Despite being relatively harmless, earwigs aka pincher bug (forficula auricularia) are unwelcome guests in your home. They can kill off houseplants and are a general nuisance.
If you are trying to steer clear of chemical pest control insecticides, you may want to consider natural compounds to kill off an earwig infestation.
There are alternatives to pesticides on the market like diatomaceous earth, which is a natural mineral compound.
Does diatomaceous earth kill earwigs? The short answer is yes but read on to determine if this pesticide alternative is best for your pest management.
What Are Earwigs?
Earwigs were once believed to crawl into your head through your ears and infest your brain, but this myth developed from ancient folklore. Also known as pincher bugs, earwigs look intimidating with forceps, or pincers, at the front of their bodies.
However, these are more commonly used for mating than for pinching people.
Earwigs are a small, brown insect that ranges from five to 50 mm in size. Despite having wings, earwigs are unable to fly. Those that sometimes use their wings accomplish large leaps rather than significant flight.
Earwigs prefer warm, humid climates as well as dark, damp spaces. They are drawn to moist, wooded areas like garden mulch, leaf litter, decaying plant material, woodpiles, or leaves, making them a common garden pest.
They will also get into the trash. Be sure to properly discard your food and scrap trash to prevent an earwig infestation.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a mineral-based pesticide that is made from fossilized water plants called diatoms.
This prehistoric algae-like compound is mined and ground up into a powder and has many useful purposes. As a pesticide, DE is composed of magnesium, sodium, iron, calcium, silicon, and other trace minerals.
There are different types of diatomaceous earth on the market today. When using it in your garden, be sure to look for food-grade quality. Lower-grade qualities are used in swimming pool filters.
Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Earwigs?
The short answer is yes. DE is used as an insecticide and effectively kills many different types of insects, including aphids, ants, mites, cockroaches, and earwigs.
The microscopic sharp edges of DE cut through the earwig’s protective covering, drying them out.
The main reason why DE is popular as an insecticide is because it is a natural compound that insects, including earwigs, cannot build a tolerance for. At the same time, earwigs may be able to build a resistance up to certain chemical pesticides.
The greatest drawback to diatomaceous earth as a pesticide is that it is slow acting. This compound may take a few days to kill off an earwig infestation instead of the more instant solution that other insecticides offer.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth
Most diatomaceous earth insecticides you buy will come with instructions on how to use them.
However, it is important to always wear a mask when applying DE to an infested site and to keep children and pets away until you are finished.
Even when you purchase “food grade” diatomaceous earth, particles and dust can still irritate the mucous membranes in your mouth and nose.
If you are applying diatomaceous earth outside, be sure to avoid rainy weather. If you lay your DE down before a rainstorm, you will have to reapply it afterward.
If you wait until right after it rains, the DE will stick better to the ground helping kill off an earwig infestation quicker.
Alternatives to Diatomaceous Earth
Perhaps you are looking for a quicker solution to control earwigs. Maybe you don’t have easy access to diatomaceous earth. Here are some other methods to get rid of earwigs.
Boric Acid Powder
You can find boric acid powder at most home hardware stores. This insecticide absorbs into earwigs and poisons their stomach and metabolism killing them.
Oil and Soy Sauce
Set up an oil and soy sauce trap for a natural way to get rid of earwigs. They are attracted to the smell of the soy sauce but will drown when they crawl into the dish.
Rubbing Alcohol and Water
Like diatomaceous earth, rubbing alcohol breaks down an earwig’s protective coating causing it to dry up and die – mix rubbing alcohol and water into a spray bottle and thoroughly coat infested areas.
The Bottom Line
Earwigs are an annoying pest drawn in by the smell of greasy leftovers or sweet-smelling plants.
While they do not pose an extreme threat, they can get into small dark corners of your home and yard or attack your house plants and garden.
Does diatomaceous earth kill earwigs? Yes, but you should be careful when using it and keep it out of reach of children.
Despite being a food-grade compound, DE can irritate your nose and mouth if not used properly.