Combatting Earwigs Indoors and Out

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If fearsome-looking bugs featuring a set of nasty-looking pincers are scurrying about your home, chances are they are earwigs. While not dangerous to humans, earwigs wreak havoc on certain plants, although they also eat many “bad” bugs. Nonetheless, most people could do without their presence in their homes and yards. The best method of dealing with them is preventing their entry into your home.

Earwigs Love Moisture

Indoors or out, earwigs gravitate to moist areas. They feed at night and hang out in dark, moist places during the day.

Common Earwig Daytime Hangouts

  • Sprinkler system expansion joints
  • Drip irrigation system connectors
  • Beneath concrete slabs or larger rocks located near irrigated areas
  • Underneath loose clods of dirt
  • Beneath wood boards
  • Under densely grown vines or weeds
  • Within damaged fruit (such as peaches or apricots)
  • The underside of rotted wood

Omnivorous Earwigs

Earwigs are omnivores, and their preferred foods include:

  • Aphids
  • Mites
  • Insect eggs
  • Marigolds
  • Petunias
  • Dahlias
  • Hostas
  • Soft fruits

Indoor Earwigs

Earwigs inside the home pose no real danger to humans, despite old tales of their ear canal-crawling, brain-sucking proclivities.

Why Earwigs Come Inside

  • Arid weather conditions make it hard to find moist areas outside
  • Outdoor temperatures dip too low
  • To search for food, although little they find indoors appeals to them

How Earwigs Enter Houses

  • For earwigs, it is all about moisture, and so they may follow a moisture trail into the house
  • Boxes or household items stored in a damp area and brought inside may transport earwigs
  • Since foundation cracks often coincide with moisture, earwigs find their way in through small exterior openings

Eradicating Earwigs, Indoors and Out

Earwigs that enter homes in search of water and food often find the indoor climate hostile.

  • Most home interiors are far too dry for moisture-loving earwigs, and, as a result, they dry up and die rather quickly.
  • Sweep up or vacuum up any earwigs found indoors, but be sure to kill them or they will just come back in, given the chance.

Keeping earwigs out requires barriers and unappealing conditions (dryness).

Maintain good barriers

  • Seal both outdoor cracks as well as indoor ones (baseboards, tiles, and flooring) with caulk
  • Keep any moisture harboring items away from the home’s foundation
  • Install new or replace worn weatherstripping around doors and windows, as this keeps earwigs out and prevents light from seeping out around door edges (more on that below!)
  • Place steel wool around pipe openings beneath sinks

Yard maintenance

  • Do not overwater plants and gardens
  • Remove plant and leaf litter, woodpiles, rolled-up carpets, tarps, and pool or patio umbrellas and equipment from the home’s perimeter
  • Trim landscaping so it does not touch the house
  • Keep downspouts and drains in good working order so that they properly remove and disperse water
  • Remove ivy growing on the side of the house
  • Clean out roof gutters
  • Grade gardens and landscaping so that groundwater flows away from structures and does not pool anywhere
  • Make sure crawlspaces are ventilated so they do not become damp

Light and the Average Earwig

It seems counterintuitive, but earwigs have a natural curiosity for light. Outdoor lighting may be one culprit in attracting large numbers to your yard. With a nearby window (or even light streaming out from the inside), earwigs may find a way into your home. Consider switching to yellow or sodium vapor light bulbs, and maintain weatherstripping.

Trap Them If You Dare—or Call a Professional

As mentioned, common damp yard items can attract earwigs—but you can use this to your advantage. Provide a place that appeals to them and you may be able to get rid of a lot of them once they discover the bounty. Some people even use specialized traps filled with “attractive” concoctions containing everything from beer to the water in which tuna is packed.

Alternatively, remove the debris and lawn items that attract them. They may just stay away on their own!