Also known as pincher bugs, earwigs are weird-looking insects that are mostly active at night. They can find their way into any home searching for food, moisture, and shelter.
They are usually reddish-brown or brown with dark markings, an elongated and slender structure with forceps (better known as pinchers), which extend backward from their abdomens.
The adult female earwig lays about 25 to 30 eggs before the first frost when it hibernates with the male earwig. Their hibernation lasts until spring when the male leaves the nest to meet up with other males of its species for them to go on a feeding spree on insects and plants.
Earwigs eat decaying sprouts and other vegetation, although some prey on smaller insects and arthropods.
Some species of earwigs eat the average plant, especially seedlings, which we could describe as the best earwig snack.
Earwigs have a reputation for utterly destroying crops and garden plants, and that is why you are probably reading this right now.
This article will walk you through helpful tips on how to eliminate earwigs. Enjoy!
So where can you find earwigs?
When they are not having a field day at night, earwigs love to live in cool, damp, and remote areas outside your home. If they can’t find a place with such atmospheric conditions, they will find their way into your home.
Here are some of the places earwigs love to hide around:
- Underneath leaves and yard debris
- In mulch and soil
- In a hole in trees
- In basements
- In bathrooms
- In kitchens
- Around laundry areas
- On patios and porches
- Around the building’s foundation
- Around outdoor
- Around air-conditioning units
Types of Earwigs
There are over 2000 species of earwigs in 12 families, but since this is not a dissertation on earwigs, we will stick to a few of the more popular species out there.
This species of earwig is native to Europe, Northern Africa, and Eastern Asia. European earwigs have two antennae with 14-15 segments which house several vital sensory organs. Although they have developed wings, they rarely fly.
Most live up to a year, and their nymphs go through four stages during which they do not leave their nest until their first molt.
The brown bands identify this species of earwigs on their yellow legs. They also have a body that is dark-colored on the upper side and yellowish-brown on the underside. They are also known to infest homes and other places in large groups.
Striped earwigs get their names from two dark, longitudinal stripes that run along the length of their bodies. They are identified by a light tan color and modified forceps. The male species have two interchangeable penises.
Unlike the other earwigs, striped earwigs do not eat outdoor vegetation like flowers a lot, and they are also not known for invading homes in abundance. You’d only find them in your home when the season has been dry for too long.
As their name suggests, maritime earwigs live around oceans, so you’d probably not have any issues with this species of earwigs, except you live around there. Interestingly they can’t swim, and so they steer clear of the water as much as possible. They only visit the coastline in searches of food like insects, freshly laid insect eggs, and any dead arthropods that are washed ashore.
Maritime earwigs are built to bear cold temperatures that other insects cannot.
The toothed earwig is found in the dry habitats in the southwestern states of the U.S. Another species of earwig is the little earwig that was brought in from Europe.
Then there are the less common species of earwigs that live on their host. They are known as ectoparasites.
Two of the more common ectoparasites include the Arixenia that give birth to their young live and feed on the Indian bat.
The other known ectoparasite is the Hemimerus, a blind earwig that feeds on the giant rat.
Are Earwigs Harmful To Humans?
Going by their name (earwig) and fearsome pincers, it is easy to understand why most folks believe that these bugs might be harmful to them.
Interestingly, nothing could be farther from the truth.
As frightening as they may seem, primarily used for defense against other males during the mating season. They do not contain any venom, and earwigs do not sting, so you are safe around an earwig.
And there is zero chance of an earwig creeping into your ear to lay eggs. Not unless you are in a horror flick!
That said, there are cases when earwigs have been known to bite in self-defense. You can tell if an earwig has bitten you if you discover two small red marks around a slightly swollen site.
Another time you might get into some problem with earwigs is if they pinch any part of your body using their pincers. You might experience a little break in the skin that could easily be treated using an antibiotic cream or lotion to prevent infection.
