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Earwigs: Garden Foe or Friend?

Updated on April 27, 2017

Friend or Foe?

If you are going to have a garden, a garden that is safe for kids, pets and friends to romp, roam and run, then you are going to have to learn to appreciate insects.

Yes, insects, bugs, the crawly, all too fast creatures, that surprise you, all too often, during the summer months.

You do not have to love them nor even like them but you had better learn to appreciate the work they do for you in the garden. There are bugs that eat the bugs that want to eat your plants; naturally, as little is perfect some of those bugs that eat the bugs that eat your plants, also like to nibble on your greens.

Nature will keep itself in check unless there is a food surplus or a food shortage and then changes take palce. Your job as a gardener is to manage your garden so it remains in balance or as close to being in balance as it is possible to get. You do have allies in this work.

In the gardening world, ugly is not necessarily a bad sign, at least not when it comes to insects.


Take the earwig. It is a pretty nasty looking creature but it does more good than harm, in the garden that is.

You really do not want to share the inside of your house with earwigs, ants or spiders to name a few garden friends,

The earwig is widely disliked but that is where we go wrong. They will bite but only when they are threatened.

Earwigs, like many bugs, really prefer to remain outside that is where food and shelter is readily found. However, they do make it indoors, usually hitching a ride on humans, clothing, vegetables, newspapers, etc.

The earwigs is a reddish-brown and is about 4/5 of an inch (2 cm) long with antennae and a noticeable set of pincers which protrude from the abdomen.

The male of the species have curved pinchers while the females are straight; should you every find a need to identify the gender of a particular earwig.

They can fly but would rather walk and the night is theirs.

The pincers of the male are curved whereas those of the female are straight. The female uses her pincers to protect her and eggs from other insects, but they cannot harm humans. They can give you a bite though. Earwigs have wings but they are rarely used to fly.

Earwigs like the dark and that is when they are out seeking their food or looking for a new home. You will find them in moist and dark places.

They enjoy a diet of decaying plant and animal matter and help clean up.

Earwigs do harm vegetables. They will use existing holes in plants as an entry point so keep an eye on your plants.

If the earwigs can be kept in balance and a good healthy garden will help with that, they will help you; however if they get out of control they are a threat. So to answer the question are earwigs a friend or a foe, the answer is both; it depends upon the garden and the gardener.


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick

    That is a very common feeling towards earwigs.

  • Granny's House profile image

    Granny's House 7 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

    I hate them! They scare me. I keep my canning jars in a bin in the cellar and when I go to get them they are always in there. I don't know how they get in there but they do

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    If there is a food source and shelter then there's home. Thanks for dropping by.

  • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

    Cindy Lawson 8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

    I have loads of these on my allotment, but in general they seem to do little damage so I leave them alone. The allotment is new this year (from former grassland), so there is probably loads of decaying plant matter for them to consume.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    They can be a pest indoors or if out of control outdoors but when in balance they help. Thanks for dropping by.

  • BetsyIckes profile image

    BetsyIckes 8 years ago from Pennsylvania

    I never knew this! I always thought of them as a pest! Goes to show, you learn something new every day! Interesting hub!

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 8 years ago from New Brunswick

    They are hard to like but outside they do important garden work. Thanks for dropping by.

  • RGraf profile image

    Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

    I have never liked these creatures. To be honest, I've never seen them outside, but they become deceased as soon as I see them inside!!!