In the early 1900s, European explorers and settlers inadvertently brought the European earwig to both coasts of the United States. Much to the demise of many homeowners, the insect has flourished and thrived in this new location. Now, people across the nation deal with earwig infestations in their homes or gardens too often.
Not only are earwigs unsightly, but they also cause damage to plants, vegetables, and other household items. Plus, their small pincers can hurt if they clamp on to small children or adults.
But you can only get rid of earwigs once you know what they are and how to fight them. That's why we curated this in-depth guide to identifying and getting rid of earwigs at home. Read on to learn how to keep your home and garden earwig free and prevent future infestations.
What Is an Earwig?
Earwigs belong to the insect order Dermaptera. The order's name means "skin wings," and though earwigs don't often use them, they have wings.
Earwigs have two sets of wings folded beneath one another. The next time you see one, look at the center of its abdomen. You'll notice the short outer wings in that area.
These insects also have a pair of pincers at the end of their abdomens, which is their most identifiable trait. Although they have pincers, earwigs are not dangerous to humans since they do not possess any venom.
Instead, they use their pincers to defend themselves. But they also use them for offensive means, such as capturing their prey.
Earwig prey can range from other small insects to even worms. But they are omnivorous creatures. More often, they prefer to eat plant matter like leaves or soft fruits.
Often, these pests are brown or black in color and grow to about a half-inch in length. They like to live in warm and humid places such as basements, cracks in buildings, under stones or logs, and inside old tires.
What Problems Do Earwigs Cause?
Depending on the size of the infestation, earwigs can range from being a mere nuisance to a real problem. For example, earwigs feed on soft-bodied insects like aphids. Aphids alone are destructive, so one might think an earwig infestation may benefit gardens.
This is true in moderation. However, earwigs also feed on living plants like aphids. So, once there are no more aphids to munch on, they turn their attention to your garden.
A severe earwig infestation can devastate your garden's plants, flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Plus, once in your backyard, they will multiply and invade the home. Soon, you'll find earwigs in your cabinets, furniture, and storage areas.
While they won't damage your home like termites will, they are annoying. No one wants a nest of insects living in close quarters with them.
Plus, while their pincers aren't dangerous, they still hurt. Some people even report feeling itchy after earwig bites, even though they don't produce venom.
Although earwigs aren't dangerous pests, the consensus is to keep them out of our homes. You can eliminate earwig infestations in various ways, including natural remedies and commercial products.
How to Identify an Earwig
The simplest way to identify an earwig is by its appearance. European earwigs are insects -- they have six legs. They're also reddish-brown in color, and some have dark markings.
The most telling feature an earwig has is its pincers. Earwigs have two long pincers protruding from their abdomens. Unlike many other bugs with pincers, like the stag beetle, the earwig's forceps are at the opposite end of their faces.
There are other ways to identify an earwig infestation other than finding a bug. For example, you may notice more damage in your garden than usual. Gaping holes in your plants' stems, leaves, and flowers may indicate earwig activity.
Moreover, you may find evidence of earwig colonies around your house and garden. Look toward dark, damp areas like:
- Underneath logs and stones
- Amid leaf litter and debris
- Cracks in pavement or walls
- Secluded areas in basements
Earwigs thrive in warm, damp places. They also seek security from predators. So, these areas are common nesting grounds for earwig colonies.
Even if a colony isn't present, you may find their "nests." Earwigs make "nests" from small pieces of debris, dead plant matter, and other materials they gather around their living space. You may also see dark, curled frass or excrement near their nest.
Natural Methods to Rid Your Home of Earwigs
Most people prefer natural approaches to pest control. Whether you have kids or pets, chemical approaches pose health risks that often aren't worth it for such inconsequential pests.
Most homes are free from earwigs thanks to natural predators. Birds and lizards from your surroundings often take care of earwig infestations before they begin.
But, when facing an infestation, sometimes you need to do a little more to help control the earwig population. Here are some of the best natural remedies for earwig infestations.
Soap and Water
One of the simplest methods is to mix soap and water in a bucket and then spray it on the earwigs and "nests." This mixture will help to keep them away from your house and prevent them from entering the premises.
This method is also quite effective for controlling earwigs since it's safe, efficient, and readily available at home. Plus, you can use the soap and water method in conjunction with other pest control methods for a complete pest prevention solution.
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an effective and natural way to control and prevent earwig infestations. It is an absorbent powder made up of fossilized diatoms, which are microscopic aquatic organisms. This powder works to dehydrate pests, and since earwigs gravitate to moist areas, this makes it the perfect solution for their control.
To use this method, start by buying food-grade DE. You'll find swimming pool grade DE alongside the food grade DE, but we don't recommend using it. Swimming pool grade DE contains additional additives that can harm homes and gardens.
Next, sprinkle the powder around baseboards, door frames, and other areas where you've noticed earwig activity. This powder will cling to insect bodies and dehydrate them.
The DE also serves as a repellent, discouraging further earwig invasions. To ensure its effectiveness, re-apply it every couple of weeks or after heavy rainfall.
