Earwig Control: How To Get Rid of Earwigs?

Earwigs are not a favorite of homeowners since they cause a lot of damage inside and outside the home. They can wreak havoc in your garden by feeding on your fruits, vegetables, and flowers. If you have been looking for a way to get rid of earwigs with little success, keep reading.

How to get rid of earwigs? To get rid of earwigs, seal all entry points like cracks, gaps, and holes; then vacuum the house. Next, apply an insecticide on their hiding places and around the house’s foundation. Prevent further infestation by fixing leaks, removing debris, and improving your home’s general sanitation.

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Throughout this article, you’ll learn what you can do to control earwig populations, the best products to use, and how to prevent them from invading your home.

What Is an Earwig?

What Is an Earwig

An earwig or pincher bug is an ancient bug whose origin dates back to 200+ million years ago. Almost 2000 species exist today, and you can find them everywhere except in the polar regions. 

Their name originated from the old belief that they crawl into human ears, lay eggs and make their residence. 


What Does an Earwig Look Like?

Earwigs have flat, leathery, elongated bodies that are either light brown with dark marks or reddish-brown. Most sport two forceps-like pincers that protrude from their abdomen and a pair of membranous wings folded underneath short forewings. 

They have six legs, long threadlike antennae, and adult sizes range from ¼-1 inch (0.6 – 2.5 cm) long.


Where Do Earwigs Come From?

Where Do Earwigs Come From

Earwigs can enter your home from the outdoors by crawling through cracks, holes, and gaps. They come in search of food, warmth, and shelter and hide under potted plants or in cracks between bricks. They access your house through poorly sealed windows and doors. 

They can also get in through:

  • Unscreened attic and foundation vents.
  • Crevices that occur where foundations meet siding.
  • Access doors that lead into crawl spaces.
  • Human activities like carrying in earwigs lodged between a bundle of books, newspapers, boxes, or plants.

Where Do Earwigs Live?

Earwigs hide in small, moist, protected crevices such as gardens, fields, and woodlands. They prefer damp places, including underneath dead leaves, mulch, logs, firewood, stones, and rotted wood. 


How Long Do Earwigs Live?

How Long Do Earwigs Live

Earwigs develop through 4 to 6 molts and live for almost one year after hatching. Female earwigs lay 20 – 50 eggs in the soil and guard the eggs, plus the newly hatched young ones. Immature earwigs leave the nest to look for food after the first molt when they shed off the exoskeleton. 

Earwigs produce two generations every year.


Can Earwigs Fly?

Of the 1,500+ documented earwig species, most have wings. However, in general, earwigs rarely fly. And the few species that fly cannot glide smoothly but do so in short bursts. Besides, earwigs have little reason to fly if they have easy access to abundant food, shelter, and mates. 


What Do Earwigs Eat?

What Do Earwigs Eat

They are nocturnal, so they hide during the daytime and emerge at night to feed on other insects, vegetables, flowers, decaying organic matter, algae, fungi, mosses, and lichens. You can tell you have an infestation if you notice signs of earwig damage like leaves full of jagged holes.

When indoors, earwigs eat houseplants and sweet or greasy foods. 


Types of Earwigs

What are the types of earwigs you might see in your house? Let’s take a look at some of the more typical types you’re likely to find.


European Earwigs 

European Earwigs

The European earwig is a common sight in the United States and is easy to spot in cool, moist parts of the home. Also known as the common earwig, the nocturnal scavenger is always seeking food, a secure environment, and consumes dead and decaying vegetation and other insects. 


Striped Earwigs 

Striped earwigs are also known as shore, riparian, or tawny earwigs. The front of their back sports a distinctive pair of stripes, while the rest of the body is a lighter brown. They are serious predators, hunting and consuming many living and dead insects, eggs, larvae, scavenged meat, caterpillars, millipedes, and spiders. 


Saint Helena Earwigs 

Also referred to as the giant earwig, this species was prevalent on Saint Helena Island in the Atlantic Ocean. Larger than other earwigs, this type of earwig had an average length of about 3 inches (7.6 cm). 

Sadly, this species is now extinct owing to changes in the environment and predators like mice, rats, and spiders.


