Despite their creepy looking pincers and the old myth of crawling into people’s ears, earwigs, also called pincher bugs, are pretty harmless. They don’t sting, aren’t venomous, and their pincers—while scary looking—won’t do much damage to humans. And thankfully no, they don’t actually crawl inside your ears and eat your brain! But they can still be a nuisance, especially if they find their way into your home or are destroying the plants in your garden.
Earwigs are nocturnal creatures that hide in cracks or under leaf or wood debris during the day. They’re drawn to moisture and thrive in warm and humid climates. They usually breed and live outside, but will come into homes when the outside environment is too dry or cold. They also live in large populations, which can be problematic if they decide to take up residence in your house or nibble on all the leaves in your garden.
Luckily there are multiple natural and chemical ways to prevent earwigs from living in your home or in your garden. The best way to completely eliminate earwigs is to use several of the methods listed below, mixing prevention and removal. Here are our tips on how to get rid of earwigs.
In This Article
1. Get Rid of Their Hiding Places
The first step to getting rid of earwigs is to stop them from entering your home in the first place. Earwigs love to hide in dark, damp locations and can slip into your house through cracks in the foundation. You want to create a dry and empty border around the exterior of your home to discourage them from visiting. Make sure any mulch, wood piles, dead leaves, or other organic decomposing matter is kept away from the foundation and check to make sure any gutters and downspouts are draining away from the house.
2. Repair Holes in Screens and Fix Water Leaks
Once your foundation is cleared from any earwig friendly hiding spots, seal any cracks or holes around doors, windows, and screens so they can’t wander in from the outside. You’ll also want to check for and repair any water leaks, since humidity and dampness will attract them. A dehumidifier may help dry out a damp basement or crawl space, where earwigs are often found.
3. Use a Natural Earwig Killer/Deterrent
If you see the occasional earwig crawling around inside your home, it’s easy to sweep or vacuum them up and dispose of them. You don’t want to squish these bugs since some species of earwigs release a foul smell as a way to protect themselves from predators. Needless to say, you won’t want your house to smell like that!
For more intense infestations both inside and outside, you can use a solution of equal parts rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle and spray directly on the earwigs. The alcohol will pierce through their exterior and kill them quickly.
Or you can use a product like Sluggo Plus which is wildlife and pet safe, as well as approved for organic gardening. Always be sure to read directions and warnings before using. To get rid of earwigs in your garden, you can also use a food grade diatomaceous earth powder and sprinkle it around perimeter of your garden to kill and repel the earwigs.
4. Use Earwig Traps
Another way to get rid of earwigs is to use traps. One option is to roll up a slightly damp newspaper or paper towel tube and leave it around your garden or in a humid or damp area of your home where you’ve seen the earwigs. Set the traps in the evening and wait for these nocturnal bugs to crawl into them.
If you’re setting the trap inside, check in the morning to see how many have been caught. If you use the trap outside, wait a few days for the earwigs to get settled in the newspaper. You can shake them out into a pail of soapy water to kill them.
5. Apply a Chemical Insecticide or Call a Professional Service
There are many chemical insecticide products on the market that are specifically formulated to target earwigs. Remember to be careful when using chemicals around children or pets. You may want to use a more natural option if you’re going to be spraying a garden intended for food, or inside your home. Read the ingredients and warnings on all chemical insecticides to see if they are right for you to use.
Exterior chemical insecticides are best used in the spring and summer months to kill and repel earwigs. Spray the exterior of your home’s foundation and in crawl spaces and garages. You can also spray inside your home using an aerosol spray targeted at earwigs.
If you simply don’t have the time or energy to deal with an earwig infestation, you can hire a professional exterminators to come and take care of the problem for you. Even if earwigs aren’t the biggest threat in the bug world, they can still be a problem when trying to have a clean home or thriving garden. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to easily get rid of them on your property.