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Earwigs are nocturnal insects that hide in dark, damp crevices of your home and garden during the day and quickly multiply into a nuisance. Here’s how to recognize the signs of an infestation, how to attack the issue yourself, and when it’s time to call the professionals.
You can easily spot an earwig by its elongated body and forceps-shaped pincers at the rear of its abdomen. Earwigs may look menacing and can emit a foul-smelling liquid if threatened, but they pose little threat to humans. Still, they may bite if trapped, and they can be devastating to your garden.
Earwigs, which are only a noticeable threat in summer, seek cool, dark, and damp areas for shelter, such as under loose boards or dense weeds. At night, they emerge to feed on plant material, aphids, insect eggs, and soft-bodied insects.
Signs of an Earwig Infestation
You might uncover earwigs in large numbers outside under mulch, in wood piles, or in other hiding places. Earwigs may seek refuge in damp areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, kitchens, and bathrooms. You might also notice the following signs of an infestation:
- Activity around outdoor lights
- Chewed leaves
- Damaged flowers
- Dead or dying plants
- Holes in fruit
- Unpleasant odor
You might spot an earwig in your garden most easily at night, but they won’t leave slime trails like slugs or snails or webbing like caterpillars.
Why Earwigs Are a Problem in Your Garden
Earwigs can benefit your garden when they feast on aphids, dead leaves, and decaying organic material, but they might damage flowers, fruit trees, and other live plants. Earwigs pose the biggest threat to seedling plants, soft fruit, and sweet corn. They often attack apricots, strawberries, raspberries, or blackberries while leaving harder fruit, such as apples, alone.
DIY Methods to Get Rid of Earwigs
You can best control earwig populations with DIY solutions such as environmental control, homemade traps, and natural deterrents.
Eliminate damp areas in your home and yard as much as possible. Clean your gutters regularly, and address any other yard drainage issues to keep rainwater away from your foundation. Also, remove leaf litter, wood piles, overgrowth, thick mulch, and other debris where earwigs might take shelter.
Inside, be sure to repair leaky faucets, clogged drains, and other sources of excess moisture. Use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels in basements or crawl spaces.
Bait empty tuna cans or shallow plastic containers with a mixture of soy sauce and vegetable oil and leave them in infested areas overnight. In the morning, empty the oil traps over a bucket of soapy water to drown any earwigs that survived the night. Refill the traps and repeat the process each night until you wake up to two or fewer trapped bugs.
You can target earwigs by sprinkling diatomaceous earth or boric acid around their entry points into the house or hiding spots. You can fill a spray bottle with dish soap and water or rubbing alcohol and water to target individual bugs. Many homeowners report success repelling earwigs with a spray made of water and vinegar in equal parts.
Commercial Products and How to Use Them
Commercial products can frequently target earwigs more effectively than home remedies and can better help you manage earwigs and other garden pests.
Commercial Earwig Traps
Store-bought earwig traps use bait or pheromones to lure earwigs into a container they cannot escape. You can strategically place these traps in areas of high earwig activity, such as near leaf piles, in garden beds, or along entry points in the house to intercept pincher bugs.
Insecticides and Pesticides
Consider insecticides and pesticides, which come in liquid, powder, or granular forms, to combat earwig infestations.
When using insecticides, it is crucial to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application, timing, and safety precautions. Always use protective gear, such as gloves and masks, when applying these products. Keep children and pets away from treated areas until the recommended waiting period has passed.
When to Call a Professional
Consider contacting a professional if your earwig infestation persists despite your best DIY efforts. Reputable pest control companies have the knowledge and expertise to handle a variety of nuisances, from wasps to ladybugs to silverfish. Experts also have access to specialized products and equipment to address severe or widespread infestations.
A professional exterminator can conduct a thorough inspection, recommend a customized treatment plan, and provide a cost range for pest control.
Preventing Future Earwig Infestations
Once you’ve resolved your earwig issue, implementing a few preventive measures will minimize the chances of a future infestation.
- Address plumbing leaks, excess humidity, and other moisture issues.
- Clean and repair gutters regularly to prevent water buildup.
- Keep garbage cans tightly sealed.
- Keep your yard free of fallen fruit and organic debris.
- Seal entry points, such as door gaps and wall cracks, with caulk.
- Spray natural repellents or commercial insecticides to deter earwigs.
- Trim vegetation away from the perimeter of your home.
If you’re struggling with an earwig problem, consider a combination of store-bought insecticides, DIY methods, and preventive measures to handle it. For more severe infestations, invest in professional pest control services from Orkin, Terminix, or another reputable provider.
How long is earwig season?
Earwig season generally lasts from late spring to early fall, but it can be longer in warmer climates. Earwigs are most active during the warm summer months as females lay their eggs in early spring and nymphs emerge in May or June.
Are earwigs hard to get rid of?
Individual earwigs are not hard to kill, but getting rid of a large infestation is a more involved process. The main challenge is that earwigs hide in dark, cramped spaces during the day, making them difficult to find.
Is it bad to have earwigs in my house?
Earwigs do not pose a direct threat to your health or safety, and they are unlikely to invade your house in large numbers. However, because they are attracted to dark, damp hiding places, their presence inside may indicate a larger problem, such as a cracked wall or leaky pipes.
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Our pest control research process starts with analyzing customer reviews on third-party websites such as the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Trustpilot, and Google Reviews. We then do a deep dive into each company’s website, service plans, and available cost information. We also secret shop the companies we review, reach out to representatives, and request quotes.
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