Do you know how to get rid of earwigs (Dermaptera) naturally? There are plenty of things you can do to help prevent them in the first place (which is always the most effective form of pest control), but you can also eliminate them using more natural, family- and earth-friendly pest control products.
What are Earwigs?
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 from ¼” to 1” long, and are typically pale brown to black or reddish-brown, and with dark markings. They also have six legs and two thin antennae. They also have leathery-looking wings (front and back) that fold back snugly around their bodies.
Some earwig species produce a foul-smelling liquid used as a defense.
Earwig forceps look somewhat dangerous, but the insects are not poisonous, nor do they spread disease. Likely because of the protruding pincers extending from there abdomens which gives them a somewhat sinister look, there is a long-lived, but unproven, wives’ tale about how earwigs burrow into people’s ears to eat their brains while they sleep. They mainly use the pincers for self-defense and to fight off aggressive earwigs. They only bite people when they are picked-up or agitated, but the pinch rarely breaks the skin.
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?
Most species of earwigs eat decaying sprouts and other vegetation (e.g., compost leaves and other decaying plants found under wet leaves or mulch).
Many species of earwigs prey on smaller insects and arthropods. These are less common than the earwigs that eat vegetation.
Other earwig species are known to plague plants, especially seedlings. The tender, green shoots are a perfect snack for earwigs. Earwigs can also damage crop and garden plants to the point of rendering the plants or crops unproductive.
Can Earwigs Harm You?
Some insects such (e.g., mosquitoes, bed bugs, etc.) can inflict harm in people by biting. An agitated earwig might use its forceps to grasp onto a finger, but earwigs do not sting, they do not transmit bacteria or disease, they are not poisonous, and they are not dangerous.
Can You Prevent Earwigs?
You can definitely help eliminate the conditions that bring earwigs into your home to begin with.
Earwigs move into homes to find food, moisture, or shelter due to a change in the weather. They are also attracted to lighting, and you may see them congregating out on your patio if you’re throwing a party. Earwigs prefer cool, damp areas to live and lay their eggs, and they may enter your home especially during an extended dry period.
If prevention methods are not implemented effectively, insecticides will not help much to get rid of earwigs in your home/garden/yard.
- Tidy Up - Get leaves, clutter, landscape timbers, logs, decorative stones, and firewood away from your home’s foundation.
- Create a “Dry” Zone Around Your Foundation - Create a “dry” buffer zone (between 6 and 12 inches) around the foundation of the structure that has no 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 extend to your structure and can cause damp, shady areas around the perimeter.
- Manage Drainage – Check rain gutters and downspouts ensure they drain away from the foundation. Set your yard/garden watering to run in the morning so that the landscape can dry out during the day.
- Manage Exterior Lights – Change outdoor light bulbs to yellow lights to attract fewer insects.
- Seal Up Entry Points - Repair screens, screen vents, repair weatherproofing around doors and windows, etc. Caulk cracks, crevices, and other entry points, indoors and outdoors to minimize, if not eliminate, ways earwigs and other insects can get in.
- Dehumidify - A dehumidifier can help reduce pests in a damp basement.
How to Get Rid of 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 flower beds, mulch areas, and turf within a couple of yards of the structure, as well as in the crawl space areas indoors.
What Kills Earwigs?
In addition to minimizing prime hiding places around your home where earwigs can nest, as well as managing moisture and spills, to help prevent indoor pest population explosions use our Maggie’s Farm Yard Bug Spray around the perimeter of your home. This will kill the earwigs and other pests outside close to the foundation of your home, and also create a repellent residual barrier to keep other bugs away. Spray mulch beds next to the foundation (don’t spray siding), out to 3 feet away from your home for the most effective control. Maggie’s Farm Home Bug Spray will also kill earwigs when they are sprayed directly with it. Home Bug Spray is best for use indoors, or for spraying a specific entry point on the outside. It won’t work as well as Yard Bug Spray to reach the ones hiding underneath the mulch outdoors or to establish a good repellent barrier.
If you are looking for long-lasting residual protection against earwigs and other crawling insects that hide indoors, use an effective insecticide dust like Maggie’s Farm Spider & Insect Dust or Maggie’s Farm Bed Bug Killer. You should apply the dust around areas where you have spotted bug activity, including attics, basements, utility closets, behind and along baseboards, underneath and behind appliances, inside wall voids, in drawer wells (space under the bottom drawer of cupboards), under cabinets, sinks, and tubs, and in other cracks and crevices where bugs have been seen. Don’t forget to apply inside any other cracks and crevices near areas with verified bug activity! These are the easiest steps to help you get rid of earwigs, crickets, millipedes, pillbugs, and other intrusive crawling bugs.
What are your go-to methods to help prevent and eliminate silverfish? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment below.