How Can I Control An Earwig Infestation?

In the quiet corners of homes and the lush landscapes of gardens, a tiny yet persistent intruder often goes unnoticed – the earwig. These small, nocturnal insects have a knack for finding their way into our living spaces and wreaking havoc on our beloved plants. In this comprehensive guide, we will shed light on the often misunderstood world of earwig infestations. We will delve into their habits, explore the telltale signs of an infestation, and discuss the crucial importance of controlling these pests in our homes and gardens. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener seeking to protect your plants or a homeowner eager to reclaim your living spaces, this article aims to equip you with the knowledge and strategies necessary to effectively combat earwig infestations.

Identifying an Earwig Infestation

Earwig infestations can often go unnoticed until they reach a significant population size. Therefore, being able to identify the signs of an earwig infestation is crucial for timely intervention. 

The most obvious sign is the presence of earwigs themselves. These reddish-brown to dark brown insects, with distinctive pincers or forceps-like appendages at the rear end, are nocturnal and often hide during the day. Spotting them crawling on walls, floors, or around outdoor vegetation is a strong indication.

In gardens, earwigs can be voracious eaters and may feed on leaves, flowers, and fruits. Look for irregular holes and notched edges on plant leaves, as well as damage to fruits and vegetables.

Indoors, earwigs can damage fabrics, paper, and other materials. Check for chewed or frayed edges on paper products, curtains, or clothing. Like many insects, earwigs molt as they grow. The presence of shed exoskeletons in and around your home can be a sign of an earwig infestation. Some people have reported a musty or unpleasant odor associated with earwig infestations. If you notice such an odor in confined spaces, investigate for their presence.

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Potential Harm to Humans and Pets

Earwigs, despite their menacing appearance, are generally not harmful to humans and pets. Their pincers, the defining feature of earwigs, are primarily used for defense and territorial disputes among themselves, and they lack the strength to inflict significant harm. In most cases, if a person or pet comes into contact with an earwig and it feels threatened, it may attempt to pinch, which at worst can be a mildly uncomfortable experience but not a cause for alarm.

While earwigs are not dangerous, it’s essential to be aware of a few potential concerns. First, in rare instances, some individuals may develop skin irritation or allergies as a reaction to direct contact with earwigs. If you or your pets experience any unusual skin reactions after encountering these insects, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider or veterinarian for appropriate guidance.

Additionally, although it’s not a common occurrence, earwigs can potentially carry pathogens, making it advisable to avoid direct contact, especially if they have been crawling in unsanitary conditions. However, it’s important to note that the risk of disease transmission from earwigs is generally low.

While earwigs pose minimal direct harm to humans and pets, they can be problematic for garden enthusiasts. Their feeding habits, especially on plants and crops, can result in economic losses and damage to valuable vegetation. Thus, understanding the limited threat that earwigs pose to humans and pets allows homeowners and gardeners to focus on appropriate control and prevention strategies for these pests without undue concern for personal safety.

Prevention Measures

Preventing earwigs from infiltrating your home requires a proactive approach that focuses on eliminating the factors that attract them. Earwigs are drawn to moisture and shelter, making homes with conducive conditions more appealing to these pests. To keep them at bay, begin by addressing any sources of excess moisture. This includes fixing leaky pipes, ensuring proper drainage, and redirecting downspouts away from your home’s foundation. Outdoor lighting can also be a magnet for earwigs, so consider switching to yellow or sodium vapor lights, which are less attractive to these insects. Additionally, maintaining well-trimmed landscaping, especially near the house, and promptly removing leaf piles and debris will eliminate hiding spots. If you have compost bins, ensure they are situated at a distance from your home. By diligently following these tips, you can create an environment that is less appealing to earwigs, reducing the chances of them finding their way indoors.

Sealing Entry Points

Sealing entry points is a pivotal component of a comprehensive strategy to prevent earwig infestations within your home. This practice serves as a crucial barrier, effectively denying earwigs access to the interior. By sealing cracks, gaps, and crevices around doors, windows, and foundations, you create a formidable obstacle that hinders their entry. This proactive approach not only obstructs their intrusion but also preempts potential infestations before they gain a foothold. 

Sealing entry points contributes to moisture control within your home, reducing the conditions that might attract earwigs. By limiting their access routes, you not only discourage earwigs but also enhance the energy efficiency of your home, ultimately reducing heating and cooling costs. Combining entry point sealing with other preventive measures, such as minimizing indoor moisture and adjusting outdoor lighting, forms a holistic defense against earwig infestations, ensuring a pest-free living environment while promoting overall home comfort and well-being.

Natural Control Methods

When it comes to managing earwig populations in a garden or home, several effective natural methods can be employed, reducing the need for chemical pesticides. These environmentally friendly strategies focus on minimizing earwig numbers while maintaining a balanced ecosystem. One approach is to encourage the presence of beneficial predators that naturally prey on earwigs, such as birds, toads, and ground beetles. Providing suitable habitats, like birdhouses or ponds, can attract these helpful creatures to your garden.

