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How to rid Earwigs?

Posted by hopefulauthor z5IL ( on
Thu, Aug 22, 13 at 10:57


This week, 'not today,' has been beautiful!!!
90's and sunny.

Since Monday, I've been repotting plants that have been in the same containers for a good number of years, starting w/Agaves. Repotting outside.

BTW, I despise creepy-crawlers, for those who do not know me.
But, I was prepared. I brought out the vinegar and a fly swatter.

Anyway, it took muscle removing some plants from pots..

Besides ants, 'yuck' on the bottom of pot, near drainage holes lived numerous earwigs.
They ARE disgusting.

Here's my question.

Is there any organic product that kills earwigs?

Does anyone know of any foods/natural products, etc, earwigs dislike. For instance, a distasteful odor or taste? Or better yet, something that kills those disgusting creatures without harming plants?

Meyer Mike once told me earwigs eat roots. He mentioned, watering his plants. The following morning, around 5am, he entered his gh and found earwigs on top of soil.
Guess those ugly creatures rise from lower soil early in the A.M.

I had no idea we had so many earwigs. When we first moved here, 20+ yrs ago, we'd see earwigs in most dark areas. Basically everywhere. Then, it seemed they disappeared.
Well, 'They're Back!'

Any ideas? Thanks, Toni

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

Man, it's almost like these critters know you're really freaked out and just messin' with you. So sorry, friend!

As you know, stuff like this does not freak me out, and there are earwigs here in general, and I use home-made compost in pots. But this is not one of the critters I've seen in/around pots. So I'm wondering what's different, why they like your pots so much.

This article says they hide during the day in moist, cool spots. At some point during the day, every potted plant I have gets some direct sun, so probably just enough heat to be unpleasant. Do you have pots not getting any direct sun at all? If so, do you see them more in those pots?

Hardly any of my pots are directly on the ground. Maybe that's a factor?

It also says that in the fall, the females lay eggs in the soil. But it doesn't say how long the eggs take to hatch. I would want to prevent the laying of the eggs because the life cycle probably does not get put on hold in a warm house for winter, no hibernation putting everything on hold. When it's time for a drink next, submerge pots in water, above the soil line. Fifteen minutes should be enough to drown or evict any live critters.

It also says, "feed on a variety of dead and living organisms, including insects, mites, and growing shoots of plants. They are voracious feeders on soft-bodied insects such as aphids and insect eggs and can exert significant biological control under some circumstances." So, not something I'd recommend AS pest control, likely to eat the plant after the pests are gone. But it does beg the question, are there aphids on these plants? Any other pests? It doesn't say if earwigs prefer to eat aphids or tender new plant shoots. Since aphids are usually ON tender new shoots, it's probably just like a buffet, it's all goin' down. Is there any point to this paragraph at all? IDK...

You said, "Anyway, it took muscle removing some plants from pots..

Besides ants, 'yuck' on the bottom of pot, near drainage holes lived numerous earwigs."

Does that mean you repotted? If so, I might take them on inside if there's no place off of the ground to put them, IDK...

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

Hi Purple,

Lots of info in the article. Thanks for posting.

LOL, dh said the same thing..Bugs sense I dislike/fear them, so they intentionally come to our house. Messing with me. lol

Some plants w/earwigs are on a picnic table. A few others are on a metal stand, w/metal rings pots are inserted. Several feet from the ground.

Heck, a Sedum in a hanging basket has earwigs.
We found numerous earwigs hiding under the roof of our old bird feeder. They're everywhere!

As far as bugs, I swear they are without house plant insects such as aphids, scale, mites, mealy, etc.

Considering earwigs made homes in some pots, roots are healthy. No damage. Foliage is okay, too, except for a few brown tips from sunburn and since Agaves were completely rootbound, water and rain went through.

I think you're right, Purp. A few years ago, small bees made a home in my Purple Heart pot, nearest drainage holes. I didn't know it. I dumped water in the pot..Next thing I knew, those little bees were everywhere. I got stung and restung. I do not fear bees, but those little guys, 'sorry, don't know their type....we used to call them honey bees,' are mean!

You said, 'hardly any of my plants are directly on the ground.' Do you find insects in the few pots on the ground?
If so, what type of bugs?

You'd think, since you live down south, you'd have bugs galore. lol. Maybe your anoles munch on your pests.

So, earwigs eat some pests...hmm. Too bad they didn't eat ants. lol. But, I'd rather take care of pests instead of earwigs trying to be helpful.
They are ugly. :) I watched one, large wig. They resemble something from another planet.

Purp, if I didn't have so many plants, submerging would be easy..I started fertilizing Monday..It's Thursdays, and I still have a good number to complete.

Now that Agaves and most Aloes are large, they go in the green house..None are on the ground. Temps get pretty chilly during winter months. You'd think the cold would kill every insect known to man.

But, you're right..This year, before plants are brought in the house, I'll have to submerge a few plants at a time.
Where do the bugs go after being in water so long? Do they drown or run in the center of plant? Yuck. As long as they don't jump on me submerging will work.

After I clean the rooms, shelves, windows, etc, plants will be dipped.
Purp, maybe you didn't read my previous posts. Before bringing plants in, they're sprayed with FE, and other home-made pepper, soap, etc.

Last year, around Aug, I placed ant baits on tables w/plants. Also, each plant was watered with vinegar.
It made a huge difference. But, I wasn't thinking earwigs.
Mike mentioned ew's, but it wasn't until I repotted yesterday and found those creatures on bottoms of containers..BTW, so far, Agaves were the only plant with ew's.

Another thing..before plants come in, each are thoroughly hosed. (Soil) Those that are wintered in the house are submerged in the sink. 'Ask, why our sink plugs up. lol'
It takes 2-3 weeks to bring plants inside..

