Earwigs, AKA, pincher bugs, are 3/4 to an inch long and reddish-brown brown color. The name – earwigs – leads many people to believe they crawl into your ears at night when you’re sleeping.
In France, they’re known as “ear piercers” and the Germans call them “ear worms.” The old English name for them is ēarewicga (which means "ear insect").
Luckily, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite their menacing looking pinchers, they’re almost completely harmless. Their pinchers are for defending themselves from other insects, not biting people in their sleep.
That honor remains with the bed bugs.
Still, you’re probably reading this because you want to know how to get rid of earwigs. If they’re coming inside, you’re probably trying to find out how to get rid of earwigs in your house. Harmless or not, no one wants bugs in the house.
So, how do you get rid of earwigs? It’s easier than you might think. Keep reading and we’ll show you 9 ways to get rid of them.
What Attracts Earwigs in the First Place?
Before you can attack an enemy, you need to know your enemy, so let’s take a few moments to get to know something about earwigs. Knowledge is power and will help you plan your defenses to keep earwigs out of the house.
Earwigs (order Dermaptera) are nocturnal insects that prefer warm damp areas. Their hiding places are under flower pots, rock, any woodpile, mulch, leaf litter, and crawl spaces under houses. If it’s damp, dark, and warm, they like it.
When earwigs enter your house, it’s because they’re trying to escape from cold or dry weather. Alternately, they’ll come in looking for food. Occasionally they’re just following the water from a leaky pipe and wound up in your house by accident.
This is why you’ll often find them gathered around the A/C unit outside. The puddle of water from the condensation draws them like a magnet. Leaky garden faucets and damp basements are high on their list of favorite places to hang out.
Earwigs were imported into the United States from Europe around 1907. There are 20 species of earwigs here now but the main one is Forficula auricularia. Earwigs are actually native to Europe, western Asia, and (possibly) North Africa.
Earwigs are scavengers and omnivores who will eat anything. They prefer to eat dead or decaying plants and animals, army worms, aphids, grubs, insect eggs, and maggots. If they run out of those, they’ll eat living vegetables and flowers, leaving ragged holes in the leaves.
The male earwig has pincers that are long and curved but the female’s pincers are shorter and straighter. The female will lay eggs in underground tunnels. She will lay 40-50 shiny eggs at a time. The female is ferociously protective of them.
The eggs will hatch in about a week and aside from size, are quite similar to the adults. They will begin eating immediately.
Take a look at the video below for the top 6 reasons why you might have earwigs in your home.
6 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Earwigs From Inside Your House
Soy Sauce and Oil Trap
Earwigs are easily attracted by the scent of soy sauce, the same soy sauce that’s on the table at your favorite Chinese restaurant. You can use that to create a nifty little trap to catch earwigs in.
Take any container that has a lid, a mason jar that has a metal screw-on lid, for instance, and poke some holes in the top so earwigs can get in. Put equal parts soy sauce and vegetable oil or olive oil in and mix them together.
Bury the container in the ground until the holes are at ground level. The soy sauce will lure the earwigs into the holes and the oil will prevent them from being able to crawl back out. They’ll be trapped and die. Change the mixture in your earwig trap as needed.
Alcohol and Water Spray
A combination of tap water and Isopropyl Alcohol 70% makes an excellent contact spray for killing earwigs. Combine equal parts Isopropyl Alcohol 70% and water in a 32-ounce spray bottle and shake well to mix. It will kill earwigs when you spray it on them.
You can also spray it around the foundation of your home, in the flowerbeds, and plants in your garden where the earwig infestation is at its worst. The alcohol acts as a surfactant to stick to their shell while it begins eating its way through to kill them.
Note: some plants may not respond well to this mixture. Test it on a single leaf and wait a few days to see how it reacts before spraying the whole plant.
Remember Alfred Hitchcock’s old 1963 horror movie, The Birds? Put earwigs in place of the people in the movie and you’ll have some idea of how this one will play out. Birds love to eat insects of all kinds, especially earwigs.
To attract birds to your backyard, hang a couple of bird feeders in areas where you’ve noticed heavy earwig populations. Once the birds start coming on a regular basis, reduce the amount of birdseed in the feeder so they’ll start hunting insects instead.
Voilà! No more earwigs.
The nice thing about this all-natural method of earwig control is that you’ll attract some colorful birds to your yard.
Diatomaceous earth is edible and often used for digestive issues. It is from the fossilized exoskeletons of microscopic sea creatures called diatoms. It’s a desiccant that causes living things to lose moisture. The smaller the creature or plant, the more pronounced the effect.
Get a bag of diatomaceous earth and use a spreader to spread a fine layer of it all around your plants and the foundation of your house. As the earwigs crawl across it, it will begin sucking the moisture out of them. The microscopic sharp edges will also cut their shell, hastening the loss of moisture.
This will also prevent infestation by other garden pests which might be trying to eat your plants and flowers.
Extracted from the neem trees of India, neem oil has been used for centuries to kill and repel insects of all kinds. Neem oil contains a natural chemical called Azadirachtin, which is the active ingredient.
It disrupts the hormonal balance in insects so they die before they can molt and it can suppress their desire to feed. It has repellent properties as well as fungicidal ones. Mix a teaspoon of neem oil with a quart of warm water in a 32-ounce spray bottle.
