The frightful looks of the earwig have made them the source of folk lore and superstition making us believe that at least they will use their pinchers to hurt us or at worst they will purposefully crawl into our ears to lay their eggs.  Of course these tales are mostly fictional.  Earwigs could like any other insect wander into an ear canal by accident but for the most part they are fairly harmless to humans.

Earwigs have on occasion pinched but typically without breaking the skin.  Most earwig pinches happen accidently when a human sits on one or comes into contact with an earwig without their knowledge.  If you happen to be pinched by an earwig, simply wash the area to protect against bacterial infections.  Generally earwigs in North America are harmless, neither harboring nor spreading infectious diseases. 

Identifying an earwig is relatively easy since few other bugs have a set of scary looking pinchers on their tails which are known as cerci.  The cerci are used to ward of enemies, to catch prey, and are important for attracting mates.  Like the tusks of an elephant, the cerci are indicators of gender with the male earwig’s being longer and more curved.

Female earwigs will lay 20-60 eggs in an underground chamber just a few inches under the soil.  The eggs hatch in about a week and the young nymphs appear as miniature versions as they go through several molting stages before reaching adulthood 10 weeks later.  Both young and adult earwigs require a moist environment to survive.

Earwigs are primarily nocturnal, feeding at night.  They eat anything from insects to decomposing plant material to live plants including field crops.  Plants can become ragged overnight, with leaves appearing jagged and full of holes.  Most often this occurs after rainy weather which forces the earwigs to find shelter by climbing up into the plants and leaves. 

During the day earwigs find shelter under organic matter such as mulch, leaf litter, or any dark and damp area such as underneath rocks, potted plants, and sidewalks and near foundations.  You can often find earwigs clustered together in large numbers because they aren’t territorial and tend to find the same hiding places.

Because earwigs tend to congregate together they can also produce large populations rather quickly.  Since earwigs do not breed indoors, any sign of earwigs within a home usually indicates an infestation on the perimeter of the house. 

If earwigs are present in your home it is usually because they have been inadvertently brought in or are seeking a more hospitable environment either because the weather is too cold or their normal shelter has become too dry. 

There are some ways to prevent earwig populations from becoming a problem on your property.  Because they are attracted to moisture you can look for ways to eliminate damp conditions around crawl spaces, faucets, vents, and along foundations.  Make sure that gutters and spouts direct rain water away from the foundation.  Make sure that all entry points such as doors, windows, and pipes are sealed with caulk or weather stripping.  Creating a clean, dry border in the immediate vicinity of the home is your best defense.  Attracting birds to your yard is also another natural way to reduce earwig populations.

At Organic Solutions Inc., we can treat the problem areas around the foundation of your home and outbuildings to limit earwig populations and keep them from getting inside your home.  If you would like an estimate for insecticide that will take care of earwigs, spiders, and other insects, contact us today.  
We can be reached by email,, or by phone, 208-884-8986.

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