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Earwigs- Friend or Foe?

Earwigs are well known in Ireland, many a child has been told the old wives tale of them crawling into your ear to burrow down and  lay eggs there. 

The name is actually thought to have come from the shape of their hind wing that when unfurled slightly resembles the human ear. 

No doubt due to this creepy crawly tale the poor Earwigs have gotten a pretty bad rap. They are actually very beneficial to a garden provided you have not got an extreme infestation.


They are nocturnal insects so they generally will only emerge and be active at  night. If you spot them during the day it is most likely because you have disturbed their day time napping area. 

They are omnivores so they will usually feed on decaying plant matter and other small insects such as, Aphids, Spider Mites, Caterpillars and White fly. This means that, given a reasonable number of them, they are a big help with pest control in the garden.

Should their numbers get out of control and their usual food source not be in great supply they have been known to eat young flower buds and do some damage to softer leaves. This will usually happen if there has been a lot of dry weather (no worry about that here!), and their preferred food source is lacking. 

If you do have too many of them and they are doing a lot of damage there are a number of measures you can take.

Firstly, confirm that it is indeed Earwigs that are the culprit. You can do this by shining a torch around your garden at night and catching them in the act. If it is Earwigs it'll be very obvious, at night they are not shy about marching around in numbers. 

If they are doing a lot of damage you can set up eco friendly traps for them very easily. 

Rolled up damp newspapers are an Earwig's idea of five star accommodation! Place a few of these around your borders and under your hedges and you will be sure to attract a lot of them after a few days. You can then simply gather them up and put them in your compost bin, they will happily stay there chomping on all the dead plant matter. 

If you are determined to take a more fatal approach you can also make a very effective oil trap. To do this, get an old plastic yogurt pot with a lid and poke a small hole in the top of it, then pour a little vegetable oil in the bottom along with some sardine oil or other fishy smelling grease (bacon works too). Bury this so that the top is flush with the ground. The Earwigs can't resist the smell and will drop down into the oil to their deaths. Generally this is a very successful method so you will need to empty the traps once every one or two weeks and refresh. 

Should these methods not work and should your Earwigs really be making a nuisance of themselves you can then use the likes of Resolva Bug Killer 1lt but be aware that if you do use this you will also be killing other beneficial insects also. 

So Earwigs aren't all so bad, I know I could put up with more of them and less of the Greenfly to be sure!