Earwigs are not known to be a vector of any disease, but you can expect to get a foul they emit as a form of defense. By and large, earwigs are not considered directly harmful to humans as there have not been any reported cases of humans needing emergency treatment after having encounters with earwigs.
Earwigs can be indirectly harmful to humans when they infest young food or cash crops, thus stunting their growth.
That said, you can kill this pest easily if you quickly recognize the signs of an earwig infestation.
Why Is My House Infested With Earwigs?
So far, we have established that earwigs prefer dark and moist places. That’s why their favorite haunts are flower pots, rock, woodpiles, mulch, leaf litter, leaky garden faucets, and crawl spaces under the foundation of houses.
So why is your home infested with this particular pest?
These bugs rarely infest homes except for the weather outside has been dry for so long that they can’t find any moisture out there. They would gravitate to your home in search of the water, what to eat, shelter, and moisture that they can’t find outside.
Damp basements with much clutter and leaves that got there accidentally provide an abundance of moisture and cover for earwigs. If you have wet basement walls, then you will be having hospitable conditions for earwigs.
On the flip side, earwigs seek protection from icy conditions, so they might also be seeking warmth when they invade your home. Then there is the fact that earwigs will be drawn to your homes by the bright lights that you might have on.
So your house is probably infested with earwigs because it provides sufficient cover and food source.
So How Do Earwigs Get Into Your Home
Your home is not a natural habitat for earwigs, but in those cases where you have an infestation, it is because you let them in inadvertently.
Earwigs can get into your home via cracks, gaps, and holes in your home. Earwigs are also known to get into your home via your newspapers bundles, boxes, lumber, books, and plants that you move into your home from an outdoor location.
Once earwigs find their way into your home and they find the conditions favorable, like all pests they multiply, and in no time, you’d have yourself a full-blown earwig infestation.
Signs of Earwig Infestation
Earwigs are pests that often come out at night to look for cool and damp environments to inhabit.
So in most cases, these pests can go unnoticed, especially as they don’t harm humans. You also have to note that different species of these bugs have different ways of infesting locations. That said since they live and eat outdoors, there are a few telltale signs that should help let you know if you have some of these pests around.
Here they are:
- Foul smells
- Night lights
- Dead plants and leaves
- Leaf Damage
- Flood Damage
How Do You Get Rid Of Earwigs In Your Garden?
There are bound to be lots of ear-wig-friendly spots in your garden, so it is only natural that you might find some there. An infestation can lead to severe damage to plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Not to mention the foul smells and the mess that they leave in your garden.
Getting rid of earwigs is the next best thing to do once you have detected their presence in your garden. So how do you go about it?
There are two main methods:
natural and non-natural methods.
Natural Methods of Getting Rid of Earwigs
Natural methods are the most popular methods to get rid of earwigs. Here are some tips on how to get rid of earwigs naturally:
Use An Earwig Trap
Earwigs are attracted to the smell of soy sauce, so it is great for drawing earwigs so you can eventually get rid of them.
All you need to do is get a container with a lid, preferably one with a metal screw-on lid. Perforate the top of the container, after which you bury it.
Pour equal parts of olive or vegetable oil and soy sauce into the container, then let the trap be for a while. The soy sauce draws the earwigs; they fall into the trap. The oil then prevents them from getting out of the container so that they will get drowned in the trap after a while. Use could also create lighted traps to get rid of earwigs too.
Fill up a container with four parts warm water and one part dish soap. Stir until it becomes foamy before placing the container in your garden, with a lamp shining just hanging above the surface of the water and dish soap mixture. Earwigs that are drawn to the light get drowned in the container
Alcohol and Water Spray
Mix some tap water with some alcohol(equal parts)in a spray bottle and shake well. Alcohol penetrates the waxy coats of these pests and kills them.
All you need to do with this pest control method is to spray some of it around those areas where you believe you have an earwig infestation.
Birds are a natural pest control method for earwigs as they are a simple way to kill earwigs in your garden. Hang some bird feeders in the parts of your garden where you believe you have an earwig infestation. Reduce the amount of bird feed after you have regular visits from birds.
