How Dangerous Are Earwigs?

Earwigs are rumored to crawl into our ear canals while we’re asleep and lay eggs. However, this is a common misbelief that has spread fear about earwigs for centuries. Earwigs are not known to crawl into our ears and start infestations. In fact, earwigs are pretty shy bugs that are typically found outdoors and hiding away from humans. They are nocturnal and enjoy coming out at night to find flowers or fruits to eat. Normally, these garden pests stay outdoors, but they may wander into our homes if given the right conditions. 

Earwigs are tiny insects, typically between six to 25 millimeters in length, with wings and intimidating pincers. With their large pincers, earwigs are also believed to have incredibly painful and dangerous bites. So, how true is this? Are earwigs actually dangerous to people and their pets?

Read on to learn about the following earwig topics: 

  • Are Earwigs Dangerous to Humans?
  • Are Earwigs Dangerous to Any Pets?
  • Are Earwigs Poisonous?
  • Do Earwigs Sting or Bite?
  • Do Earwigs Pose Any Health Risk?
Reviewed By:
Ed Spicer

Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!

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    Are Earwigs Dangerous to Humans? 

    Despite their large pincers, earwigs aren’t typically able to break human skin. If they feel threatened, earwigs may use their large forceps to grasp your finger or skin, but it’s unlikely that they will be able to pierce your skin. At worst, your skin may be broken. However, earwigs have no venom or poison, so an earwig bite should be treated much like any scratch. Simply wash the scratch and use an antibiotic lotion or cream to prevent the scratch from becoming infected. To this day, there are no known allergic reactions or emergency treatments that have ever been needed after an earwig bite. 

    We also want to take a moment to dispel the myth that earwigs will crawl into your ear canal and lay eggs. This is an urban legend that is unfounded. In fact, earwigs are scared of humans, and it’s doubtful they would approach a human, whether they were asleep or awake. 

    The most troubling thing about finding earwigs inside your home is that they’ve likely followed another pest infestation inside. Earwigs are garden pests by nature but will sometimes wander into our homes, especially if they follow another pest that makes holes in your home’s exterior. 

    For example, an earwig may follow wood-destroying pests, like termites, carpenter ants, or rodents, as they create holes in your homes. While wood-destroying pests aren’t considered an immediate health risk, rodents are definitely a serious health risk. In short, spotting earwigs in your home itself isn’t alarming, but the possibility of other pest infestations, such as rodents, is a serious one that should be taken seriously. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an exterminator to have your home assessed for earwigs and other possible pests in your home. 

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    Are Earwigs Dangerous to Any Pets?  

    Earwigs are not dangerous to pets. Their pincers are unable to pierce the skin of our pets. So, even if your cat or dog goes after an earwig, they are unlikely to even feel an earwig bite. On top of this, earwigs are not poisonous or venomous, so if your dog or cat eats an earwig, they shouldn’t experience any health problems as a result. The worst thing an earwig could do to your pet is release its foul defensive odors on them, causing your pet to need a thorough bath. 

    Although earwigs are not dangerous to humans or pets, they are a significant nuisance pest when it comes to our gardens and plants. Earwigs are even known to go after seedlings, which can be a significant problem for any avid gardener. 

    Here are some critical steps in home pest control that will help you avoid serious earwig infestations:

    • Keep up with landscaping. Earwigs love fruits, plants, and flowers. If you have overgrown plants on your property, this gives them easy access to their preferred food source. 
    • Use a caulking product to close up old holes and entry points. If you’ve had previous pest problems, make sure that you seal up any holes or gaps that those pests may have caused. Earwigs and other pests, like cockroaches or silverfish, could easily use these holes to enter your home. 
    • Take care of plumbing and gutter problems. Water overflow from damaged gutters can be used by earwigs to enter your home. 
    • Use a dehumidifier in your basement or crawl space to remove excess moisture from the air. 
    • Trim trees or bushes away from your house. Any plants that touch your home’s exterior give pests an easier way to enter your home, so keep these trimmed and tidy. 
    • Change white outdoor light bulbs for yellow or sodium vapor lights, which are less attractive to earwigs. 
    • Treat your plants and property with earwig killer pesticides

    Despite popular belief, earwigs don’t crawl into people’s ears and lay eggs. This is a common myth that has led to widespread fear of earwigs for no practical reason.

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    Are Earwigs Poisonous? 

    No. Even if earwigs could pierce our skin with their pincers, earwigs do not have poison or venom that they inject into us with their bites. As a whole, earwigs are not considered harmful to humans or other animals as they do not produce poison or venom. 

    At worst, some species of earwigs may release a disgusting stench from their abdomens. This smelly liquid is not harmful and is usually only released when they feel threatened. Despite the disgusting smell, this liquid is not known to be detrimental to humans or pets.

    Do Earwigs Sting or Bite? 

    Earwigs have prominent pincers that resemble forceps on one end of their abdomen. Male earwigs have curved pincers, while female earwigs have a straight pincer. While these pincers look scary and can bite you, they are not usually able to break human skin. As a whole, earwig bites are harmless to humans and pets. 


    Do Earwigs Pose Any Health Risk?

    No. Earwigs do not pose any health risk to humans or pets because they cannot pierce our skin with their pincers and do not create poison or venom. Despite popular belief, they are also not known to crawl into people’s ears and lay eggs. This is a common myth that has led to widespread fear of earwigs for no practical reason. 

    Earwigs will go after other insects with their bites, as well as our gardens. Your garden and home are at a much higher risk of damage from an earwig because they are notorious for destroying soft fruits, sweet corn, and plants. Many earwig species will also go after flowers, like roses, marigolds, and dahlias. If you suspect you have earwigs in your garden, look for irregular holes in your plants’ leaves and shallow grooves on fruits. Often, earwig damage may resemble caterpillar damage in a garden.


    Final Thoughts

    Earwigs are not harmful to humans or pets but can be a massive problem in our gardens. Large numbers of earwigs may also indicate a more extensive, underlying pest infestation, especially of wood-destroying insects, like carpenter ants or termites. Earwigs will often use the holes that wood-destroying pests create to enter our homes. They may also use holes left behind by rodents. 

    So, if you have another pest problem, it’s critical that you call your local pest control service company or take pest prevention measures to take control of the situation. Don’t wait to take care of your earwig infestation because earwigs can quickly expand their infestation and destroy the plants and fruits in your garden.

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