How To Get Rid of Earwigs

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Earwigs are vicious-looking creatures. They have pinchers and six legs that can make them the thing of nightmares. 

Having these critters walking inside your house or all over your yard is not ideal.

They can cause serious damage to your garden and your belongings if you don’t manage infestations. 

In this post, I will go over how you can prevent earwig infestations and how you can get rid of them once and for all. 

Let’s dive in.

Identification: What Do Earwigs Look Like?

pincher bugs on table

Earwigs are quite easy to distinguish because they don’t resemble any other species found in homes. In some cases,  they can be confused with silverfish but upon closer inspection they are quite easy to differentiate. 

Earwigs have

  • Flattened bodies 
  • Long, bead like antenna
  • 2 large pincers at the end of their abdomen 
  • ¾ of an inch long 
  • Redish-brown color – abdomen tends to be a dark red-brown color. The thorax tends to be a lighter brown color. Small heads tends to have a red brown color. 
  • Earwig nymphs look exactly like adults except they 
  • Wing pads between their thorax and abdomen

What Attracts Earwigs?

Three things will attract earwigs to your home. 

  • shelter 
  • moisture 
  • food 

Shelter / Habitat

Earwigs are like other insects and pests that invade homes. They are in search of habitat or shelter.

Earwigs prefer to live in warm, damp, undisturbed areas. They tend to live outdoors under rocks, potted plants, mulch, leaf litter, or furniture.

If you wind earwigs inside your home, it’s likely because they are looking for shelter from the cold or moisture to survive the dry weather.

Moisture

Earwigs are highly attracted to moisture. If there is moisture or sources of water around your home, this will attract earwigs.

Some common moisture sources that often attract earwigs include sprinklers, leaking pipes, broken downpipe or gutter, mulch, and flooded grass/soil.

Food

The final reason that earwigs live around your home is that there is a food source that they can survive on.

The diet of earwigs is flexible. They can survive on a wide variety of food sources. They prefer to eat dead or decaying organic material.

If there are potential food sources inside or outside your home, this will attract earwigs. Earwigs especially enjoy it when the source of water and food are near one another.

Signs That You Have Earwigs

Earwigs are small insects that are often hard to identify unless you see like earwigs crawling around. 

Some key signs that you have an earwig infestation include: 

  • Live earwigs 
  • Dead earwigs 
  • Leaves and flowers with bite marks
  • Earwig excrement  – look like small, black coffee grounds
  • Foul Smell – earwigs secret a substance when they die or when they are frightened 

How To Get Rid of Earwigs

1. Use Insecticides

If your earwig infestation is primarily outdoors, applying insecticides is a great way to eliminate the earwigs.

Insecticides such as Suspend and Taurus SC are great broad range insecticide that is effective against earwigs.

You can apply insecticides liberally to your yard and the surface of your home.

If you have a garden with edible plants, you might want to avoid using insecticides on these plants or portions of your garden.

I highly recommend applying the insecticide to three feet of the ground along the foundation of your home and three feet of the wall itself.

This will eliminate any earwigs trying to enter your home and keep your garden free of harmful insecticides.

You can use both liquid and granular insecticides to get rid of earwigs.

Granular insecticides are a great option if you have a large yard.

You can spread the granules through your yard and then use your sprinklers or water hose to spray the granules and allow them to drench into the soil.

The advantage of insecticides is that they kill earwigs, eggs, and any adults or nymphs in the area.

2. Use Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural dust that will break down the exoskeleton of earwigs and cause them to die.

DE is slow-acting dust that will kill earwigs after 2-4 days of them coming in contact with the dust.
It’s important to note that effective earwigs come in direct contact, and the DE must remain dry.

When applying DE as dust, you want to make sure to put it in areas that earwigs will walkthrough.

Some great places to apply DE include the base of plants, along the foundation of your home, just before any source of water that may be attracting earwigs.

Finally, you can also add DE in a slurry form. This involves diluting DE in water and spraying this solution on your desired locations.

Using a slurry method is faster, but it’s only effective after the solution has dried completely.

3. Use Light Traps

You can use the earwigs attractiveness to light to your advantage. To do this, you need a small light and a bowl.

Place the light and bowl on the ground and point the light directly at the bowl. You want a bowl that the earwigs will be able to climb into.

If you’re doing this outside, I recommend doing it over the soil so you can dig a hole to make the bowl flush with the ground.

Making the bowl flush with the ground will improve the effectiveness of the light trap.

Inside the bowl, you can use any liquid combination as long as it doesn’t repel the earwigs.

A common combination includes water and dish soap.

The light will attract the earwigs to the bowl, and once they fall in, they will drown in the water and soap solution.

This method is also effective if you have earwigs inside your home. You can turn off all your light at night and use this to attract all the earwigs out of hiding.

4. Soy Sauce and Oil Traps

This is another great way you can get rid of the earwigs around your home using household items.

This method involves mixing soy sauce and olive oil or any other cooking oil in a plastic cup.

Warp the lid of the cup with plastic wrap and poke holes large enough for an earwig to enter.

Then dig small holes in your soil to make these flush with the ground. The soy sauce will attract the earwigs to the trap.

They will fall into the trap, and the oil will stop them from getting out.

These traps are great to use around your garden. You can bury several of these traps around your garden to prevent earwigs from attacking your cherished plants.

5. Vacuuming

Vacuuming is a very effective way to get rid of earwigs both indoors and outdoors. If you see any earwigs inside your home, all you need to do is vacuum them up. 