Another natural method involves the use of food-grade diatomaceous earth, which can be sprinkled around areas where earwigs are active. This powdery substance is abrasive and dehydrates insects, making it a non-toxic and efficient means of controlling earwig populations. Setting up traps and barriers is another effective tactic. Rolled-up newspaper or cardboard traps placed in earwig-prone areas provide hiding spots for these nocturnal insects, making them easy to collect and remove. Additionally, copper tape or barriers can be placed around plants, as earwigs tend to avoid contact with copper.

Beer traps are a simple yet effective method for trapping earwigs. By burying small containers filled with beer in your garden with the container lip at ground level, earwigs are attracted to the scent, crawl in, and drown. Emptying and refilling these traps regularly can significantly reduce earwig numbers. Essential oils, such as cedar, neem, or lavender, can be mixed with water and sprayed in areas frequented by earwigs, acting as natural repellents. Neem oil, a natural pesticide, can be applied to plant foliage to deter earwigs and disrupt their feeding habits.

Create a Garden Environment that Discourages Earwigs

Creating a garden environment that discourages earwigs involves thoughtful practices to minimize the conditions that attract these pests. First and foremost, remove garden debris and maintain a clutter-free landscape. Earwigs seek shelter in dark, damp places, so regularly clearing away garden debris, mulch, and leaf piles reduces their hiding spots.

Proper irrigation is essential; avoid overwatering your garden. Instead, employ soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems to provide water directly to the base of plants, minimizing excess moisture that tends to attract earwigs.

Elevating potted plants and containers slightly above the ground can create obstacles that make it more difficult for earwigs to reach them. Additionally, be selective with your plant choices. Some herbs like basil and rosemary, as well as aromatic flowers such as marigolds, are known to deter earwigs.

Consider the strategic placement of vulnerable crops or ornamental plants. Raised beds or containers can provide added protection against earwig damage. Maintain tidy garden beds through regular weeding and pruning. This practice discourages earwigs from establishing a presence in your garden.

Choosing natural mulch alternatives, like gravel or crushed stone, over organic mulches such as straw or leaves, can help create an environment less favorable to earwigs. Organic mulches can provide the moist and dark conditions that these insects prefer.

Commercial Pesticides

Commercial pesticides can be a viable option for controlling earwig infestations, particularly when natural methods and preventive measures have not provided sufficient relief. Understanding the available pesticides and their effectiveness is essential for making informed choices.

Pyrethroid-based insecticides are commonly used for earwig control. They work by disrupting the nervous system of earwigs upon contact. Products containing active ingredients like cypermethrin or permethrin are effective against earwigs. Ensure thorough coverage of infested areas for optimal results.

Insecticidal dusts, such as diatomaceous earth or silica gel, are abrasive substances that can be applied to cracks, crevices, and hiding spots where earwigs are active. When earwigs come into contact with these dusts, their exoskeletons are damaged, leading to desiccation and death.

Earwig baits are formulated to attract and kill earwigs. These baits contain toxins that affect earwigs when ingested. Place baits in areas of high earwig activity but away from areas accessible to children and pets.

Liquid insecticides, like those containing pyrethroids or carbaryl, can be sprayed on surfaces where earwigs are found. These pesticides provide residual protection, killing earwigs on contact and offering longer-lasting control.

Some pest control products are available only to licensed professionals. These may include more potent insecticides or specialized treatments. Consulting with a pest control expert can help you access these products if needed.

Guidance on Safe Pesticide Application

When employing commercial pesticides to combat earwig infestations, ensuring safety for both yourself and the environment should be a top priority. To guarantee the safe application of pesticides, it is essential to adhere to the following guidelines.

Start by thoroughly reading and comprehending the instructions and precautions listed on the pesticide label. This label is a crucial resource containing vital information about the specific pest the product targets, the correct application methods, recommended safety measures, and steps to follow in the event of exposure or accidents.

To protect yourself during pesticide application, gather the necessary protective gear. This should include gloves, long-sleeved clothing, and, if stipulated by the label, a face mask. Additionally, safety goggles or glasses should be worn to safeguard your eyes while applying the pesticide.

Opt for well-ventilated conditions when using pesticides to reduce the risk of inhaling fumes. Avoid using these chemicals on windy days to prevent unintended drift that may affect non-target areas or organisms. It’s also crucial to exercise caution around children and pets during and immediately after application. Keep them away from treated areas until the pesticide has thoroughly dried or until the recommended reentry time, as specified on the label, has elapsed.

Furthermore, it’s imperative to apply pesticides precisely, focusing on areas where earwigs are active, such as cracks, crevices, or outdoor hiding spots. By minimizing unnecessary spraying in non-infested areas, you can reduce chemical exposure.