Ring-Legged Earwigs 

Ring-legged earwigs have dark circles surrounding their yellow-colored legs, live in South America, and bear no wings. They are most common in outdoor areas such as in the garden, where they feed on vegetation and insects.


Seashore Earwigs 

These earwigs are native to Australia and New Zealand and feature a light brown pigmentation towards the front of their backsides. As their name suggests, they live on the beach, hiding underneath the sand and stones but come out to hunt for insects and pests like ants and fleas.


Maritime Earwigs 

These earwigs also go by the name seaside earwigs and live near the coast. Though they can’t swim, they feed on insects found in the wet sand. Maritime earwigs also hunt at night and hide in cool, moist locations during the daytime. They have no wings, however, so they do not fly. 


Are Earwigs Dangerous?

Though they look intimidating, earwigs are harmless insects that pose no real threat. Hence, they are not dangerous. When scared, earwigs emit a foul-smelling secretion, but they don’t contain any venom and are not poisonous since they have no stingers. 


Do Earwigs Bite?

Do Earwigs Bite

These insects don’t bite though they have a menacing pair of pincers they can use if they need to defend themselves arises. Still, the pincher bugs can pinch your skin with their pincers, but this would usually not break the skin, resulting in puncture wounds, or cause much pain. 


Do Earwigs Go In Your Ear?

Contrary to popular opinion, earwigs do not seek out your ears though as tiny insects, but they could accidentally wander inside. But even in the unlikely event that this happened, they would not lay their eggs inside the ear canal or feed on your brain.


Are Earwigs Poisonous?

Earwigs are non-poisonous insects. As a result, their pinches heal pretty fast and hardly lead to long-term complications, if any. At times, the minor break on the skin caused by their pincers might lead to a little bleeding, but the ensuing mild discomfort passes pretty fast.


Do Earwigs Carry Disease?

Earwigs do not carry diseases, and there is no evidence to prove that these insects transmit any diseases to either humans or animals. Still, many people believe that earwig pincers are dangerous though, in reality, they are not harmful at all.    


What Attracts Earwigs? 

Well-lit homes attract earwigs. A leaking basement that provides a wet and humid environment forms an added attraction, and so does a dirt floor or an unfinished basement filled with leaves. Earwigs are typically outdoor insects but will find their way into homes during prolonged dry weather or in the fall. 

Below is a video explaining why you might find earwigs in your home:


How Do You Get Rid of Earwigs? Step-by-Step Instructions

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get rid of earwigs:

1. Inspect your home, paying close attention to low areas to determine how the earwigs gain entry.

2. Seal all cracks and entry points with sealant and use weather stripping around windows, doors, and pipes. For brick or stone structures, cover holes with steel wool. 

3. Vacuum the house, then use boric acid or other aerosol insecticides around potential hiding places such as carpet edges, baseboards, or door and window frames.

4. Use trapping and insecticides to reduce outside populations, noting that insecticide treatments done indoors do little to prevent invasions.

5. To prevent earwigs from getting inside your home, apply insecticides on a 3 – 5 foot (36 – 60 inches) perimeter around the house. Treat the flower beds and subfloor crawl spaces too. Do this in the evening before the insects become active.

6. Minimize the landscape’s moisture content by ensuring there’s good drainage and water the area less often.

7. Consider applying residual insecticides during late spring or early summer to reduce earwig populations that would otherwise develop in summer. 


How To Get Rid of Earwigs In Some Specific Places

How can you get rid of earwigs in certain places in your home? Let’s look at some of the common places they get into and how to get rid of them.


How To Get Rid of Earwigs In Your House?

You’ll want to sweep off occasional earwigs with a broom. Other things you should do include:

  • Seal cracks
  • Fix leaky plumbing
  • Eliminate dampness in crawl spaces beneath the home, close to air conditioning units, and near outside faucets. 
  • Install rain gutters and spouts to carry water away from your house’s foundation. 

How To Get Rid of Earwigs In the Garden?

How To Get Rid of Earwigs In the Garden

You’ll need to reduce their hiding places by removing ornamental stones, debris, piles of wood, excessive mulch, and trim the grass. You can also use earwig bait around plants or apply a pesticide containing Permethrin or Carbaryl.


How To Get Rid of Earwigs In the Bathroom?

