How to Get Rid of Earwigs in Your House

  • How to get rid of earwigs in your house? While earwigs (also known as pincher bugs) have a poor reputation in our societies, they’re worth getting to know a little better.
  • Before you decide to get rid of earwigs, get familiar with their lifestyle. Despite the unpleasant looks of these small insects, their presence may be beneficial to your household. For example, earwigs eat decaying organic matter and other insects such as sowbugs and mites. 
  • Keep reading to learn how to deal with earwig infestation or prevent earwigs from inhabiting your house. 

Quick facts about earwigs

First, let’s debunk the most popular myth regarding these annoying minor pincher bugs.  

Earwigs don’t intentionally crawl into people’s ears while they sleep to lay their eggs or bore into their brains with their fierce pincers. While the first part is technically possible, the entire scenario is unlikely. Of course, any bug can accidentally fly or crawl into a person’s ear, but it doesn’t mean that it will cause harm. 

“Hundreds of years ago, the early Europeans shared terrifying stories about earwigs, which have been passed along through the centuries”Environmental Pest Control explains the origins of this widespread myth. 

Their name gives us another clue of where the myth began about these common pests crawling into your ears while you sleep. The bug’s name comes from the Old English words ear wicga, which roughly translates to “ear wiggler” or “ear creature.”

The European earwig was first documented in Seattle in 1907 and has thrived and spread across the continent since then.

Earwigs prefer to keep away from people and won’t attack them if not provoked. Picher bugs aren’t actually capable of causing real harm to people. Instead, they use their pincers for mating, reproducing, and hunting for food.  

Earwigs come from the order Dermaptera or ‘skin wings,’ which refers to the leather-like texture of their forewings. Also, earwigs’ hind wings resemble the shape of a human ear, which may explain the roots of the above myth. 

Tip: The peak of earwig activities is in the nighttime. So if you suspect earwig activity, pay attention to nocturnal sounds and movements around the house. 

Curious to know more? Discover these “Weird and Unbelievable Facts About Earwigs” on Blog Nature

Why do earwigs enter your house?

As a rule of thumb, earwigs are garden pests. 

These small insects like 

  • dark, 
  • warm, and
  • humid places;

Earwigs commonly enter people’s houses through cracks and crevices. For example, they will find gaps around doors that are not appropriately sealed and enter through window screen holes or gaps in the house’s foundations.

When in the house, we’ll usually find earwigs in cracks and crevices near moisture. You can find them in under-sink cabinets, in house potted plants, stacked newspapers, under carpeting in places where it often gets wet, and around baseboards in kitchens and bathrooms.

In general, earwigs will look for warm and damp areas, be it bathroom, kitchen, damp basement, or laundry rooms.

Important: In most cases, if an earwig entered your house, it either wandered in by mistake, or it may be too dry outside, and what it wants to do is seek shelter with moisture.

While visually annoying, earwigs (not just earwigs but also other pests, such as boxelder bugs) are nuisance bugs. They aren’t harmful to humans, and they don’t transmit diseases or cause damage to walls or furniture. Also, not all earwigs do this, but some emit a foul odor as a defensive strategy.

What’s more, our omnivorous earwigs can be perceived as beneficial outside your home. 

They eat both bugs (including their eggs and larvae) and plants. Earwigs feed on mites, aphids, slugs, nematodes, spiders, and other soft-bodied insects. They can even eat other earwigs. They also feed on decaying organic matter (think dead plants, dead leaves, and dead insects). 

If earwigs cannot find what they like most, they feed on living garden plants, often causing damage.

One of the common ways to repel earwigs is by removing plant debris and leaf litter in your garden in the first place. 

Prevent earwigs

So, how not to attract earwigs? How do you keep them at bay?

To keep earwigs from coming into your house, ensure gutters and downspouts are clear and adequately draining away from the house. You want to prevent excess moisture build-up that could attract earwigs. 

Seal cracks and crevices around your house to reduce the number of crawl spaces. Inspect foundation vents for leaks, gaps, or tears in screens.

What else can you do to make sure earwig infestation won’t occur in your house?

Move mulch or overgrown vegetation away from the sides of your home, creating a “moat” of dry soil; earwigs aren’t likely to cross it.

It’s good to use a dehumidifier in your house’s damp or poorly ventilated spaces.

How to get rid of earwigs in your house? Another proven method to get rid of earwigs is using a few drops of essential oils. 

Which essential oil will deter pests?

As suggested by How to Murder Pests, you should check out a few drops of:

  • eucalyptus,
  • cinnamon,
  • lavender,
  • rosemary,
  • clove,
  • basil,
  • peppermint;

Kill earwigs

Let’s say you’ve found earwigs inside your house and you don’t like it. How to get rid of earwigs in your house?

How to get rid of earwigs in your house? There are three ways to deal with an earwig in your house. You can use

  • an earwig pesticide (if you’re using this method indoors, ensure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and are aware of the safety precautions from the labeling of the package),
  • traps, and
  • natural methods, such as organic boric acid and food-grade diatomaceous earth that you sprinkle around where you’ve seen earwigs;

Let’s have a look at the best of these solutions. 

Dish soap and water

How to get rid of earwigs in your house with this simple method? Mix dish soap and water in a spray bottle and use this soapy water to spray down areas where you have found crawling earwigs.

Rubbing alcohol and water 

You earwigs won’t like this one. Mix rubbing alcohol and water together to spray at earwigs; it will kill earwigs immediately.

Boric acid powder 

Let’s get deeper into the matter of earwig control. Another way for effective earwig removal is with boric acid, found at most hardware stores. Apply the treatment to the out-of-reach areas to kill earwigs that crawl nearby. 

Important: When using boric acid, steer away from the areas where pets or infants stay, as it can be harmful.

Bright light traps

Earwigs love bright lights when they scurry around at night. You can, for example, use the liquid dish soap and water method, leaving it in the bucket instead of in a spray bottle. By pointing bright lights at the bucket, you attract and kill every curious earwig that passes by.


Simply vacuum up earwigs you come across. Next, look for signs of earwig eggs to make sure there is no further population of earwig infestation growing inside your house. 

Tip: Make sure to dispose vacuum bag or empty it into a bucket of water and soap to get rid of earwigs for good.

If you did your best, but your DIY methods failed, or you simply can’t find earwigs, reach out to pest control companies. Every pest control company is prepared to use the right products and equipment and know how to kill earwigs or find them in even the smallest hiding places.

Also, how to repel earwigs from your potted plants or flower beds? 

To tackle an earwig issue in your plants, combine equal parts soy sauce and vegetable oil in a can. Then, leave it where you suspect earwig activity. Outdoors, you can also bury this mixture flush to the ground. The smell of the soy sauce will attract earwigs, but the vegetable oil will prevent them from climbing out of the trap. 

The oil and soy sauce method is an excellent method to keep earwig infestations at bay when it comes to potted plants. Soy sauce traps are pretty cruel but efficient!

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Frequently Asked Questions

A nest of an earwig is a short tunnel in the soil. It is commonly located next to a rock, under wood piles, or nearby other objects. After the female earwigs lay eggs, they spend all their time with them to prevent mold from killing them. A female earwig will eat the mold of her eggs to keep them clean.
An average lifespan of an earwig is one year, during which they change stages from egg to nymph (baby/juvenile) to adult. Their mating season is in fall and winter—their eggs hatch in the spring.
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