Updated: June 10, 2023

Earwigs are common garden pests that can damage plants. They are known for their pincers, which they use for defense and to catch prey. Earwigs feed on a variety of plants, including vegetables, fruits, flowers, and ornamental plants. In this article, we will discuss the damage caused by earwigs and how to prevent it.

Damage Caused by Earwigs

Earwigs cause damage to plants by feeding on leaves, flowers, and fruits. They can also bore into stems and roots, causing further damage. Earwigs are most active at night and prefer to hide in dark, moist places during the day.

Some of the signs of earwig damage include:

  • Irregular holes in leaves and petals
  • Chewed-on edges of leaves
  • Damaged fruit with irregular holes or gouges
  • Stunted growth or wilting of plants

Earwig damage can be mistaken for damage caused by other pests or environmental factors. However, if you notice earwigs in your garden, it is likely that they are the cause of the damage.

How to Prevent Earwig Damage

There are several ways to prevent earwig damage to your plants:

1. Remove hiding places

Earwigs like to hide in dark, moist places during the day. Removing these hiding places can reduce their numbers. Some examples of hiding places include:

  • Piles of leaves or debris
  • Weedy areas
  • Underneath rocks or boards

By removing these hiding places, you make your garden less attractive to earwigs.

2. Use physical barriers

Physical barriers can prevent earwigs from reaching your plants. Some examples of physical barriers include:

  • Collars made from cardboard or plastic around the base of plants
  • Sticky traps placed around plants
  • Copper bands around the base of plants

These barriers can be effective in preventing earwigs from reaching your plants.

3. Use insecticides

Insecticides can be used to control earwig populations. However, it is important to use them carefully and according to the instructions on the label. Some examples of insecticides that are effective against earwigs include:

  • Pyrethrin-based insecticides
  • Neem oil
  • Spinosad

It is important to remember that insecticides can harm beneficial insects as well as pests. Use them sparingly and only as a last resort.


Q: Are earwigs harmful to humans?

A: Earwigs are not harmful to humans. They do not bite or sting, and their pincers are not strong enough to cause injury.

Q: Do earwigs fly?

A: No, earwigs do not fly. They have wings, but they are not strong enough for flight.

Q: How do I know if I have an earwig infestation?

A: Look for the signs of earwig damage mentioned earlier in this article. You may also see earwigs crawling around your garden or hiding in dark, moist places during the day.

Q: Can I use diatomaceous earth to control earwigs?

A: Yes, diatomaceous earth can be effective against earwigs. It works by dehydrating their exoskeletons. However, it is important to use food-grade diatomaceous earth and to follow the instructions on the label.

Q: What plants are most susceptible to earwig damage?

A: Earwigs feed on a variety of plants, but some plants are more susceptible than others. Vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, and broccoli are commonly attacked by earwigs. Flowers such as marigolds, dahlias, and zinnias are also susceptible.


Earwigs can be a nuisance in the garden, but with proper prevention and control measures, their damage can be minimized. By removing hiding places, using physical barriers, and using insecticides sparingly, you can keep earwig populations under control and protect your plants from damage.