Vinegar is a natural pest control solution that you can use to control an earwig infestation. Using vinegar to control earwig infestations takes three simple steps:
- Mix 1 part vinegar with 1 part water
- Spray the solution onto infested areas
- Reapply as needed for earwig control
Vinegar helps control earwigs already in your home. But keeping up with this method also helps prevent future infestations. Vinegar acts as a natural deterrent that keeps earwigs at bay.
However, exercise caution when using this solution, as vinegar can damage some surfaces. Consider testing it on a small area before treating the entire surface.
You can also use essential oils as part of a regular pest prevention program. They provide an all-natural solution for keeping earwigs away. Eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, and tea tree oils are the most popular for earwig control.
To use these oils, mix a few drops of oil with water and spray the mixture in areas where you've seen earwigs. Not only will this help repel the pests, but it can also help prevent them from coming back.
Commercial Products to Help Exterminate Earwigs
Sometimes natural remedies aren't enough for earwig control. Using them in conjunction with commercial products can help make your earwig problem disappear faster.
There are several products on the market for earwig control that contain insecticides. You must apply these products according to the manufacturer's instructions for them to be effective.
If you don't follow the manufacturer's instructions, you may not get rid of the pests or can create harm to the environment or non-target species.
In addition, you should take caution when using these products. If spraying in places accessible to children or pets, be sure to keep them out of the area while the products dry. That way, you can control the pests without risking the vulnerable members of your family.
Another option for earwig control is using traps. Commercial traps come pre-baited with food or pheromones to attract earwigs.
Some traps are sticky, catching earwigs in their tracks. Others contain poison that the earwigs bring back to the colony, infecting and killing them all. No matter what type of trap you use, remember to keep an eye on them and replace them as needed to ensure the best results.
DIY Pest Control Solutions
DIY home pest solutions are not one size fits all. That's why tailored DIY pest control is among the best solutions for your earwig problem. Companies like Remedy specialize in customizing at-home pest control products based on location, pest type, and other factors.
DIY pest control solutions give you the best of both worlds. They customize pest control like professional services would but give you the benefits of at-home pest solutions like commercial or natural products.
If you're curious about custom DIY pest control, check out Remedy's FAQs page for more information!
Preventative Measures to Avoid Future Earwig Invasions
Earwig infestations can be challenging to manage and prevent. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to reduce the chances of earwigs invading your home again. The best preventative measures you can take for earwigs are as follows:
Earwigs gravitate to areas with high moisture levels, so keep your home dry. One effective method of reducing moisture is ensuring that pipes, drains, and gutters are in good repair and well-maintained. Also, ensure there are no leaks or standing water around the perimeter of your home.
Remove Organic Debris
Earwigs nest in organic debris around the garden and lawn. When you remove debris around the home, such as mulch, piles of leaves, and other organic matter, you remove areas for earwigs to nest. Following suit, you should also remember to clean up fallen fruits and vegetables in your garden or yard.
Seal Entry Points
Earwigs cannot infest your home if they don't have a way inside. Conduct a thorough sweep of your home for entry points where earwigs can access your living space.
Seal off any cracks or crevices in windows, doors, foundations, and other areas with caulk or weatherstripping. You can redo this once a year to ensure maximum pest prevention.
Use Pest Control Products
You can prevent earwig infestations by both natural and chemical means. Some natural remedies (vinegar, essential oils, DE) also work as pest repellants. But, chemical products designed to prevent earwig infestation may provide more potent repelling qualities.
Hiring Pest Control vs DIY Measures: How to Choose
Many homeowners find themselves at a crossroads when dealing with an earwig infestation. Should they hire professional pest control or take a DIY approach? Understanding the details and efficacy of each approach will help you make the right decision for your home.
Professional Pest Control Services
Hiring a professional pest control service has its advantages. They can provide expert advice on how to best deal with earwigs and how to prevent them from returning. Professional services also have access to more powerful chemicals and other tools to help eradicate the infestation faster.
The downside to professional pest services is that the concentrated chemicals often force you to leave your home for some time. So, you may have to find accommodations, which can be costly.
On top of that, professional pest services cost more than DIY methods. So, you end up doling out a lot more money for something you could do yourself.
DIY Earwig Control Methods
On the other hand, DIY methods are often as effective as professional pest control. Moreover, they can often be cheaper and safer for the environment.
The most significant benefit of DIY pest control is the ability to customize it using services and products like Remedy. You can tailor-make your DIY pest system to suit your needs and budget, giving you a more personalized approach to pest prevention and pest control.
When choosing between hiring a pest control service and taking a DIY approach, the choice is up to you. While professional services may be helpful for some, DIY methods from companies like Remedy offer safe, natural, and affordable pest solutions that can work as well – if not better – than professional services.
Get Started With DIY Pest Control Today
If you have an earwig infestation in your home, Remedy DIY pest solutions can help. Our products provide the necessary tools to identify and get rid of earwigs.
Additionally, our DIY pest solutions offer a variety of preventative measures to avoid future invasions of earwigs or other pests. Visit our website to curate your Remedy pest control system in four simple steps today!