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You may have heard the old wives’ tale that earwigs burrow into people’s brains through their ears, hence, the reason they are called “earwigs.”
The good news is that, like many old wives’ tales, it is simply not true.
Earwigs are not harmful to humans in this way. They have no venom or poison and cannot sting or bite you.
They can, however, become a problem in your home or garden. Does diatomaceous earth kill earwigs?
This is a question many gardeners and homeowners have.
If it does, should you want to kill earwigs? Are they helpful insects or pests in your garden?
Whether earwigs are your friend or foe in a vegetable garden is debatable.
If you study entomology (the study of insects) you might find that earwigs have a few redeeming qualities when it comes to living in your garden.
If that’s the case, do you really want to kill them?
You might answer, “Yes,” once you learn that earwigs will also chew your flowers and vegetables to bits.
Gardening without abrasive chemicals is all about finding a balance between the “good” insects and “bad” ones that visit your plants.
Earwig infestations sometimes appear to occur overnight.
One day you might see one or two earwigs near your corn or pepper plants. The next time you stroll through your garden, you see 10 times as many.
What is attracting earwigs to your garden?
Before you figure out if diatomaceous earth kills earwigs and whether or not you want to use it, it’s best to learn more about how earwig infestations occur in the first place.
Earwigs like cool, moist places.
If you lay mulch or compost in your garden or your plants are being overrun with weeds, it can become a perfect habitat for earwigs.
These insects are also attracted to light and may come into your home, especially if outdoor temperatures are too hot.
Perhaps, you’ve recently installed a light scape display along a walkway or mulch bed in your front yard.
At night, the lights look beautiful. The lights might also attract earwigs and other bugs, which can then find their way into your house.
Are earwigs good or bad in your garden?
Earwigs are nocturnal, which means that they come out while you sleep to hunt for food.
Insects feast on many things in your garden. It can benefit a garden if bugs arrive at night and eat aphids, mites, insect larvae or nematodes.
Gardeners who have experienced frustration from losing crops because of an aphid infestation might welcome earwigs.
People often use integrated pest management systems, allowing natural consequences.
Such practices work by attracting beneficial insects to prey upon pests that damage crops. Infestations may cause substantial plant loss, though.
Earwigs feasting on garden pests is definitely a good thing.
However, if you’re in your garden and notice ragged edges and irregular holes in the leaves of your plants, you might not be so big an earwig fan after all.
Such signs are often evidence that earwigs are munching your plants.
When you have invested money into planting, then lose a harvest to pests, it is understandable you would want to prevent the same thing from happening again.
Does diatomaceous earth kill earwigs?
Diatomaceous earth is a powdery substance made from diatom fossil remains.
It is a silica-rich material used to kill household or garden pests.
Diatomaceous earth is often chosen as a safer option than chemical pesticides, and it does kill earwigs.
When you sprinkle diatomaceous earth near plants where there is earwig activity, the insects will ingest it.
This causes tears in their exoskeletons, which ultimately leads to dehydration and death.
To get the most benefit out of using diatomaceous earth, you’ll want to apply it when plants are dry.
If it gets wet, it loses effectiveness.
Another possible downside to using diatomaceous earth to kill garden insects is that it will not only kill the “bad” pests you’re trying to get rid of, it will kill the “good” ones as well.
Is diatomaceous earth dangerous to human health?
Food-grade diatomaceous earth is low in crystalline silica and is considered safe for human.
In fact, in recent years, many people have started using diatomaceous earth as a health supplement.
Another benefit of food-grade diatomaceous earth is that it will not harm your pets.
Filter-grade diatomaceous earth is high in silica and is toxic to human health.
It has many industrial uses, such as water filtration, but it also has upwards of 60% crystalline silica in it, which makes it dangerous to human health.
Natural means for deterring earwigs
Your garden is not the only location where you may do battle with earwigs.
They can become even more of a pest if they set up shop inside your home.
Many homeowners and gardeners today are especially mindful to avoid harsh chemicals and potentially toxic products in order to protect the health of their families.
The following list includes several options available that you might want to try if your goal is to get rid of an increasing earwig population in or around your home:
- You can roll up damp newspapers and leave them around your house or garden. Think of these contraptions as ear wig hotels.
- You can also save empty tuna cans to fill with vegetable oil and place near locations where you’ve seen earwig activity. They will crawl in and die.
- Food-grade diatomaceous earth is an inexpensive and effective way to rid your garden or home of earwigs.
- In your garden, you may want to attract insect predators that will feast on earwigs, such as chickens or lizards.
You might even consider using a combination of one or more of these ideas.
For instance, you can trap earwigs in damp, rolled-up newspapers, then dump the insects from the newspapers in front of your chickens.
Avoid these things when applying diatomaceous earth
Even when a product is safe for humans to use or consume, there are often precautions that can help you maximize the benefits of its use.
Keep the issues included in the following list in mind as things to avoid if you plan to use diatomaceous earth to get rid of earwigs or other pests:
- Do not leave high piles of diatomaceous earth around your plants or in your home. Earwigs and other insects will just go around to avoid the pile.
- If you plan to use diatomaceous earth in your home or near garden plants, avoid using industrial strength products.
- Also avoid sprinkling or spraying diatomaceous earth with wearing a mask to cover your nose and mouth.
There is a plethora of information available online regarding potential benefits and risks of using diatomaceous earth to kill earwigs and other garden or household pests.
The more research you do ahead of time, the better-informed decisions you can make as to what type of insect infestation remedy might be the most viable option to fit your immediate needs and ultimate goals in your home and garden.