If you do see earwigs in a particular room of your home, I recommend inspecting that room thoroughly. 

There are likely more hiding. 

Some great places to check indoors include

  1. Clutter 
  2. Behind or under furniture furniture
  3. Under boxes or storage containers 
  4. Inside drawers 
  5. Between books or other items stacked closely together
  6. Under boxes or other items 
  7. Under rugs ad doormats 

Keep your vacuum handy when you clean, and it will allow you to eliminate any earwigs quickly. 

You can do the same outdoors if you are using a wet-dry vacuum. 

When inspecting outdoors, you can check: 

  • Garden 
  • Under potted plants 
  • Near sources of water 
  • Under welcome mats 
  • Around the foundation of your home 
  • Disrupt the top layer of soil using a rake to scare any earwigs out 
  • Under stones or piles of leaves 

To prevent the earwigs from getting out of the vacuum, you can add a small layer of water and dish soap to the canister. 

This will trap and drown all the earwigs that you vacuum. 

6. DIY Earwig Spray

Using harsh insecticides is not always ideal when you have children or pets inside your home. 

An alternative is creating your own insecticide spray for earwigs. There are everyday household items that you can use to kill earwigs. 

There are two different solutions you can use to get rid of earwigs: essential oil or alcohol. 

 

Essential Oil Earwig Spray 

  • 2 ounces water 
  • 20-25 drops citrus essential oil such as orange or lemon 
  • 10-15 drops peppermint or clove essential oil 

Shake well before spraying and spray directly on earwigs you encounter in your home or outside. 

The benefit of essential oils is that there is plenty of research regarding essential oils and their effectiveness against a wide variety of insects. 

 

Alcohol and Water Earwig Spray 

  •  1 cup Alchohol (70% ethanol)
  • 1 cup water 

Mix well and spray directly on any earwigs you encounter. 

How To Prevent Earwigs Indoors

1. Seal Cracks and Crevices

Earwigs are small and thin. This means that they can enter your home through small cracks and crevices.

To prevent earwigs from entering your home, you want to seal any cracks and crevices you might have around your home.

The easiest way to seal all entry points is using caulk.

There are some key areas you want to focus on when inspecting your home for cracks and crevices

  • Door sills
  • Window sills
  • Around the foundation
  • Pipe entry points
  • Window frame
  • Door frame

2. Weatherstrip your Home

It’s also important that you weatherstrip your home to prevent earwigs from entering your home through small gaps.

One of the most common ways that earwigs enter homes is under doors. Without proper weather sealing or a door sweep, earwigs can enter quickly through any door or window.

Installing door sweeps and weatherstripping your door and window frames will prevent earwigs from entering your home easily.

3. Use Dehumidifiers To Keep Humidity Low

Earwigs like to live in areas that are high in humidity. One way to prevent earwigs from coming back is to make the environment as unappealing as possible.

You can do this by reducing the humidity level inside your home or key rooms that are high in humidity.

To do this, I recommend using a dehumidifier and setting it to 60% or lower.

You can place humidifiers in key rooms that are high humidity, such as:

  • Basements
  • Attics
  • Garages
  • Kitchens
  • Restrooms
  • Storage Sheds

How To Prevent Earwigs Outdoors?

1. Remove Mulch

Mulch is a perfect environment for earwigs. It provides earwigs with shelter and moisture.

As an alternative to mulch, you can use stones or pebbles on the surface of your yard. This will make it hard for earwigs to hide and reduce the amount of moisture trapped on the surface.

2. Keep Your Yard Well Maintained

One of the best ways to prevent earwigs from infesting your yard is to keep your yard well maintained. 

Keeping your yard well maintained will reduce the number of hiding spots that are available for earwigs. 

It will also reduce moisture buildup in your yard. 

When cleaning your yard, you want to make sure that you

  • Remove all piles of leaves 
  • Discard fallen branches and logs 
  • Keep grass and bushes trimmed 
  • Store firewood properly – away from your home, off the ground, and in a sealed storage area 
  • Remove all vegetation away from the foundation of your home

3. Eliminate Moisture Issues

If there are any moisture issues around your home, you want to make sure that you address them. 

Some common moisture issues include:

  • Leaking pipes 
  • Broken sprinklers
  • Overwatering 
  • Broken gutters or downspouts 
  • Poor or missing drainage system 
  • Ungraded surface causes pools of water 
  • Open bodies of water 

It’s important that you take steps to eliminate any moisture issues. One of the best ways to eliminate drainage issues is to install a simple drainage system. 

You can do with by installing french drains or downspout drains to lead water away from your home. 

4. Clean Gutters and Dowspipes

Cleaning your gutters, downpipes, and splash blocks is important. These can become very dirty in many cases, and debris can end up trapped inside or just outside of your downspout.

It’s important that these areas are cleaned properly. If these are not well maintained, they can create a perfect habitat for earwigs.

They offer decaying materials and moisture for earwigs to survive.

5. Change Lightbulbs or Reduce Light Fixtures

Earwigs are attracted to light. One way to prevent them from living outside your home is by reducing the number of light fixtures you use.

Rather than leaving light fixtures on all night, you can use motion-activated lights.

These will give you the light you need only when you need it. These will not attract as many earwigs as keeping your porch light or fence light on all night.

As an alternative, you can also consider switching the type of light bulbs you use.

LED lights and sodium lights are less attractive to earwigs than other types of lightbulbs.

High-pressure sodium lights are considered an outdated technology. While LED lights are advanced, they do tend to attract more insects than sodium lights.

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