For earwigs in the bathroom, you’ll want to remove any excess moisture, cover drains, and keep the floor and areas around faucets dry. You might also want to add a dehumidifier to keep the moisture down.


How To Get Earwigs Out of Potted Plants?

How To Get Earwigs Out of Potted Plants

Set traps or apply petroleum jelly on the plant stems to prevent earwigs from crawling up and causing damage. You’ll also want to add a couple of drain holes at the bottom of the pots to let excess moisture escape.


How To Get Rid of Earwigs In My Basement?

Caulk existing cracks, use a dehumidifier and fix any leaks to keep the floor free of moisture. You might also want to keep your basement uncluttered, so they won’t have a place to hide and lay their eggs.


Best Products To Get Rid of Earwigs?

If you want the best ways to get rid of earwigs, we’ve reviewed the best products found on Amazon. Check out the following products:


Best Earwig Traps 


TERRO Spider & Insect Traps 

TERRO T3206SR Non-Toxic Indoor Spider, Ant, Cockroach, Centipede, and Crawling Insect Trap - 12 Traps
  • Say Goodbye to Bugs – Traps and kills spiders, ants, roaches,...
  • Kills the “Big 3” – These traps also capture dangerous...
  • Versatile Design – These easy-to-use traps can be deployed flat...
  • Use Throughout Your Home – Place traps along baseboards, under...
  • Plenty of Protection – Four traps per package allow for...

TERRO Spider & insect traps are effective in trapping and killing most crawling insects, including earwigs. These ready-to-use sticky traps are safe to use around the home since they fold up, preventing curious kids and pets from getting into contact with their sticky surfaces. Place them in corners, behind doors, against baseboards, or beneath the furniture.


S&T INC. Insect Traps

S&T INC. 512501 30pk Insect Traps, Brown Recluse, Hobo Spiders, Black Widows, White
  • Traps and kills spiders, ants, cockroaches, crickets and other...
  • Kills Brown Recluse, Black Widow and Hobo Spiders
  • Non-toxic and pesticide-free

These non-toxic, pesticide-free traps also help get rid of most crawling insects and are safe and easy to use in your home. For best results, place the traps in earwig’s potential hiding spots like corners, bathrooms, underneath furniture, and baseboards.


Best Earwig Pesticides 


Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray

Bonide (BND857) - Pyrethrin Garden Insect Spray Mix, Outdoor Insecticide/Pesticide Concentrate (8 oz.)
  • INSECT KILLER - This pest control is a fast and effective way to...
  • PROTECTS VEGETABLES, TREES, FLOWERS & ORNAMENTALS - Designed for...
  • CONTAINS PYRETHRIN - One of the active ingredients is Pyrethrins....
  • NO OBJECTIONABLE RESIDUE - Garden Insect Spray can be used on...
  • EASY TO APPLY - Product quickly mixes with water and should be...

This insect killer works fast to eliminate most garden insects. It contains Pyrethrin, a naturally occurring biodegradable insecticide that kills insects via their nervous system. To use, mix the product with water and apply using a hand sprayer or sprinkler can. 


Sevin Dust

No products found.

Sevin Dust is a ready-to-use formulation that comes in a shaker canister. Effective against most common household pests, the bug killer delivers maximum control of 65+ insects and is easy to use. Apply directly to problem areas for best results.


Best Earwig Repellents 


Cutter Backyard Bug Control 

Sale
Cutter 61067 HG-61067 32Oz Rts Bug Free Spray, 1 pack, Silver Bottle
  • KILLS FAST: Kills mosquitoes, listed ant types, fleas and other...
  • QUICKFLIP HOSE-END SPRAYER: Hose-end-sprayer activates spray at...
  • LASTS ALL SUMMER: Controls up to 12 weeks against house crickets,...
  • COVERAGE: Treats up to 5,000 square feet of lawn
  • NO MIXING REQUIRED: Attach the sprayer to a garden hose to treat...

This amazing concentrate kills earwigs fast and its effective control lasts up to 12 weeks. You can apply the product on a lawn covering up to 5,000 square feet. To use, affix the sprayer to your garden hose and treat your lawn and outdoor surfaces.


