Why are there so many earwigs this year, and how can I control them?

Asked September 4, 2014, 1:56 PM EDT

Why are there so many earwigs this year and how harmful are they? How can I control them?

St. Louis County Minnesota earwigs

1 Response

Thank you for the question. I'm not sure why you are experiencing a higher population of earwigs this year. Perhaps your summer has been wetter than usual? Earwigs require moist, cool places and are found in damp crawl spaces, in flower gardens near the home, in mulches, compost piles, trash, under boards and wood piles. They are active at night. They aren't considered harmful to people or animals, although if they are picked up or restrained, they can deliver a slight pinch with their back forceps. They are considered beneficial insects in the garden, eating eggs, larvae, or other insects but they also can eat flower petals, buds, or soft green leaves. An easy way to control them without harming bees or other beneficials is to trap them and drop them into boiling or soapy water. Here is a description on how to do this from Ohio State University:

Copyright © 2010, The Ohio State University

Trapping: Earwigs can be encouraged to cluster in trappingsites. Place burlap bags, canvass, boards, newspapers,or other cover material on top of mulch, around shrubbery, and on top of or around similar habitats. Earwigs will hide under these sheltered areas, where they can be collected early in the morning. Shake specimens into hot, boiling water or into a pan of soapy water. Indoors, remove with broom and dustpan or by vacuum sweeper, but be sure to dispose of the vacuum sweeper bag to avoid having the earwigs crawl back out.

Here is the full link to read more about it: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/pdf/2068.pdf