Controlling Earwigs


First the spring rains brought the snails, which ultimately we were able to control with deadline. Then next came the earwigs, otherwise known as “pincer-bugs”. They were munching their way through our Swiss chard, flat-leaf parsley, and even the beet greens. They annually eat up our gardenias. The dilemma is that Earwigs are both beneficial and non-beneficial insects in the garden. They eat bugs as well as some garden vegetables. I’ve read they will help control scale on apple trees, but they are definitely not welcome around my chard and parsley!

An easy and mostly effective way to control them is to take empty tuna cans and fill them 1/2 inch up with vegetable oil. Place a dollop of bacon fat in the oil. Place the cans around the garden near the plants where the earwigs are doing the most harm. The earwigs will be attracted to the oil and crawl in, and drown in the oil. Empty and replace the oil and fat when the can fills up a bit. This method won’t kill all the earwigs, but will keep them in check.


Note that if you have neighborhood cats that occasionally roam by, you will want to run the empty tuna cans through the dishwasher first, to rid them of the cat-attracting tuna smell. When I started with the cans this season I was often surprised to find them licked clean of their oil the next morning (I’m sure some of those dead pincer bugs got gobbled up too, yech!)

22 thoughts on “Controlling Earwigs

  1. ah yes, you must be an enlightened earwig. may i suggest that if you smell bacon fat in a sea of olive oil that you restrain any impulses of greed and run the other way? and while you’re at it, please stay out of my garden; you’ve been eating my lunch.

    thank you for your prayers.


  2. Hi there, I have these little guys visiting me nside my house…what do they find so attractive in my old house? Will the oil cans work in the house as well?

  3. Hi Liz,
    I think the oil cans would just attract more earwigs to the inside of your house. What they like to eat is outside – plants, flowers, other bugs. But apparently they can eat just about anything and can survive quite well indoors where it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I have read that they do not nest indoors, so that’s helpful. Like preventing ants, you need to seal up any cracks that may lead indoors. We get a few of them in the house as well. They get thrown in the toilet. Drowning is quite effective for killing them, especially once flushed.

    They will hide out in newspapers. So if you get a newspaper delivered in the morning. Shake it out first, before bringing it indoors. Earwigs love to hide between the pages.

  4. I keep finding these things in my house mostly near cool or wet items. I now just found a couple in my shower. How do you get rid of them in the house??????

  5. I heard from the Ag dept. that a goose will eat all the snails & slugs in the yard. If I did not live in the city limits, that would be my choice.

  6. I’ve been at war with earwigs for years now. They’ve already chewed up my radishes, Marigolds and even pumpkin plants!
    I looked up some home remedies for controlling the insects and found that washing machine soap mixed with water seems to work, but it’s most effective when you go to your garden at night and pour it directly on the pests while they’re feeding. I applied the solution to my radish plants early last night (yes, some plants survived), then went back out after about four hours and didn’t find one earwig on them. The soap mix doesn’t harm plants, but I recommend washing it off when you water the next day nevertheless.
    Before this, I tried Insecticidal Soap and it wasn’t nearly as effective (I used up the bottle in about one week!). Washing machine soap is cheaper and it appears to do the trick. Just mix about half a cup to every gallon of water.

  7. I have earwigs in the house. I find them in laundry baskets, crawling across the counter in the middle of the night and in the basement. I don’t want to use a commercial pesticide in the house because of the kids, what can i do to get rid of them?

  8. I live in Atlantic Canada. Earwigs are a total nuisance in the flower beds, I see them eating marigold and now my sunflowers. I have not seen any benefit to having these pests in my flowers.

  9. Actualy,
    They do nest indoors. In my home my family and I recently noticed all the ear wigs crawling on the walls, moldings and floors. we then cleared everything and found a nest behind a peice of furniture. It looks like little clumps of dirt. And whatever you do, do not vacume them up, because they will make a nest inside the vacume! your best bet its so sweep it up and flush it down the toilet. we still have earwigs crawling around though. Not as much as it used to be before we got rid of the nest, but still a good amount. How do we get rid of the rest?

