How to Get Rid of Earwigs in Your Home

Earwigs are common household pests surrounded by urban legends and misunderstandings, though few if any of which are rooted in reality. So let’s take a few minutes to get to know them!

What Are Earwigs and What Do They Look Like?

Earwigs, also known as pincher bugs, are a small, slender insect which can commonly be found in homes across North America. Rarely larger than just under an inch long, they’re easy to identify through their comparatively-long segmented abdomens and signature rear-mounted pincers.

Unfortunately, earwigs are surrounded by many myths and appocriful stories, the most notable of which is that they crawl into people’s ears at night to lay their eggs. We’re here to dispel those rumors—not only are they simply untrue but earwigs aren’t aggressive, and rarely approach humans at all, asleep or awake. While they can pinch, it’s not known to be painful and almost never punctures skin.

Where Do Earwigs Get Their Name?

Earwigs’ curious name comes directly from that wholly-untrue story about them sneaking into your ears at night. Research indicates that it’s a modernization of their Old English name, “Ear wigca,” which translates roughly to, “Ear wiggler,” or “Ear creature.” While the story lingers on the periphery of popular imagination, the name it seems, has stuck for good.

What Do Earwigs Eat?

It may come as a surprise to hear it, but earwigs can actually be of some benefit in your yard and garden. They’re omniverious, feeding on both decaying plant matter and on other insects. This can help deprive more harmful pests of places to hide and overwinter and can aid in managing the populations of more destructive insects like spider mites and aphids.

What Attracts Earwigs to Your Home?

Earwigs are mostly active at night, which is where the misunderstandings surrounding their behavior come from. Like most nocturnal insects, they’re attracted to light, so porch lights may play a role in luring them to your home. They also spend much of their time hiding and aren’t choosy as to where they do it. This means that they’re often brought indoors by accident if they’re hiding amongst wood piles, boxes, or even newspapers. Finally, earwigs may also come into your home in search of warmth during the fall and winter months.

Do Earwigs Bite?

No, earwigs do not bite. Their rear pincers may be quite large relative to their body size and look scary but in reality, earwigs pose no threat to humans at all. They’re not even known to be significant carriers of bacteria, placing them low on the totem pole of dangerous household pests.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs

They’re not dangerous, don’t bite, and are badly misunderstood—but that still doesn’t mean that you want earwigs in your house. Fortunately though, they’re quite simple to get rid of on your own. A few of our favorite techniques are as follows:

Homemade Earwig Traps

  • Dish Soap and Water: A simple solution of dish soap and water can be an effective means of earwig prevention. Just spray it in areas where you’ve noticed them crawling.
  • Rubbing Alcohol and Water: If you’d rather avoid chemical insecticides in your home, and we completely understand why, a 1:1 solution of rubbing alcohol and water will kill even the toughest earwig on contact.
  • Boric Acid Powder: Applying boric acid powder to areas of earwig activity is also an effective pesticide treatment. When using boric acid though, take care to not deploy it in areas where pests or small children will be active, as it can lead to painful skin irritation.
  • Light Traps: A dead simple light trap can be devastatingly-effective when it comes to controlling earwigs. All you have to do is fill a cup or a bucket halfway with a soap and water solution and aim a fixed light at it. Earwigs, being attracted to light, will come to investigate and subsequently fall right in!
  • Oil and Soy Sauce Traps: Strange though it may sound, an equal blend of soy sauce and oil can be a highly-effective trap as well. Remember how earwigs love to feed on decomposing vegetation? Well, soy sauce is the byproduct of fermentation (controlled rotting) soybeans so its smell has been shown to attract earwigs. Leave a small cup of the aforementioned solution out near where you’ve observed earwig activity and watch your home’s pincher bug population plummet.

Other Earwig Control Methods

  • Vacuuming: Regular vacuum cleaning in your home isn’t just a way to keep your rugs clean. Rather, it can be a very effective means of in-home pest control, sucking hidden bugs up and away from vulnerable areas of your house. Earwigs, of course, aren’t immune to this.
  • Essential Oils: Earwigs may love soy sauce but there are plenty of smells that they’re less fond of. Strong scents like eucalyptus, cinnamon, peppermint, and lemon have been shown to be effective in keeping them away, so you can apply a few drops to areas that you’ve observed them crawling.
  • Earwig Pesticide: Of course, if all else fails, chemical pesticides are a surefire solution to getting rid of earwigs quickly. As always though, take care to read the instructions thoroughly and to apply safely.
  • Professional Pest Control: Do you want to be rid of earwigs, as well as a whole host of other irritating pests for good? Well if so, professional pest control is your best bet! At BOG Pest, we’ve been in business for more than 30 years and specialize in keeping homes across the Mid Atlantic clean and safe. If earwigs or any other bug is making you uncomfortable in your own home, we’re here to help, so start today with your free quote!

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