Despite its name, an earwig is not a toupee for people with unsightly ears. Rather, it gets the name from the belief they tunnel in through the ear canal and into the brain. It has what appears to be a double-sided body, with large pincers on one end that look as sinister as a bear trap. While not the best-looking pest to be found in the garden (or an ear), thankfully they remain largely hidden under bricks or pots and will only come out under the cover of darkness.

While there are a number of earwig varieties that roam the garden, few do any damage in the veggie patch. They prefer to snack on other insects or dead and decaying plant matter, and it is only the introduced European earwig that sometimes turns its attention on your young seedlings.

An earwig is usually more of a friend than a foe, helping control aphid numbers among others.

Optimal Conditions

Wet, cooler conditions, when there is a lot of dead or decomposing materials for them to feast on


Irregular holes and jagged edges on the edge of leafy green foliage, in particular that of lettuce and flowers


Keep your garden hygienic as the main food for earwigs is dead or decomposing plant matter.


Damage is usually minimal and semi-mature plants will have enough foliage that they won’t make much of an impact. If you notice damage on your younger seedlings, collars around them will offer protection.


You can make pit traps using olive or vegetable oil and soy sauce. Use a plastic container and add equal parts of the two ingredients, securing a lid that has been punched with holes – roughly 5–10 mm - in diameter. Bury the container in the soil near where you’ve noticed damage, leaving the lid at ground level. The soy sauce attracts the earwigs, and the oil prevents them from escaping.

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