  10. oh my god I feel like I’m going crazy, we had a childs play structure outside that we took apart to give away and found inside it was infested with hundreds of earwigs, it was so disgusting but we got rid of them and cleaned it all up…only problem now is ever since this they are raiding my home like mad, they are everywhere..please help what do I do….

  11. I just started getting an earwig problem recently. I live in a very wet area of my city (on swamp land actually). I CAN’T STAND EARWIGS! Speaking to a few of my friends who also live in this area I have found that beer in a 1 inch high dish placed infront of the area where the earwigs are getting in helps quite a bit but it does have to be flushed regularly.

  12. My house is bran new and I have Earwigs in it already! I just find them dead in dark spaces between boxes of stuff that I still need to get into place. Then they atract ants that come and eat them, ths is insane, my house is infected with Earwigs and ants! I have a garden but it’s at the back end of my lot a good 3 yards from my house so how would they get from my garden to my house! Where I find them there is no food and water around for at least two rooms and there is no way that they could have came with me in the boxes because I lived in a condo before and have never seen one up till I moved. My newspaper is always in a plastic bag so they can’t come from there, the only place I think they can come from is the window because some other bugs came thru them before but the rooms that I find them is on the second floor.

    Hi Mark, I notice from your email that you are coming in from Hawaii? If so, Hawaii as a tropical area has its own challenges with bugs. A friend of mine in Maui told me that the only thing that worked on the ant problem he had was Grant’s Ants. Pic Liquid Bait Ant Killer is also pretty effective. Don’t know what to tell you about the earwigs, if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, that might be an issue. ~Elise

  13. I have tried Borac Acid, the dish detergent, oil,…..everything. They are in my son’s room in the basement. He hasn’t slept in his room in two weeks. I don’t know what else to do! Please help?!?!

  14. ok we live in a basement appartment and our windows are at ground level…. we have hundreds i mean hundreds of earwigs coming in from who knows where and i hte bugs so much…. i stay up all night trying to squish everyone i see but i’m not making it to work anymore cause i’m up all night and sleep all day. i find them in my bed, on my walls, on the roof, everywhere PLEASE HELP!!!! They are ruining my life.

  15. I have recently been finding earwigs in my kitchen and in an upstairs bedroom. I really don’t like bugs but I really don’t like them in the house. I don’t see enough to think I have a nest of them inside and if Boric Acid is harmful to human and pets is there another way to get rid of them in the house. I have 2 cats and a bird and the last thing I need is for one of them to get into the boric acid. Please help.

    You might try diatomaceous earth. I’m trying out some right now for a silverfish problem. The brand I have is “Safer”. Pet safe. ~Elise

  16. I’m in Atlantic Canada where earwigs are plentyful. I found out that they run in cycles and this year is the year they are plentyful. Great! They are everywhere. I was cleaning out the outside building when I seen some. I took everything out and realized it was full. Thousands of them. I took a hose with a bottle that attaches to the hose and filled the bottle with 1-2 tablespoon of Sunlight liquid dish washing soap and water. I sprayed out the building and the earwigs died with in seconds. I repeatd the process the next day. I think I got them all or at least most. I would suggest to spray around your house with this solution many times during the summer. You can also fill a spray bottle and spray them as you see them in the house. IT WORKS! there is something in the Sunlight soap that kills them….and its cheap and harmless to all. Bonus. Good luck all

  17. July 27 2010

    NO LIGHTS in the house after dark.

    Earwigs are nocturnal and are similar to moths;
    They are attracted to lights. No lights, no
    I had a major problem in my house. Researched
    on the internet, discovered why they were
    coming into my house (attracted to lights), now
    I do not have any lights after dark, and no
    Realize that this solution may not be for all
    family households, but if you can change your
    lifestyle to accommodate no lights, it is the
    I will experiment with candles, and see how
    that works. You may also try blacking out your
    windows, but you must also block ALL sources of
    light to the outside (cracks around doors, etc).
    I am not too optimistic about this, though,
    and prefer to leave lights out completely.
    Hope that this helps.

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