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How to Get Rid of Earwigs

Having earwigs in your home can be an unenjoyable experience. Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent them from being there in the first place. When these pests invade, you can eliminate them using more environmentally and family-friendly pest control products

What are Earwigs?

Earwig on flower

Earwigs are nocturnal, odd-looking nuisance insect pests that can make their way into your home in search of food, moisture, and harborage, similar to silverfish and firebrats. Earwigs are found all over the United States, and there are over 20 earwig species in the U.S. alone. On the plus side, earwig infestations are rare.

What do Earwigs Look Like?


Earwigs are elongated and slender, with pincers (forceps) extending backward from their abdomens. They measure between ¼” to 1” long. They have a pale brown to black or reddish-brown body. Some have dark markings. Earwigs have six legs and two thin antennae. They also have leathery-looking wings (front and back) that fold back snugly around their bodies.

Are Earwigs Dangerous?

Some earwig species produce a foul-smelling liquid used as a defense.

Earwig forceps look dangerous, but these pests aren’t poisonous, nor do they spread disease. There is a long-lived wives’ tale about how earwigs burrow into people’s ears while they sleep. This is false and their pincers are mainly used for self-defense to fight off aggressive earwigs. They can pinch skin when picked up or agitated, but it rarely breaks the skin.

Earwig infestations are problematic because of the size of their population. These pests live together in large groups both indoors and outside. Some species feed on young plants, which can stunt their growth.

Difference Between Earwigs & Silverfish

Can Earwigs Fly?

Some earwig species fly, but those that do only do so in short, sporadic bursts. On the ground, they are very fast-moving.

What Do Earwigs Eat?

Pile of leaves

Most earwigs eat decaying vegetation including plants and leaves. Others may eat living plants, especially seedlings. This can cause problems for the plants by hindering their growth. Some earwig species may feed on small pests like aphids and mites.

Where Do Earwigs Live?

Earwigs search for places they can find food, moisture, and shelter. They prefer to live outside in areas that are cool, damp, and undisturbed. If conditions no longer suit their needs, they’ll migrate into homes. Here are a few places earwigs are known to hide:

  • Under Leaves & Yard Debris
  • Mulch & Soil
  • Holes in Trees
  • Basements
  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Laundry Areas
  • Patios & Porches

How to Prevent Earwigs

Eliminating conditions that are favorable to earwigs can help prevent an infestation. Check out a few tips to keep earwigs out of your yard and home.

  • Eliminate Moisture Build-Up: Make sure your gutters aren’t clogged and that water drains away from your foundation. Water your yard or garden in the morning to ensure it dries before earwigs become active at night.
  • Eliminate Yard Debris: Removing leaves, grass clippings, and other yard debris will help eliminate potential hiding spots.
  • Create a “Dry” Zone Around Your Foundation: Keep the perimeter of your foundation (between 6 and 12 inches) free of mulch, dead leaves, or any other damp organic material. The dryness will keep any outdoor earwigs away from your foundation.
  • Trim Branches: Trim tree and shrub branches that touch the side of your home. This can help keep the perimeter of your home dry and free of shady areas that could attract earwigs.  
  • Manage Exterior Lights: Change outdoor light bulbs to yellow lights to attract fewer insects.
  • Seal Entry Points: Examine the exterior and interior of your home for any cracks or gaps. Repair window and door screens as well as weather stripping. Add screens to your vents. Caulk cracks, crevices, and other entry points to keep pests from sneaking into your home.
  • Use a Dehumidifier: Adding a dehumidifier to areas with moisture build-up, like basements, can help to prevent earwigs.

    How to Get Rid of Earwigs

    Taking the time to implement preventative measures is the first step in getting rid of earwigs. Make sure to keep things dry and minimize potential hiding spots for these pests. In addition to these actions, you can use pest control products that are more environmentally and family-friendly.

    What Kills Earwigs?

    Yard Bug Spray & Home Bug Spray

    Spraying the perimeter of your home with a plant-based insecticide spray, like our Yard Bug Spray, can help keep your space free of earwigs. It kills earwigs and other pests that are close to the foundation of your home, while also creating a repellent barrier. Make sure to spray out to 3 feet away from your home for the most effective control. Don’t forget to spray mulch beds too.

    Our Home Bug Spray can be used to deter and control earwig infestations indoors. For preventative treatment, you can spray common entry points on the outside of your home. It will also kill earwigs on contact.

    For long-lasting residual protection against earwigs and other crawling pests, use an effective insecticide dust. Our plant-based Spider & Insect Dust and our mineral-based Bed Bug Killer dust can help. Dust should be applied in areas you have spotted bugs including:

    • Attics
    • Basements
    • Utility closets
    • Behind and along baseboards
    • Underneath appliances
    • Inside wall voids
    • Drawer wells (space under the bottom drawer of cupboards)
    • Under cabinets, sinks, & tubs
    • Cracks & crevices

    When is the Best Time to Spray for Earwigs?

    Spring and summer are the best times to apply pest control products to prevent and eliminate earwigs. Most treatment for earwigs with pest control products should be done outside with the application around the foundation (perimeter treatment). Also, focus on flowerbeds, mulch areas, and turf within a couple of yards of the structure, as well as in the crawl space areas indoors.

    Check Out Our Strategy Guide for Controlling Earwigs and Other Indoor Pests here


    What are your go-to methods to help prevent and eliminate earwigs? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

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