Proper storage and disposal practices for pesticides are also key. Store them in their original containers, secured in a cool, dry location inaccessible to children and pets. Ensure you dispose of empty pesticide containers according to local regulations to prevent environmental contamination.

Consider adopting an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach, combining various pest control methods, including pesticide use, to reduce reliance on chemicals. This holistic strategy prioritizes long-term pest prevention and minimal environmental impact.

If you feel uneasy or uncertain about pesticide application, it is advisable to seek professional assistance from a licensed pest control expert. They can ensure the safe and effective management of the earwig infestation, taking into account all necessary safety precautions.

Traps and Baits

DIY traps and baits are practical and cost-effective methods for capturing earwigs and reducing their numbers. These traps are straightforward to create and can be strategically placed in areas where earwigs are active. 

Mix equal parts of vegetable oil and soy sauce in a shallow container, such as a plastic or aluminum pie tin. Place the container near known earwig hideouts or garden beds. Earwigs are attracted to the scent and will crawl into the mixture, where they will drown.

Roll up several sheets of damp newspaper and secure them with rubber bands. Place these rolls near garden plants or areas with earwig activity. Earwigs seek shelter within the rolls during the day, making it easy to collect and dispose of them in the morning.

Bury a small, shallow container, such as a tuna can or yogurt cup, in the ground so that its rim is level with the soil’s surface. Fill the container with beer, which emits an enticing scent to earwigs. They will crawl in and drown in the liquid. Empty and refill the traps regularly for continued effectiveness.

Similar to the newspaper trap, earwigs are drawn to the dark, moist spaces between layers of damp cardboard. Place pieces of damp cardboard near plants or suspected earwig hideouts. Check and remove earwigs from the cardboard daily.

Cut a raw potato in half and scoop out a small hollow in each half. Place these potato halves cut-side down in your garden beds. Earwigs will take shelter in the potato halves overnight. In the morning, shake the earwigs out into a container filled with soapy water to dispose of them.

Effectiveness and Placement

DIY traps and baits are valuable components of an integrated approach to managing earwig infestations. Understanding their effectiveness and proper placement is key to maximizing their impact. While DIY traps and baits can capture a substantial number of earwigs, it’s important to recognize that they may not completely eradicate an extensive infestation on their own.

To make the most of these traps and baits, strategic placement is crucial. Position them near areas with confirmed earwig activity, such as garden beds, underneath potted plants, and along walls or foundations where earwigs may enter buildings. Opt for locations that provide shade or concealment since earwigs are nocturnal creatures that seek out dark hiding spots during the day.

Regular monitoring is essential. Check the traps and baits consistently, preferably in the morning when earwigs are more active. Empty the traps and replace or refresh the bait as needed to maintain their attractiveness to earwigs. By consistently monitoring and maintaining these traps, you can ensure their ongoing effectiveness.

While DIY traps and baits are valuable tools, it’s essential to recognize that they work best as part of a comprehensive earwig control strategy. Combining them with other preventive measures, such as maintaining a dry environment, sealing potential entry points, and encouraging natural predators, forms a well-rounded approach to effectively manage earwig infestations and maintain a pest-free environment.

Professional Pest Control

Determining the right time to enlist the services of a professional pest control provider in the case of earwig infestations is crucial for efficient and effective management. There are specific scenarios when professional intervention becomes highly advisable. 

If you’re grappling with a severe or persistent earwig infestation that proves resistant to DIY methods, it’s a clear signal to call upon the expertise of pest control professionals. These professionals possess the knowledge, experience, and specialized equipment required to address extensive earwig populations effectively.

Indoor infestations of earwigs, particularly when they occur in significant numbers, often necessitate professional assistance. Earwigs can infiltrate hard-to-reach areas within a home, making it challenging to eradicate them without expert help.

If anyone in your household experiences severe allergic reactions to earwigs, such as skin irritation or respiratory issues, it’s imperative to address the infestation promptly with the assistance of professionals who can safely remove the pests.

When your attempts at DIY earwig control have repeatedly failed to yield results, it’s a clear indication that the infestation may be more resilient or extensive than initially perceived. Pest control experts have the necessary knowledge and tools to tackle challenging situations effectively.

Commercial or agricultural properties facing earwig infestations often require professional intervention due to the larger scale and potential economic impact of the problem. In such cases, pest control professionals can implement strategies tailored to the specific needs of these properties, mitigating the risk of significant financial losses.


Effective earwig control involves a multifaceted approach that encompasses identification, prevention, and eradication. Key takeaways for successfully managing earwig infestations include recognizing the signs of an infestation, implementing natural control methods, and, when necessary, seeking professional assistance. Preventive measures such as reducing moisture, sealing entry points, and maintaining a tidy garden environment are critical in keeping earwigs at bay.