What do earwigs look like?

  • Earwigs are dark brown to black with a red head and pale yellow-brown legs.
  • Size: 1/4 – 1 inch long,.
  • Long, flattened body usually with two pairs of wings (hind wings are fully developed and folded beneath the short, leathery front wings).
  • Thread-like antennae approximately half the length of the body.
  • Most notable characteristic—a “pincer-like” appendage at the end of the abdomen. 
  • “Pincer-like” appendages are known as the forceps.

What are the habits of earwigs?

  • Earwigs are typically outdoor insects which can become household pests if they invade homes or structures—typically during the fall or night-time.  
  • Earwigs have a foul, unpleasant and noticeable odor when crushed (as a function of alarm pheromone secretions).
  • Females lay multiple batches of approximately 50 eggs within a nest-like shallow depression beneath a wooden board or stone.
  • Developmental time from egg to adult is typically 56 days.
  • Females display a mothering, protective instinct.  Thus, they protect, the nest and the nymphs until they have reached their second molting phase.
  • Though they usually live outdoors and feed on vegetation, earwigs are general feeders, and therefore rarely do much damage to any particular plant.
  • Earwigs are increasingly active at night and are reclusive during the day.
  • Earwigs are not considered harmful to humans despite their name and some species are attracted to lights.

What should I look for when identifying earwig problems?   

  • Earwigs found indoors are generally found in cracks/crevices, under thresholds, under furniture and under carpeting—particularly if the subfloor contains moisture. 
  • On the exterior, earwigs can be found along mulch-beds, under pavers, stepping stones, wood piles, landscape/hardscape timbers, rocks, etc…

How do I get rid of earwigs?  

  • Outdoor harborages that are moisture-prone should be removed.
  • The yard should be regularly mowed, keeping weeds and tall grasses to a minimum.
  • Flower beds should not be over-mulched and mulch should be changed seasonally. 
  • Ideally, a barrier that is vegetation-free should be maintained at a length of 8-to-24-inches around the perimeter of structures or homes.  
  • Areas of extreme moisture should be considered for close inspection and environmental remediation (drying of moist areas). 
  • Insecticides can be applied to targeted areas to destroy readily visible earwigs.
  • Exclusion or sealing of entry points into buildings should be performed—caulking gaps around siding, windows, doors, pipes, wires, etc.
  • A vacuum should be used to remove visible or accessible earwigs.
  • Yellow bug-lights or sodium vapor lighting is less attractive to earwigs than traditional lighting.

Contact our entomologist-trained team of specialized pest control applicators to help you eliminate earwigs quickly.