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Most accept that spending time in the garden is about enjoying nature. However there is some wildlife we may not wish to get too close to.
Although like all creatures Earwigs have their part to play in the ecosystem not everybody appreciates them. Not only do Earwigs look rather formidable, their name suggests you probably do not want to get too close.
These tubular insects are characterised as a garden pest and if in large numbers will damage plants. We will aim to learn a little bit more about Earwigs and how we can get rid of them in our garden.
What are Earwigs?
Also known as Pincer bugs Earwigs are small, beetle like, insects which are extremely common and widespread.
Earwigs have a long and flat appearance with their legs positioned out towards the sides. This gives them a movement similar to centipedes and woodlouse.
Earwigs are typically nocturnal choosing to hide away in nooks and crannies during the day. These insects prefer moderate temperatures and are more common in temperate climates.
They like damp environments and prefer places with dense vegetation.
Can Earwigs really crawl in your ear?
Despite their name and stories of folklore Earwigs do not try to crawl into people’s ears. Earwigs are scared of humans and would much prefer to forage through leaf litter instead.
A human ear would hold absolutely no comfort or advantage to an insect which eats insects and flowers. Hence there is no need to worry about finding earwigs near you home. They are harmless to humans.
Do Earwigs bite?
Like most insects Earwigs do have the ability to bite. However it is doubtful they are powerful enough to break human skin.
The pincers at the end of their tales do not sting and can only pinch with limited pressure. Earwigs will never go after people and will only attempt to bite in self defence.
Do Earwigs fly?
Earwigs do have wings and do have the ability to fly but rarely do. This is probably because once they find suitable habitat there is little need to travel long distances.
What do Earwigs eat?
Earwigs are omnivorous and have an extremely varied diet. They will eat other insects and young invertebrates like slugs and snails.
However they will also feed on decaying plant material including wood, foliage and flowers. Earwigs are also capable of consuming large quantities of garden pests like aphids.
However their status as a beneficial insect has never been celebrated as they also like to eat plants. Earwig damage typically presents itself as holes and munched sections of leaves and flowers.
Ways to get rid of Earwigs from your garden naturally
Most people are not big fans of earwigs and would like them removed from their garden. However with an increasing ecological movement many are moving away from spraying chemicals.
Consequently we have listed 13 ways to get rid of earwigs from your garden naturally below.
Earwigs are relatively easy to live trap and remove from your garden. Choose a location where you regularly see Earwigs and create a pit trap.
Bury a deep plastic cup into the soil so the rim is flush with the soil level. Place a piece of tile or broken slab over the top resting on stones so it creates a crevice.
Earwigs will seek the dark shelter and fall into the trap.
Glue strips are pads which can be positioned where you have problem insects. As the Earwigs walk over them they become stuck and therefore immobilised.
These can be cut up and placed along corridors where you see them walking.
This substance is a powdered type of sedimentary rock formed from fossilised plants. When in powdered form the particles can be microscopic.
When any insect comes into contact with it, it gets inside their exoskeleton and prevents them from moving. This immobilises them stopping them from feeding.
Earwigs do not like strong smells and they find cinnamon particularly offensive. Cinnamon powder can be applied to places where you see them.
Alternatively Cinnamon essential oils can be used to fragrance areas you want to keep earwigs away from.
Create homemade repellents
Homemade spray repellents are relatively easy to make at home. Simply boil up water with the leaves of aromatic plants like mint, lemon balm and Pennyroyal.
Brew up the mixture to release as much of the plants natural oils as possible. Sieve the brewed water and mix it with white vinegar and apply to affected areas.
Plant strong smelling plants
Earwigs like other insects do not like strong smelling plants like herbs. Therefore it is a good idea to plant as many aromatic plants as possible. This is especially so around patios or other areas you do not want to come into contact with Earwigs.
Seal cracks and holes
Nooks and crannies provide Earwigs with the perfect places to shelter and hide from predators. Therefore it is a good idea to seal up and cracks and gaps you find around your garden. This can be done with a good quality, clear, external sealant.
Remove garden clutter
Like many garden pests Earwigs like clutter and places which provide them security. Piles of old building materials and stacks of old logs will provide perfect hideaways. Hence it is always a good idea to remove clutter from such areas.
Keep your garden well maintained
Making sure your lawn is cut, borders weeded and bushes trimmed will all help to reduce Earwigs. These insects like as much dense vegetation to hide in as possible. Keeping your garden well maintained will dramatically reduce Earwigs.
Remove decaying wood
Decaying wood provides a welcome habitat for Earwigs in the garden. Old logs and stacks of old timber provide moist and dark places to feed and forage. By removing decaying wood in your garden you will dramatically reduce earwig numbers.
Use sealed composters
Compost heaps can be effective at producing compost but also act as breeding grounds for pests. This is also the case for Earwigs; the layers of decomposing material provide both food and shelter for them. It is best to use sealed composters like tumblers. These can form compost faster and are difficult for insects to enter.
Birds are very accomplished predators of earwigs and capable of devouring many every summer. However garden bird numbers have suffered in recent years due to a lack of suitable habitat. Try to encourage birds into the garden where you can! This can involve setting up bird baths and installing bird boxes.
Hedgehogs are small mammals which travel through gardens and are very effective at eating pests. These foragers have a keen sense of smell and capable of sniffing out hiding Earwigs.
However like birds Hedgehog numbers are in decline. Encourage hedgehogs by creating access points to your boundaries and install hedgehog nesting boxes.
For more information about making your garden more hedgehog friendly read our article here.
Garden landscaping Earwigs love
One of the best ways to permanently reduce Earwigs in your garden is by creating a less favourable environment. The first step to achieving this is by first discovering what types of garden landscaping they like. Below we have listed the typical types of landscape features which encourage Earwigs.
Garden landscaping earwigs hate
Re-landscaping your garden in a way that will not be accommodative to Earwigs is an effective strategy. This is particularly useful if you were already planning on changing your garden. Below we have listed the types of garden landscaping that will discourage Earwigs.
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If you are planning on landscaping you garden yourself visit our resources page or recommended tools article here.
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Paul Nicolaides has over 30 years of recreational gardening and 20 years of professional landscaping experience. He has worked for landscape contractors including design and build practices across London and the South East. In 2006 he qualified with a BA Hons degree and post graduate diploma in Landscape Architecture. In 2009 he founded Ecospaces an ecological landscaping practice which aims to improve social cohesion and reduce climate change through landscaping. In 2016 he founded Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners which designs and builds gardens across Buckinghamshire and the South East. This blog aims to provide easy problem solving information to its audience and encourage others to take up the joy of landscaping and gardening.