Mike uses Bayer stystemic. Yet, he found earwigs in his plants. That chemical has to be strong.
Too bad they don't have an ant systemic. lol

Anyway, thanks for suggesting submerging. This autumn, besides spraying and hosing, plants will be submerged.

Purp, my eyes are burning..
I was going to start a thread thanking you about combining plants...
So,, thank you. :)
I can't believe how much difference it makes. I still have more to combine.

I was planning on working outside..Cinnamon, citrus and remaining Agaves and Aloes..'Larger'
But, it's raining, or was.
However, I'm going to repot a few Philos...those that go toether will be combined..Thanks much, Toni

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

"Do you find insects in the few pots on the ground?" Always, in moderation, worms, any kind of beetle-type bug that would be in the dirt, spiders... it's outside. But I asked because earwigs can't fly, and I don't think they crawl too far. Doubt they climbed up a table leg to get in pots. So how would they get in so many of your pots? Maybe they climb farther than I think. I've only ever seen them on plants when I try to grow veggies. Thinking about these today, they were much more numerous in OH than what I see here. Really don't know much about them but to know one when I see it, and that they really like to destroy corn.

Yes you would have a lot of pots to submerge if you did them all. Are there earwigs in all of them? Starting to think the eggs are in the potting soil. Where do you keep it? Do you see earwigs in/around the soil before it's put in a pot?

Glad you're having fun with the plants otherwise! Speaking of rain, I hear today's thunder coming closer... no, today won't be a day when I don't have to move plants a 2nd time. Back under the porch roof it is...

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

Purple..I don't know how, but they crawl until they find a dark spot to raise a family.
Like I said above, they lived in our old bird feeder. The pole stood 8'. It was never on the ground. The feeder was made to look like a house.
When I'd lift the house off the pole to clean, earwigs would run around like vampires at sunrise.

Bird seed was/is kept in a plastic container w/lid..enclosed porch.
There's nowhere for them to live on the porch, which is inside the house.
I rarely find earwigs in the house. Every so often they'll appear when they're hidden inside a house plant.

Purp, no ew's weren't in all my pots. Oh Lord, no!
Out of 10 pots, 3 had ew's living underneath.

I also found several living under the arbor holding Trumpet Vine. In dirt. Wonder if they're diggers??

Did they move inside corn? Yuck, gross.

My potting soil is kept in containers w/lids, so no ew's..Believe me, even though my eyesight isn't the best, I'd see those things..I mix soil thoroughly.

Actually, there were more earwigs when we first moved here. For some reason, this summer they're worse than they'd been the last 10-yrs.

Purp, you're lucky you don't fear bugs. lol.

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

It may be that the number of earwigs is dependent on the weather, more cold/hot or wet/dry, or on a new batch of mulch or compost you put down outside, or just about any old thing. They do climb prodigiously, and of bugs they are kind of neat in the bug world that the mom earwig will watch over the nest. On the veggie forum there is lots of mentions of a bait that works for them when they get to be too numerous to bear and start to do more damage than they help. I don't have so many, so I didn't take note of its composition so you would have to look it up. Good luck!

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

Hi Aseed. How have you been?

Thanks for the veggie forum info. I'll have to take a peek.

It's amazing insects make better parents than quite a few humans. Sad to say, but true.

Aseed, since I'm not an insect lover, lol, I don't consider ew's neat. :)
Did you ever see an ew closeup? Yuck.

When we lived in Chicago, we never saw or heard of ew's.
The first time I saw one, I ran fast and far away. Didn't know what the heck it was and wondered if the pinchers stung.
Then there's the old myth about ew's crawling in people's ears while asleep, eating the brain, and driving one berzerk. lol.

Our local newpaper ran an ad about the myth. Saying it's untrue.

Thanks, Toni

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

So, they're not actually in the pots? I might put the pots on some kind of feet, so there's air circulating under them, and light. That would eliminate "dark, moist." You could also look around the yard for more dark, moist areas, find where they are hiding and kill them, then change it so they don't find that environment suitable anymore. You are smarter than earwigs, you will find some ways to control them. To fight an enemy, you have to understand how it operates. Then you can mess it up. Smashing the ones you see would be a good start I think.

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

Most species of earwigs have wings but are weak fliers. The wings are hidden under what looks like a little backpack on their thorax, with the flimsy winged folded like origami underneath.

If you drown them in a glass of soapy water, they will sometimes unfold their wings.

This post was edited by rhizo_1 on Fri, Aug 23, 13 at 13:10

RE: How to rid Earwigs?

Purple, some ew's were inside pots nearest the drain holes. Some were in the soil, and two families lived under two clay pots..

Unfortunately, pots are on tables so no, they don't get much if any sun. I guess, I'll have to start rotating outside, too. Think that'll help?

Purp, there's so many areas earwigs live. The neighbor doesn't prune his bushes, which means darkness.
There's hundreds of earwigs under the bushes.

Besides tables, I set some plants on large, upturned containers. Those brats somehow manage to crawl under the pots.

I tossed one wooden table because there was a hole in the center. OMG, EW's galore.

About crunching bugs. lol. When I see bugs in the house, I kill them with a fly swatter.. I have three swatters. lol
Ever try killing an ew? They're fighters. To think about squishing them w/my shoe, yuck, yuck..what if it crawled on my foot/leg?????

I have killed ew's by drowning. I got a 'long' stick, then lured them in the pot of soapy water.

Rhizo. You know, when I drowned ew's, I couldn't look, so if they have wings I didn't notice.
But, I believe you w/o looking. :)

Thanks guys. You've been a big help.

Off to the vet..Toni

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