Eco Defense USDA Biobased Pest Control Spray

Sale
Eco Defense USDA Biobased Pest Control Spray - Ant, Roach, Spider, Bug Killer and Repellent - Natural Indoor & Outdoor Bug Spray - Child & Pet Friendly
  • ELIMINATES HOME INVADING PESTS – This bug spray for home works...
  • ORGANIC & NATURAL – Made with Natural, Organic, and non-toxic...
  • FAST ACTING – Eco Defense is not only Fast Acting but also Long...
  • SAFE – Safe to use all around your home. Eco Defense is a...
  • MONEY BACK GUARANTEE - Formulated by professional exterminators...

This fast-acting bug control spray works naturally to kill and repel most home-invading pests, earwigs included. The long-lasting organic product comprises non-toxic ingredients, is safe, and ideal to use if you are keen on using non-chemical products.


Best Earwig Sprays


Suspend SC 

Sale
Bayer 4031982B Suspend 16oz, White
  • Broad-spectrum control of more than 50 nuisance pests
  • Effective knockdown with a long residual
  • No odor, no visible residue
  • Package Dimensions: 3.1 L x 27.7 H x 18.0 W (centimeters)

This broad-spectrum control formula is effective even in low concentrations. It helps get rid of 50+ insect pests and has a long residual. The good thing about this product is that it is odorless, has no visible residue, and is flexible enough to apply on, carpets, upholstery, and kitchen areas.


Sevin GardenTech Insect Killer Concentrate

Sale
Sevin 100530123 GardenTech Insect Killer Concentrate, 32oz
  • Kills over 500 listed pests on vegetables, fruits, ornamentals,...
  • Formulated to protect over 250 vegetables and fruits
  • Can be used up to one day of harvesting on tomatoes, peppers,...
  • Kills common household bugs such as ants, roaches, and spiders...
  • Active Ingredients: Zeta-Cypermethrin

This remarkable product kills 500 common pests on your lawn, vegetables, and ornamental plants. When applied around the home, it will eliminate household bugs before they get a chance to venture inside. Once you spray Sevin Concentrate, it kills on contact and keeps you protected for up to 3 months.


How To Get Rid of Earwigs Naturally

While earwigs pose no danger to your health, they are a nuisance and their foul odor is unpleasant. Therefore, you might not want to have them hanging around. Using natural methods to eliminate them is inexpensive and eco-friendly. 

To get rid of earwigs naturally:

  • Lure birds to your garden, then leave them to hunt for the earwigs.
  • Spray them with a mix of rubbing alcohol and water.
  • Spray potential entry points with a mixture of neem oil and warm water.
  • Set a trap using a mason jar filled with soy sauce and vegetable oil and drown the earwigs.
  • Mix M-Pede Insecticidal Soap with water and use this to spray the house foundation, crevices, and around doors and windows. 
M-Pede Insecticide Soap Concetrate-Miticide-Fungicide-2.5 Gallons Natural - ea 1
  • M-Pede Fungicide Miticide Insecticide insecticidal soap is an...

Best Natural Earwig Repellents

Natural earwig repellents are as effective as chemical repellents. But unlike the chemical products, they are safe to use around kids and pets and cause no harm to the environment. Some of the best natural earwig repellents include the following:

