image of an earwig

Earwig Control: Protect Your Home

Appearance

What Do Earwigs Look Like?
earwig illustration
Size: Regardless of species, earwigs range in length from about 1/4 to 1 inch (6 to 25 mm). European earwigs tend to grow as long as 5/8 inches (16 mm).

Color: Most species range from brown to black in color, while the common European earwig typically appears reddish-brown with yellow-brown legs.

Characteristics: Earwigs are long, narrow, and flat. Their most notable feature is the forceps-shaped cerci that extend from the abdomen. Males tend to have curved cerci whereas females possess straight cerci.

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Facts

  • Earwigs get their name from the unfounded superstition that the pests crawl into the ears of sleeping humans in order to bore into the brain.
  • While the insects exhibit no such behavior, they are still prominent household pests throughout the world.
  • Of the 2,000 known species of earwigs worldwide, 22 occupy the United States.
  • Many species have gravitated toward the South, though the common European earwig is found throughout the Mid-Atlantic states and Canada.

Food

What Do Earwigs Eat?
Earwigs enjoy a varied diet that mostly consists of plant and animal matter.

The omnivorous pests regularly consume:

Biology

Earwigs mate in the late summer or fall, the female will lay 30 to 55 eggs. Depending on the climate and weather of the area the eggs hatch between 20 and 70 days. Newly born earwigs are called nymphs. Developing earwigs will reach adulthood in August or September, when they will mature and start to reproduce.
Read more about the earwig life cycle here

Detection

  • Smell: Crushed or otherwise disturbed earwigs release an odorous yellow-brown liquid.
  • Evening activity: Earwig activity often occurs at night.
  • Plant damage: May notice adult earwigs burrowed in the soil around plants, which may be missing parts of their leaves as a result of the feeding habits of the pests.
  • Read more about signs of an earwig infestation here

Problems Caused by Earwigs

  • Foliage damage: Earwigs nibble on and damage the leaves and flowers of plants
  • Plant damage: The damage caused by adult earwigs is not enough to kill or seriously harm plant life, but the insects are capable of creating long-term problems related to the health and vitality of vegetation.
  • Nuisance: Humans tend to find the pests annoying and even frightening or repulsive.
  • Smell: Earwigs may emit a foul odor and frequently pilfer supplies of fruits and vegetables.

Prevention Tips

  • Exclusion: Even with the use of screens and other barriers, earwigs prove difficult to keep out of buildings.
  • Remove hiding spots: The pests frequently take refuge and mate under boards, in tree holes and under bark, beneath stones, and the like.
  • Remove nesting sites: While it is difficult to eliminate all potential nesting sites, removing piles of leaves, grass clippings, and similar debris is a good place to start.
  • Moisture: To reduce the level of moisture in and around the home, residents should fix leaky pipes and replace poorly positioned downspouts and broken irrigation systems.

Tips for Removal from Home

How do I get rid of them?
Once an infestation has already been established, targeted pesticide applications will need to be used.

Call the professionals
Pest control professionals may also be contacted for information and assistance if the infestation becomes uncontrollable and large enough to require the application of professional products.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

Call for service: (877) 250-3857