What are Earwigs

Earwigs are dark brown, small, long and skinny insects, generally 12-24mm long. They are easily identified by the pointy set of pincers at the end of their abdomen which are used in defence against predators and male-male competition.  Earwigs have three pairs of light yellowy-brown legs attached to their middle section. Attached to the medium brown head are two long and straight, forward pointing and segmented antenna. They also have wings, however are mostly flightless.


In May, females lay a nest of up to 80 whitish-yellow eggs underneath organic material or in the soil. Eggs hatch into young which are similar to adults, only smaller, lighter in colour and with wing buds (undeveloped wings). Females stay with the nest until young become slightly more developed. There are generally one to two generations per year.

Earwigs are most abundant in mid to late Spring and in warmer environments. Earwigs can form into large groups and may become a burden as they venture into homes. It’s important to control developing infestations early-on to prevent populations from getting out of control. 


Earwigs feed on a wide range of living and dead, plants and small animals, such as aphids, spiders and caterpillars.

Earwigs can generally be seen feeding at night, however, during the day can be found hiding in plant material, underneath debris or just under the soil surface. 

Natural enemies

Natural enemies of Earwigs are birds, lizards and other insect eating animals. 


Best Treatment for Earwigs

For the control of Earwigs on fruit tree, indoor plants, citrus, vegetables including tomatoes, brassicas (eg. cabbage, broccoli, brussell sprouts), cucurbits (eg cucumber, pumpkin) and leafy vegetables, try Yates Nature's Way Organic Citrus, Vegie Ornamental Spray Ready to Use.

Spray Yates Nature's Way Organic Citrus, Vegie Ornamental Spray Ready to Use directly on to earwigs when pests are active on the plant.

Earwigs are most active at night so try spraying in the early hours of the morning or late afternoon.

Repeat spray weekly until Earwig population has been adequately controlled.

Regularly monitor plants for early signs and symptoms of Earwigs and control at the earliest sign of infestation.


Symptoms of Earwig damage

  • Holes in seedling leaves or in worse cases, tops of seedlings completely removed.
  • Shredded or jagged edges of leaves and flowers.
  • Irregular holes in leaves and flowers.
  • Small jagged chewed holes in fruit.
  • Earwigs are most attracted to soft new foliage growth and soft skinned fruits.


What plants are impacted by Earwigs

Parts of the plant impacted:

  • Seedlings
  • Flowers
  • Fruits, especially ripe fruit
  • Roots

Plants impacted:

  • Ornamental (non-edible) plants
  • Wide range of edible plants such as:
    • Corn, Cauliflower, Cucumber, Tomato, Beans and Peas
    • Beetroot, Potato
    • Cabbage, Celery, Silverbeet, Lettuce, Rhubarb
    • Apples, Cherries, Grapevines 

How to prevent Earwigs appearing

  • Monitor plants regularly to detect early stage of infestation.
  • Control Earwig infestations early-on to prevent populations from getting out of control.
  • Be consistent with a spraying program to improve adequate control and reduce the likelihood of reinfestation.
  • Once crops have finished, turn over the soil and leave exposed for birds, lizards and skinks to feed on eggs and juveniles.
  • Seal gaps around the house to reduce possible entrance sights for Earwigs and other home pests from entering the home.
  • Remove debris around the garden, such as piles of timber and rocks, to reduce potential hiding and congregating sites.
  • Check store bought plants and landscaping supplies for pests and diseases prior to bringing stock home, this will reduce the likelihood of new infestations and infections being brought into the garden.

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