous Earth – this is a desiccant
made up of fossilized matter that dehydrates the insects and leads to
their ultimate demise. You can get some from Gardeners Supply:Diatomaceous Earth, 4 Lbs.  You have to
apply the powder in a dry environment and between watering in order for
it to work.  Once it gets wet, it is much less effective.

Don’t mulch – I know that mulching helps retain water and keep soil cool, but it’s also an ideal location for earwigs to live.  If you can plant closer together, you’ll create a living mulch with your plants to block out the sun and reduce evaporation, and then you don’t have to mulch around your plants.

If none of these things work, then you can move on to something more drastic:

Bon-Neem Concentrate, 1 pint – it kills aphids, mites, flea beetles and earwigs among other things.  Use with caution because, even though it’s organic, it may also harm your beneficial insects as well.

Thanks for writing in.  Good hunting, and happy gardening!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Barbara

    I’d never heard of this before but a friend had great success putting out a bowl of olive oil. Was filled with earwigs in the morning!

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