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How to Identify and Get Rid of Earwigs

Protect your home or business from earwigs by learning techniques for identification and control.

Earwig illustration
Order Dermaptera
Dark red-brown
5-16 mm
Pincher-like appendage

Earwigs Treatment

How do I get rid of earwigs?

What Orkin Does

There are over 20 different earwig species that can be found in the United States. These pests got their names due to the myth of earwigs crawling into people's ears while they are sleeping and laying eggs in the brain. Thankfully this is not true, although there have been cases of earwigs being found in the ear.

How do you get rid of earwigs? Start by making sure there aren't piles of wood, leaves, and rocks around the home to help keep these pincher bugs away. Earwigs like to stay around mulch and vegetation so it's important to keep the area around your home clean. Excess moisture, in shady or damp areas, can also attract earwigs.

Orkin Pros are trained to help get rid of earwigs and similar pests that invade homes. Since every yard or home is unique, the Orkin Pro will design an earwig treatment program for your situation.

Keeping pests out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive Points of Service process is a continuing cycle of five critical steps.

  • We Investigate: We’ll inspect your home from top to bottom, inside and out, for current or potential earwig infestations.

  • We Protect: We’ll treat the perimeter of your structure with the appropriate materials, remove all earwig habitats and use the safest methods available.

  • We Fortify: We’ll do everything we can to keep earwigs out--seal, caulk, plug, and secure gaps and cracks.

  • We Keep Watch: We’ll treat the interior of your home and install pest monitors in critical areas such as kitchens, baths, utility rooms, and garages.

  • We Report: We’ll always provide a detailed report of services rendered and recommendations to help keep your home free of earwigs and other pests.

  • We Follow Up: We’ll stay in touch between our regularly scheduled visits and respond to any immediate needs.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep earwigs, and other pests, in their place...out of your home or business. For more information on how to get rid of earwigs, call your local Orkin branch today.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Earwigs

What do earwigs look like?

Earwigs have elongated flat bodies that are carrot-shaped and usually brown, black, and reddish in color. They have antennae, and 6 legs and are most recognized for the pinchers at the bottom of their abdomen.

  • Forceps: Earwigs are odd-looking insects that have pinchers or forceps protruding from the abdomen, giving them the nickname "pincher bugs". These are somewhat intimidating looking but they are not poisonous, and they do not spread disease. Earwig will usually only pinch humans if they feel threatened.

  • Size: Depending on the species, adults range in size from 5-25 mm.

  • Wings: Some adults may be winged or wingless. Those that do have wings usually have two pairs of wings. Dermaptera means “skin wing” due to the leathery appearance of the wings. The hind wings typically fold under the front wings. Some earwigs can fly in short bursts.

Where do earwigs live?

As with any other type of insect with multiple species, biology and habits vary. Most active at night, earwigs hide during the day in damp areas, primarily under rocks or mulch in flowerbeds. Most types of earwigs generally prefer wet areas that are cooler and undisturbed. Earwigs can be a serious garden pest if conditions are right. If there is adequate ground cover, wet soil, and food, the earwigs will do well. They are known to create small burrows during the winter.

What do earwigs eat?

Earwigs typically feed on live sprouts or decaying vegetation and, in rare cases, some species are predators. Read more about what earwigs eat.

Are earwigs fast?

Earwigs are relatively fast moving. They run away quickly when the ground litter is moved, uncovering them.

Are earwigs nocturnal?

Earwigs are active at night. During the day they hide in cracks in damp areas. They live under rocks and logs and in mulch in flowerbeds. Earwigs eat plants and insects.

Are earwigs attracted to light?

Earwigs are attracted to lights. They can become a nuisance on porches and patios on summer evenings. In the morning they will be gathered under things like cushions that were left outside overnight.

What are the signs of earwigs?

Homeowners often find earwigs in areas where there is water – kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries. Earwigs can also find their way into bedrooms and family rooms. They turn up in almost every part of the house, but earwig infestations are rare.

Do earwigs lay eggs?

Female earwigs typically lay between 30 and 50 eggs in burrows during the spring but actual numbers depend on species. Unlike other insects, a female earwig will tend to her eggs until they hatch. After hatching, the nymphs undergo four to five molts until they become adults. Immature earwigs (nymphs) resemble the adults except they do not have wings. Read about an earwig's life cycle.

More Resources

Dig Deeper on Earwigs

Visit the Orkin Pest Library to learn how to identify and control other pests.
Explore Our Pest Library

Bugs That Look Like Earwigs

Difference Between Earwig and Cockroach

Earwig vs. cockroach. What's the difference? Learn more about these insects and their traits.

Difference Between Earwigs and Silverfish

Silverfish vs. earwig. Learn about the similarities and differences between these two bugs.

Difference Between Earwigs and Spiders

Do spiders and earwigs have similarities? What makes these two insects different? Find out more about the difference between earwigs and spiders.

Difference Between Earwigs and Termites

Learn about earwigs vs termites and how these bugs compare against one another. Earwigs usually won't cost you thousands in repair costs for your home but termites definitely can.

Earwigs In Home

How do I keep earwigs out of my house?

Having pests in the home can be frustrating and getting rid of earwigs in the home can be challenging. Check out these tips on keeping earwigs out of the home.

Why do I have earwigs in my apartment or home?

Like most pests, earwigs are looking for shelter and a source of food to survive. See what may be attracting these pests into your home and how to get rid of earwigs.

Earwig Infestation

Earwigs are normally outside insects and rarely infest a home in large numbers. Learn more about what you can do if you have an earwig infestation.

Can earwigs live in house plants?

House plants provide the perfect shelter and food for earwigs so finding them under the pots or in the soil can be common. Find helpful tips on how to get rid of earwigs from your house plants.

Earwig Facts

Are earwigs dangerous or poisonous to humans?

Earwigs look scary with their pinchers but do they have poison that can be harmful? Learn more about these pests and whether they are actually dangerous.

Do earwigs bite people?

If you see an earwig, it is best to be cautious around them. These pests are known to bite to protect themselves if they feel threatened. See what you should do when you see an earwig.

What do earwigs eat?

Earwigs are looking for shelter and food like all other pests. See what attracts earwigs and how you can help prevent them from coming back to your home.

What do earwigs eggs look like?

Earwig eggs are very small and can be difficult to find. Learn more about earwig eggs and what you can do if you find them.

Earwig Larvae

Learn more about earwig larvae and the different stages it takes to become an adult earwig.

Do earwigs have wings and do they fly?

Although some earwigs may have wings, most earwigs cannot fly.

What are earwig pincers?

You probably know earwigs due to their scary pincers on their abdomen. Learn more about earwig pincers and what they are used for.

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