After a while, the birds will discover the presence of the earwigs, and soon they will switch to them.
Diatomaceous earth is a great natural way to kill earwigs.
All you need to do is spread some of it around the earwigs’ areas regularly. Once they come in contact with it, its microscopic edges cut through them, and they begin to lose moisture very fast.
The best part is that diatomaceous earth works for other insects that might also be harmful to the plants in your garden.
Neem oil is another popular earwig pest control method. Mix about a teaspoon of neem oil with a quart of warm water in a spray bottle. Once that’s done, spray the mixture wherever you believe you have an earwig infestation. You might need to resprays the areas weekly to get maximum effect.
Use Boric acid powder
The boric acid powder can keep your garden free of earwigs. Sprinkle some of it in those areas where you believe that the resident earwigs are. Ensure that you keep it out of the reach of infants and pets around the house because it can be harmful when ingested.
Here is how to get rid of earwigs with chemicals
Use M-Pede Insecticidal Soap
The M-Pede insecticidal soap is a smothering and desiccating agent derived from potassium salts. It is also a popular pest control method for earwigs. Mix about 4-6 tablespoons of the M-Pede soap with a gallon of water.
You then spray the soapy water on the underside and dirt around the leaves of your flowers or any plant you have around before the sun comes up. You should also spray this soapy water around woodpiles, mounds of rocks, mulch, leaf litter, and any garbage cans where earwigs hide.
Granular insecticides are great for your garden because they are water-activated; they become effective whenever they come in contact with water. Use a hand spreader to provide a fine layer of some of it around. Upon contact with water, the granules start to melt to form a continuous chemical barrier around your garden. The best time to apply granular insecticide is early in the morning when there is still some dew on the dirt.
How Do You Keep Earwigs Away?
How do you prevent earwigs from your environment after learning how to get rid of earwigs?
Here are some methods:
Repair Any Holes In Your Window Screens
This is one of the best ways to prevent earwigs from your environment. Ensure that entry points like window screens are intact. Use some super glue to cover up any small holes or tears on your screens reduces the number of entry points that earwigs can exploit.
Do Some Work Around the House
You could replace the organic debris around your house with inorganic mulch. You might also want to eliminate sources of moisture around as possible. Apply some pesticide around the perimeter of your foundation and a few feet out well.
Fill in Cracks and Holes
These are common entry points. One of the best ways to fill in the cracks and holes that earwigs exploit is to use caulk. So use a caulking gun to fill in any of the small gaps around the house.
Fix Leaking Faucets or Drains
Fixing leaking faucets or drains around the house is a great way to eliminate any locations around your environment that might have moisture. It prevents earwigs by keeping them away from the house
Clean Gutters and Drainpipes
Clean the gutters and drainpipes so that you could eliminate the wet spots that attract earwigs. Clean and dry gutters will help prevent earwigs.
Use Sodium Lights
Sodium lights emit a different kind of radiation from the one in regular lighting, which attracts earwigs. Use sodium lighting to light up the home instead
Get Rid of Piles in Your Environment (stone, leaf, and wood)
Stone, leaf, and woodpiles are some of the best places for earwigs to hide. Getting rid of them will eliminate the potential of having earwigs around your environment.
Keep Your Home Clean
Keep your surroundings as clean as possible. Get rid of mulch, dead leaves, and any vegetation especially around the foundation. Trim the trees and bushes around the environment. Doing this gets rid of the shady and damp areas that earwigs prefer.
Earwigs (aka pincher bugs) are part of the ecosystem.
However, they can be pretty destructive in enormous numbers because most of them eat the leaves of plants that could be either cash, food, or ornamental plants. Beyond their destructive potential, they add little or no value to your yard or indoor living spaces.
The good news is that you can get rid of them as soon as you detect their presence.
This article describes how to get rid of earwigs and prevent them from coming around in the future.