Updated: March 30, 2023

Earwigs, also known as pincher bugs, are a common sight in many gardens and homes. These small insects are known for their distinctive appearance, with their long bodies and pincer-like appendages at the rear. While many people consider earwigs to be pests, they can also provide benefits to gardens by feeding on other insects.

One of the interesting things about earwigs is their attraction to olive oil. This may seem strange, but there are several reasons why earwigs are drawn to this cooking staple.

The Science Behind Earwig Attraction

Earwigs are attracted to olive oil because of its high fat content. Earwigs require a certain amount of fat in their diet to survive, and olive oil provides an excellent source of this nutrient.

In addition to its nutritional value, olive oil also contains compounds that are attractive to earwigs. These compounds include oleic acid and squalene, which have been shown to stimulate feeding behavior in these insects.

How to Use Olive Oil to Attract Earwigs

If you’re a gardener looking to attract earwigs to your garden, using olive oil can be an effective method. Simply place a small dish of olive oil near your plants and leave it overnight. In the morning, you should find several earwigs inside the dish.

It’s important to note that while earwigs can be beneficial to gardens by feeding on other insects, they can also cause damage by eating plant material. Therefore, it’s important to use caution when using any method to attract them.

Other Methods for Controlling Earwigs

If you’re not interested in attracting earwigs to your garden, there are several other methods you can use to control their population:

  • Remove hiding places: Earwigs like to hide in dark, damp areas such as under rocks or in piles of leaves. Removing these hiding places can make your garden less attractive to them.

  • Use sticky traps: Sticky traps can be placed around plants to capture earwigs as they crawl by.

  • Use natural predators: Certain animals, such as birds and toads, feed on earwigs and can help control their population.


Are earwigs harmful to humans?

Earwigs are not harmful to humans. While they may look intimidating with their pincer-like appendages, they are not aggressive and do not pose a threat to people.

Do earwigs bite?

Earwigs are capable of biting, but they rarely do so. Their pincers are primarily used for defense and mating purposes.

Can earwigs damage plants?

Yes, earwigs can cause damage to plants by eating plant material. However, they also feed on other insects that can be harmful to plants, so their impact on gardens can be both positive and negative.

Is olive oil the only substance that attracts earwigs?

No, there are several other substances that can attract earwigs, including vegetable oil, fish oil, and beer.