Spray the mixture everywhere you’ve seen the earwigs, especially around the entry points they use to gain access to your house. Spray it around the areas where they congregate outside, particularly dark, damp areas or mounds of decaying plant material.
Inside the house, spray it around all the cracks and crevices along the baseboards, around the windows and doors. This method of pest control will give you good results as long as you remember to respray the infected areas 2-3 times a week.
M-Pede Insecticidal Soap
This insecticidal soap is derived from potassium salts. It is a smothering and desiccating agent. The soapy water seals off their breathing tubes and the salts pull moisture out of their bodies, leading to death by suffocation and/or dehydration.
Combine 4-6 tablespoons of M-Pede Insecticidal Soap with a gallon of water in a 1-gallon professional sprayer. The best time to spray is early in the morning before the sun comes up while the temperature is below 85ºF.
Be sure to spray the underside of the leaves and the dirt around the base of the leaves. Spray around the foundation of your house, around all the cracks and crevices along the baseboards, and around the windows and doors.
Spray around any woodpiles, mounds of rocks, mulch, leaf litter, and under the garbage cans. Respray once a week until the infestation is gone, then continue spraying the same way once a month to prevent earwigs from returning.
2 Additional Remedies to Get Rid of Earwigs From Inside Your House
Suspend SC is a professional-strength insecticide used every day by pest control professionals in the United States. It’s now available for sale to the general public. The active ingredient, Deltamethrin, is a synthetic version of natural pyrethrins derived from Chrysanthemum flowers.
There is a built-in measuring cup on the container. Measure 0.75 ounces of the concentrate into a gallon of tap water and agitate vigorously in a 1-gallon professional sprayer for 2-3 minutes.
Spray it all around the foundation of the house on the outside and around the cracks and crevices of the baseboards on the inside. Spray around all the windows and doors, both inside and outside. Suspend will last about 90 days before you need to respray.
Delta Dust is a fine dry powder, similar in texture and fineness to baby powder or talcum powder. The active ingredient is Deltamethrin. Delta Dust is a professional insecticide that is now available for purchase by the general public.
In order to use it, you’ll need to get a bulb duster. Fill the duster about halfway full. Cap it and shake vigorously before each application. Squeeze the bulb sharply to emit a brief cloud of dust from the tip of the application rod.
You should puff a cloud of Delta Dust into every crack and crevice you can find inside and out. Delta Dust is not water-soluble so it won’t wash away. It has the added distinction of being one of the longest-lasting insecticides on the market, up to 9 months!
Note: Delta Dust won’t hurt you if you get a mouthful of the dust blowing back in your face but it tastes nasty (been there, done that). Keep your mouth closed when you’re using it.
1 Bonus Remedy to Get Rid of Earwigs From Outside Your Home
The two insecticides listed above, Suspend and Delta Dust, can be used inside the house and outside it. However, they should only be used on the building itself. If you need something further out in the yard, you’ll need a different kind of pesticide.
Talstar PL Granules is another professional-grade insecticide that has become available to the general public. The active ingredient is Bifenthrin, a synthetic pyrethrin. Talstar granules are water-activated so rain or just watering the yard will start them working.
You’ll need a hand spreader to broadcast a fine layer of them around your house. The granules come in a 25-pound bag but 3 pounds in the spreader will be enough to broadcast a band 10-feet wide all the way around the average house at normal walking speed.
Once they get wet, they’ll begin melting and spreading out to form a continuous chemical barrier around your house. Broadcasting the granules early in the morning when the dew is still on the ground is the perfect time to apply them.
Talstar granules are safe for your pets and children, and like most professional insecticides, it will last for up to 90 days before you need to reapply them.
Best Product Suggestion(s) for Getting Rid of Earwigs?
Neem oil is our choice for the best inside product for killing and preventing earwigs on the inside of the house. Because it doesn’t have any chemicals in it, it is safe for your children and pets. It doesn’t have any odor, it’s cheap and effective.
For keeping earwigs out of the house, we like Talstar Granules. In our experience, granules are the number one preferred method of killing earwigs before they make it into your house.
We used them with countless customers (homeowners, businesses, banks, schools, etc.) and they work great. They’re also safe around your children and pets.
How to Prevent Earwigs in the First Place?
There are several steps you can take to make your house uninviting for earwigs. Keeping them out is easier than killing them later, so get a head start with these simple steps.
On The Outside
- Get rid of unnecessary mulch
- Rake up the leaves in the yard and around the house
- Trim the trees and bushes to get rid of shady, damp areas
- Use sodium lights instead of regular lights that attract bugs
- Seal cracks and crevices with silicone caulk
On The Inside
- Fix leaky pipes
- Use a dehumidifier to keep humidity below 60%
- Seal cracks and crevices with silicone caulk
Let Us Bend Your “Ear”
Earwigs aren’t dangerous to people – they don’t crawl in your ear – but they are ugly and unsightly. In large enough numbers they can damage your flowerbeds and garden crops.
Preventing them from establishing a foothold on your property is fairly easy and even killing them if they start coming around isn’t as hard as it might seem. If you follow the simple steps above, pretty soon you won’t be “hearing” anything more about earwigs.
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