Sale
Organic Neem Bliss 100% Pure Cold Pressed Neem Seed Oil - (16 oz) High Azadirachtin Content - OMRI Listed for Organic Use
  • Good for All Neem Oil Uses: Our 100% Cold-pressed pure Organic...
  • OMRI Listed (for organic use): It is listed by the Organic...
  • 100% Cold-pressed: The oil is taken without any use of heat or...
Safer Brand 5168 Diatomaceous Earth Powder Ant, Crawling Insect and Bed Bug Killer, 7 Ounces
  • 7 oz. powder presentation
  • Contains diatomaceous earth (77.69%)
  • Kills insects by ingestion/dehydration within 48 hrs
  • Works indoors or outdoors
  • OMRI Listed and compliant for use in organic gardening
  • Dish-washing soap
Lucy's Family Owned - Natural Distilled White Vinegar, 1 Gallon (128 oz) - 5% Acidity
  • Why Customers Choose Lucy’s Vinegar - From cleaning to cooking,...
  • Cooking - Spices up dipping sauces, develops flavor, makes...
  • Cleaning - Yes! White Vinegar for cleaning works fantastically....
  • We Love What We Do - One of the sweetest "fruits of our labors"...
  • Family Owned & Family Run - Here at Lucy's, we seek to achieve...
  • Plants like basil and lemon balm
Handcraft Eucalyptus Essential Oil - 100% Pure & Natural - Premium Therapeutic Grade with Premium Glass Dropper - Huge 4 fl. Oz
  • 100% PURE & NATURAL EUCALYPTUS OIL - Handcraft Blends oils are...
  • PREMIUM THERAPEUTIC GRADE & PREMIUM QUALITY – All Handcraft...
  • HIGH QUALITY GLASS BOTTLE AND DROPPER – Our essential oil comes...
  • EUCALYPTUS OIL BLENDS WELL WITH - Cedarwood, Frankincense,...
  • Bottled in the USA – Handcraft Blends sources their oils from...
Sale
Artizen 30ml Oils - Peppermint Essential Oil - 1 Fluid Ounce
  • 100% Pure & Natural Peppermint Essential Oil - What sets Artizen...
  • Don't Fall Victim To Cheap Diluted Peppermint Oil - Most of the...
  • Most 4 Ounce Peppermint Oils Contain Less Than 1/3 Of Natural Oil...
  • High Quality Glass Bottles With Eyedropper - We use high quality...
  • Lifetime Warranty - The manufacturer, Artizen Essential Oils,...
Sale
UpNature Citronella Essential Oil - 100% Natural & Pure , Undiluted, Premium Quality Aromatherapy Oil- Keeps Insects and Mosquitos Away Naturally - Treat Fevers & Headaches, 4oz
  • HIGH QUALITY CITRONELLA OIL: 100% pure, gentle, and effective...
  • MADE WITH LOVE: UpNature was founded by two brothers with a...
  • GREAT FOR AROMATHERAPY: Place in a diffuser to help prevent and...
  • SAFETY PRECAUTION: For external use only. Recommended Essential...
  • 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: We offer a full 100% 365 days money...
Artizen 30ml Oils - Clove Essential Oil - 1 Fluid Ounce
  • 100% Pure & Natural Clove Essential Oil - What sets Artizen...
  • Don't Fall Victim To Cheap Diluted Clove Oil - Most of the...
  • Most 4 Ounce Clove Oils Contain Less Than 1/3 Of Natural Oil -...
  • High Quality Glass Bottles With Eyedropper - We use high quality...
  • American Based Company - All of Artizen's essential oils are...
Sale
Artizen 30ml Oils - Cinnamon Essential Oil - 1 Fluid Ounce
  • 100% Pure & Natural Cinnamon Essential Oil - What sets Artizen...
  • Don't Fall Victim To Cheap Diluted Cinnamon Oil - Most of the...
  • Most 4 Ounce Cinnamon Oils Contain Less Than 1/3 Of Natural Oil -...
  • High Quality Glass Bottles With Eyedropper - We use high quality...
  • Lifetime Warranty - The manufacturer, Artizen Essential Oils,...

How To Keep Earwigs Away

After going through the exhausting process of eliminating earwigs from your property, you might get discouraged if you see them come back. That is why it is critical to follow up on your efforts by implementing the following actions to your property:

  • Improve the overall sanitation: Keep your home and compound clean.
  • Repair window screens, fix leaky pipes and fill cracks and holes in the foundation.
  • Trim shrubbery, remove dead leaves, mulch, and woodpiles.
  • Use yellow outdoor light bulbs to attract earwigs less.
  • Use a residual insecticide like permethrin around the foundation.

Summary

Earwigs are not dangerous but more of a nuisance. They do not bite, have no poison, and will certainly not get into your ears. Though they don’t reproduce indoors, their presence could point to a more severe problem such as termite or rodent infestation or water damage. But, as you get rid of the earwigs, be sure to investigate how and why they got into your home. 


List of Sources

Brown, W. Earwigs. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

 Hahn, J., Pellitteri, P. (2019). Earwigs. University of Minnesota Extension.

Flint, M. L. (2012). Pests in Gardens and Landscapes – Earwigs. Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California.

Jesse, L. Don’t Wig Out Over Earwigs. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.