Have you spotted a small insect with pincers in your home or garden? Earwigs, often called “pincher bugs”, can look alarming. In reality they are one of the most common household pests around. While they are relatively harmless to humans, they will happily eat their way through your plants or hide out in your home. Let’s take a look at how to get rid of earwigs quickly and easily.
How to Spot Earwigs in the House:
The most obvious sign of an earwig infestation is of course spotting the insects in your house. You’ll be able to identify an earwig by its characteristic pincers and two antennae. These little brown bugs are generally about ½ inch long.
While they look a little alarming, earwigs are not dangerous for humans. They use their pincers for self-defense, and while they could pinch a human it is rare and unlikely to cause any damage.
A strong foul smell is another telltale sign of earwigs. When scared they can secrete a strong-smelling substance, helping you to identify where the bugs are. You should also look in areas that are damp, dark, and cool. These bugs live outside so if they are in your home, it’s likely because they are looking for food and water. You should check basements, bathrooms, and any place with a leak or water build up.
Note that earwigs tend to be relatively solitary. You will likely not find a full infestation in your home because they don’t have a colony. If you do have high numbers, it is because the environment is hospitable for them.
How to Get Rid of Earwigs in the House:
- Eliminate any environments that would attract them. Make sure that you don’t have any leaks and check dark areas. They are nocturnal, so places where they would hide during the day will be attractive.
- Set a light trap. Earwigs are attracted to bright lights at night, and you can use this tendency to set a simple dish soap and water trap. Point a light at a bucket or dish and leave it out overnight.
- Set a scent trap. Earwigs will be attracted to the smell of olive oil and soy sauce. Place the trap near where you’ve seen earwigs or where they may live and leave it for them to climb in.
- Use an indoor pesticide to eliminate earwigs quickly. If you want to get rid of them in the most efficient way or you have more than a few earwigs, consider an indoor pesticide. Cover the area where you’ve seen earwigs and make sure that children and pets cannot access any area where pesticide was used.
- Prevent future earwigs from entering your home. Use an indoor pesticide perimeter to create a barrier around doors, windows, and baseboards where they may enter.
How to Spot Earwigs in the Garden:
While earwigs are generally harmless indoors, the same cannot be said of earwigs living in your garden. Earwigs will eat flowers, vegetables, and any other leafy plant. They are nocturnal, so most of their damage will be done at night. If you start to notice ragged edges or holes in the leaves of your garden, earwigs may be to blame.
They seek out dark and moist areas, so start by identifying possible environments where they would live. These include compost piles, wood piles, and any area with piled yard waste or mulch. Piles of dead leaves or dying vegetation will also be popular.
You should also check external pipes and drains around the house. These are common entry points for earwigs making their way into the home from their garden habitat. Gutters with accumulated leaves are also the perfect home for an earwig.
How to Get Rid of Earwigs in the Garden:
- Just like with indoor earwigs, the first step is to make sure you have a clean yard and have done whatever possible to eliminate environments where earwigs would live.
- Fix any leaky water sources, including drains and pipes connected to the home.
- Clean out all gutters and dispose of any dead leaves or plant debris around your garden and home.
- Add barriers to your garden. Earwigs cannot travel very far on their own, so adding a physical barrier like a border of gravel or sand can be enough to keep them out.
- Set a light trap. Just as you would indoors, try setting a trap with water and soap, using a nightlight to draw them in.
- Attract earwig predators to your garden. This could be as simple as putting up a bird feeder or bath. More birds = fewer earwigs to eat your plants.
- Use pesticides sparingly. While you may need to use pesticides to control earwigs, keep in mind that this could also kill insects like ladybugs bugs and butterflies. Use pesticide primarily in areas where you’ve spotted earwigs and in areas where they are likely to live.
How to Prevent Earwigs:
While earwigs are a very common pest, there are some steps that you can take to prevent earwigs from returning repeatedly. The first step will be to maintain a dry environment whenever possible. Do your best to eliminate any environment where you’ve found them in the past.
Check your home inside and out for all leaky faucets and drains. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts are kept clean and that they point away from the home. Remove all garden waste and make sure that there aren’t any spots where rain water is accumulating.
Earwigs are attracted to lights at night. If you have garden or porch lights, switch them out for sodium lights instead of regular bulbs. Sodium light bulbs have a different hue than the standard blue wavelength and are less likely to attract insects.
If the problem is extensive then you may want to consider wider pesticide use. Spraying pesticide over the surface of your lawn and garden. Remember to water these areas immediately after using the pesticide so that it can seep into the ground. This will prevent earwigs from laying eggs in these areas.