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Connecticut Garden Journal: The upside of earwigs in your garden

stock image of an Earwig on bull thistle at night
Dave Brenner
Getty Images
Earwigs can climb up your flowers or veggies and feed on the foliage, but they're also likely to eat insects and dead plants.

When I say earwigs, some people still think of the old, folkloric myth that earwigs can crawl into your ear and eat your brains. Although they like dark, moist places, sorry, they aren't that aggressive or interested in us. Earwigs are beneficial to the garden and are more complex than you think.

Earwigs look more formidable than they are. They can climb up your flowers or veggies and feed on the foliage, but they're also likely to eat insects, dead plants and table scraps, too. The pincers look daunting, but they're mostly used as defense against attacks from other insects.

Earwigs fill a great role in the garden as a predator of aphids and other small insects. They eat live and dead plant materials, too. Earwigs love dark, damp places and often are found under boards, branches and logs. They feed at night, so you may not see them. If you suspect earwigs are eating your plants, simply roll up a few sheets of a newspaper, add a little oil in the middle and sprinkle some water on it. Then place the newspaper under plants or in a shady spot in the garden. In the morning, open up the paper and see if the earwigs decided to spend the night inside. Simply dump out the earwigs in another location away from your plants.

Earwigs can fly and are social insects. They lay eggs and keep them warm until they hatch like birds. They will feed and foster their brood until the youngsters have molted a few times and are ready to face the world by themselves.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.