Earwigs are pretty gross, but so is the thought of bombarding your garden with pesticides to get rid of them. These omnivorous insects will eat other insects in your garden, which is helpful, but they may turn to devouring your plants when they run out of tasty aphids, maggots, grubs, and worms. In this case, you may want to try a few natural earwig remedies.
Should They Stay?
When looking for natural ways to deal with insects, always remember that the most natural thing you can do is leave them alone. Earwigs eat a lot of other pest insects and typically focus on dead and decaying plants when they fancy a salad. They don't usually do a lot of damage to healthy plants.
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Note too that earwigs aren't dangerous. They can bite humans with their large pincers, but they rarely do, and the bite is very mild. Their pincers may look threatening, but they're not very strong.
Earwigs are more likely to startle you than actually hurt you, especially if they fly. Because they rarely do it, people are often surprised to learn that earwigs can fly. The first time you see one do it, it will likely scare the bejesus out of you, but it won't hurt you.
Make a Trap
If you don't want to touch the earwigs, an oil trap is a great option. To make one, mix together a 50/50 solution of soy sauce and olive oil in a container. Put the lid on the container and poke a few holes in it that are large enough for the earwig to crawl through. Then, bury the container in the garden up to the lid. The earwigs will crawl in for the soy sauce, and the oil will trap them. You can just throw away the trap and make a new one.
You can do the same if you eat tuna fish packed in oil. Remove the tuna from the can and enjoy it but leave behind the oil. Bury the tuna can up to the rim in the soil and let the earwigs trap themselves while looking for a meal.
If you're not quite so squeamish about touching the earwigs, you can make a simple "trap" by laying a garden hose or a bamboo pole on the ground in your garden. The earwigs will congregate there. In the morning, you can simply lift the pole, pick up the earwigs, and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.
Try Physical Barriers
There are two easy ways to keep earwigs from climbing onto and eating your plants. The most humane way is to smear petroleum jelly on the bottom of your plant stems. Earwigs won't walk across it and therefore won't be able to climb up your plants and eat them.
Are you feeling a little more sadistic? Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth around the garden. This won't hurt you or your pets, but it will cut up the underside of any earwigs that walk through it, ultimately drying them out and killing them. Diatomaceous earth works well and is perfectly safe to use around food crops.
Use Homemade Insect Sprays
You can kill earwigs with homemade insect sprays made of safe and natural ingredients. One spray recipe calls for diluting a 70 percent alcohol solution into an equal amount of water. Another calls for 4 to 5 tablespoons of dish soap to a gallon of water.
When using a homemade spray, always test it on an inconspicuous area of your plants before spraying them. Some plants are susceptible to spotting and discoloration, especially if you spray on a sunny day. There is one other caveat to these homemade sprays. They only work with direct contact and have no residual effects. You'll have to spray insects directly when you see them.