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Earwigs: How to Get Rid of Pincher Bugs Using Natural Pest Control

By Liz Greene

Ew! Earwig bugs!

When I planted my tomatoes and cucumbers in containers at the end of April, my mother warned me that earwigs would be a problem. I scoffed; even as a first time gardener, I was certain I wouldn’t have any issues with pests if I was doing all my growing in pots.

As usual, mom was right.

Within a week, I noticed holes in the leaves of my cucumber plant. I looked high and low, but there were no signs of insects of any kind. Since there was no damage to the tomato plants, I shrugged it off as an anomaly and continued routine care.

It got worse.

The Problem

My poor cucumber plant was being shredded by an invisible menace. I did a quick google search, and earwigs came up as a possible culprit. Again, I dismissed it. I hadn’t seen a single earwig, so it had to be something else. Had I continued to research the issue, I would have discovered that earwigs are nocturnal1) and seek shelter during the day. It was highly unlikely I’d ever catch them in the act.

However, the problem eventually grew so large that I actually did see an earwig. At that point, there was no denying that those evil little pincher bugs were the ones destroying my cucumber plant. Unfortunately, I was facing a bit of a dilemma.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs

I’m not a big fan of pesticides for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t like taking the chance that I’ll kill beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs.2)Beneficial Bugs for the Garden Two, I have a pair of nosey dogs who love to stick their heads directly into the plants in the containers. I will never, ever use a product that might poison them.

I considered diatomaceous earth3)Get Rid of Ants Naturally, but it still had me worried for the bees and whatnot. After another Google search, I found a number of people advocating oil traps. I was dubious as to how effective these traps could possibly be, but I was desperate.

Many tutorials for the traps called for lids, holes punched into containers, and fancy soy sauce/molasses/oil combinations. I was between grocery store runs and the only thing I had available was a couple of small Gladware containers and some vegetable oil. I figured they’d have to do for the time being.

I filled each container a quarter of the way with vegetable oil, dug some shallow holes in the soil, and placed the traps in both the cucumber and tomato planters. Then, I waited.

The Result

When I woke up the next morning, I rushed outside to check the traps. They were empty. I was incredibly disappointed. I decided I’d just have to grab some diatomaceous earth the next time I hit up the garden store, and went inside.

When I went to water the plants the following morning, I noticed that I had forgotten to remove the traps from the containers. When I bent over to grab the one underneath the cucumber plant. I noticed that the oil was dark. Had it gone bad in the heat?

Nope. It was full of earwigs. I counted them as I emptied the trap — there were 82 in total! I refilled the trap, and caught another 47 by the next day. It’s been three weeks now, and I’ve killed 269 earwigs between my two planters. The traps have far fewer earwigs in them these days, usually only two to four, but that’s a sign that I’ve significantly lowered their population.

I still can’t believe that such a cheap, simple, and safe solution exists to get rid of this garden menace. If you find yourself in the midst of an earwig infestation, I hope this article will help you win the battle.

Editor’s Note: Now… if you want to see other examples, here’s a video rendition if you like visuals. The video is shaky as Marc Lane tries to juggle filming walking, talking and using his hands, but it give you a good idea.

Also, I cringed in the first section when he’s using expensive olive oil, but on the next round he got some cheaper vegetable oil. You can also just use disposable plastic containers with holes punched in the lids as Liz did.

A Gardens All Facebook fan wanted to know how they get killed by the oil, and well… it seems they’re drawn to it for some reason and then they drown.

You can also see another example with no lid used, as well as other natural remedies in this article on eHow and the University of California Ag service.4)

Also… from the Gardens All Facebook conversation on this thread, several others have had success with oil and Nathaniel says beer works! 🙂

Good luck out there, friends. Happy gardening!

NSqhXyiy_400x400Liz Greene is an animal loving, history studying, plant growing wild woman from the beautiful City of Trees, Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene6) and catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.7)

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