Earwigs

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Earwig Control Products

Earwigs are nearly harmless insects that have a bad reputation that give them their name. They do not harm people directly and damage only a few plants, and do not pose public health threats, but can be a nuisance if a large infestation is present. This page will give you some earwig facts and tips on earwig control to make sure they stay out of your home and away from susceptible plants.

Earwig Identification

Earwigs, in the order dermaptera, are ¾ inches long, reddish brown with large pincher like protrusions at the rear of their bodies called cerci.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs Outside

earwigGetting rid of earwigs can be tricky since they are nocturnal. Follow these simple tips to trap and discourage earwigs.

  • If you have an earwig infestation in your well, try to remove as many as possible, placing them in a bucket of soapy water to kill them. Replace or refit your well cap to ensure the earwigs cannot gain access. 
  • Trapping earwigs is an easy way to reduce populations. The most effective earwig traps are the glue traps we sell (see products above on this page). You can also use a low-walled tin can (like a tuna fish can) filled with a little oil from the fish or vegetable oil make excellent natural earwig traps. Empty cans full of caught earwigs into soapy water before disposing. Rolled up newspapers also make a good trap. 
  • Limiting hiding places by encouraging a dry, sunny yard. Remove favored plants (algae and moss) and avoid overwatering.
  • Bifenthrin or permethrin products can provide long lasting control on susceptible plants. Mulched areas of flowerbeds sometimes require large volumes of insecticide and can be used as a barrier method.

Indoor Earwig Control

If you find earwigs in house cracks and crevasses, indoor earwig control can be as simple as vacuuming the existing earwigs. They can’t survive long without an outdoor food source. Make sure your home is properly sealed to help keep the earwigs out.

Earwig Facts

Why are Earwigs called Earwigs? Do Earwigs go in your ear?

Earwigs get their name from an old European superstition that an earwig will climb into your ear and burrow into your brain. This reputation has stuck with them, but earwigs are not interested in humans and earwigs do not go in people’s ears. 

Do Earwigs bite?

Earwigs do not bite unless scared or handled. Rather, their cerci may pinch if you put a finger between them but will not break skin. They use these pinchers to catch prey and sense their environment. 

Earwig Habitat 

Earwigs eat an omnivorous diet of aphids, mites, fleas, insect eggs, dahlias, marigolds, lettuce, potatoes, corn, hostas, mosses, lichens, and algae. European earwigs cause severe damage on seedlings and soft fruit. They are nocturnal and hide in cool, dark, usually moist spots during the day. They enter homes only to hide and are often mistaken for cockroaches. You can find them hiding under outdoor furniture, near hoses, under garbage can lids and under ill-fitting well caps. Many people have problems with earwigs under well caps (an especially attractive habitat for them). While they do not pose a direct health threat, the bugs can fall into the water, die, and decay, causing harmful bacteria to increase.

Earwig Damage

On plants earwig damage resembles small holes on fruit, leaves, flowers, or new growth. This damage can be confused with slug, cutworm, caterpillar, and even rabbit damage. If you see damage on your plants during the day but can’t find the culprit, check plants at night. They do not cause damage indoors.

Information via DoMyOwnPestControl.com experts, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension, and the University of California-Davis IPM.

Earwig Pictures

Here are some pictures of Earwigs to help you identify them.

earwig picture 1
Image via Gary Alpert

earwig picture 2 
Image via Jopseph Berger

earwig picture 3 
Image via Gary Alpert

earwig picture 4 
Image via David Cappaert

earwig picture 5 
Image via David Cappaert 


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