What are earwigs?
The word ‘earwig’ was derived from the words ‘ēare’ meaning ear and ‘wicga’ meaning insects, and are also known as Pincer Bugs. They belong to Dermaptera species and are scientifically known as Forficula Auricularis. Th
ey are brown-colored, flat-bodied insects having a length of ¾ inches, that can be easily identified from the pair of pincers present at the end of their tails as they move quickly in search of food.
There are more than 10,000 different earwig species. The female earwigs lay around 20 to 30 eggs in a burrow made by them about three inches deep in the soil.
Where do Earwigs live?
They prefer damp and dark areas such as sidewalks, stones, and basements. It is rare for them to be attracted to lights as, during the daytime, they mostly stay inside organic materials like pine, straw, and leaf litter.
They are seen frequently near sowbugs, millipedes, doors, and windows as they try to feed on plants and vegetables kept near them.
What do Earwigs eat?
Earwigs are night-feeding insects that feed on crops, especially corn, potato, lettuce, rose, silk and, butterfly bushes. They can also damage seedlings as they feast on flowers and newly ripened fruits.
Since they feed at night, they also act as scavengers on decaying organic substances, and as predators for insect larvae, aphids, and many other bugs.
Superstitions about Earwigs
There are various superstitions associated with earwigs, mainly due to its name. According to the old wives’ tale, earwigs crawl into the human brains at night through their ears and lay their eggs.
Earwigs are not known to crawl inside ear canals but are frequently found near the ears.
Are Earwigs harmful?
Earwigs damage crops and plants by feeding on their leaves and making holes. They cause maximum damage during the rainy season as they seek shelter from rain and move towards various trees and plants, irrespective of them being healthy or decomposed.
If they increase in number indoors, especially during the summer season, they might start attacking your storage spaces and feed on food items such as bread and cookies
How to get rid of earwigs in potted plants
Earwigs don’t occupy large spaces due to their small size; but once they increase their number, their presence can be determined by noticing their black-colored excreta on the leaves.
Once you get to know about their presence, you can get rid of them through the following ways in order to save your plants:
- Lay bamboo or garden hose between your plant beds to catch any earwig.
Once caught, you can dump them in soapy water.
- Spread petroleum jelly around your plant stem to avoid them coming near your plants.
- In the absence of children, spray borax powder to prevent woodpile infections.
- Make oil pit traps by combining olive oil and soya sauce in a plastic container and sealing it. Once sealed, make some holes at the top and pace it about three inches under your soil. Soya sauce will attract earwigs in the box and olive oil won’t allow them to leave.
- Use alcohol like Isopropanol and Ethanol as a surfactant or killing agent. Before using them on earwigs, test them on plants. If they cause any damage, dilute it by adding some water and use it again.
- Use insecticides such as aerosol to control their infestation.
How to get rid of earwigs in the garden naturally
Since earwigs feed on plants and crops, it is best to use natural ways to get rid of them in order to keep the plants and crops healthy.
Here are some ways to naturally get rid of earwigs from your garden:
- Spray botanical insecticides in cracks or breeding places of earwigs.
- Spray lavender, clove, citrus, basil, or cinnamon solution near basements and foundations. Make the solution by mixing one-gallon water with half-ounce of any oil.
- Use sodium light or lamp.
- Before bringing anything in your home, check the presence of earwigs in them.
- Make a ring of Diatomaceous Earth around the base of the plant to avoid earwigs from entering.
- Place damp newspaper in your garden and check for earwigs near them. If found, dispose them in soapy water.
- Use an empty tuna can filled with oil to attract earwigs and then dispose them.
- Presence of birds and lizards in your garden can reduce earwigs as they feed on them.
How to prevent Earwigs?
You can prevent earwigs from entering your garden or house through the following ways:
- Remove garden debris and excess pilings to prevent earwigs from breeding.
- Get rid of excessive moisture and keep the nearby areas dry.
- Direct rainwater and spouts away from your house.
- Use weather stripping to block the entry space between the sides of doors, windows, and pipes.
- Use ornamental stones or gravel to make barriers against earwigs and pests.
- Make your garden bird-friendly as birds act as natural predators for earwigs.
Earwigs are insects that feed on plants and crops during the night time making it hard for humans to notice them before they increase in number. Once you get even the slightest hint about their infestation, get rid of them using natural ways so that no damage is done to plants, and crops remain edible