Earwigs might look quite fearsome, with their oversized rear-end pincers, but they’re no threat to humans. Mainly they use the pincers for putting away their wings and for protecting themselves.  And, contrary to what I was told when I was little, they won’t crawl into your ears and take up residence in your brain if you fall asleep in the garden:)

Earwig on apple leaf
Earwig on apple leaf

However, earwigs do evoke strong emotions for many gardeners. They are inquisitive and catholic omnivores, and they often seem to develop a taste for favourite flowers and fruits. Generally, they won’t do much harm, but they will chew raggedy holes and can eat out the petals from unopened buds. Sometimes a population explosion can mean that they cause more harm then usual.

But by and large, in the average garden, they are likely to be doing more good than harm. As well as eating things you’d rather they left alone, they also eat lots of aphids and slug and snail eggs. They also help with nutrient recycling by eating up decaying organic matter. In many ways, they’re the natural janitors in the garden.

If you do have a problem with earwigs (and you’re sure it is earwigs and not some other nocturnal muncher) the best cure is probably chickens – they’ll happily hunt them out and gobble them up. Encouraging natural predators to your garden, like toads and hedgehogs, will help too. But if you want to be more proactive, the easiest way to catch earwigs is to create nice damp hiding places for them – with plant pots or saucers, logs or bits of wood. Leave these in place for a couple of days around the edges of your garden and the earwigs will move in. You can then collect them up and dispose of them.


One thought on “Earwigs”

  1. There was a whole nation of them once in a transparent hose I had left outside and it was frightening, I must say, as I was also told they’d look for my ears next… Thanks for correcting me on that 🙂 I didn’t kill them, though… just shook them out of the hose into the garden.

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