earwig — ► NOUN ▪ a small elongated insect with a pair of terminal appendages that resemble pincers. ► VERB (earwigged, earwigging) informal ▪ eavesdrop. ORIGIN Old English, from are «ear» + wicga «earwig»; the insect was once thought to crawl into the… … English terms dictionary

Earwig — Ear wig ([=e]r w[i^]g ), n. [AS. e[ a]rwicga; e[ a]re ear + wicga beetle, worm: cf. Prov. E. erri wiggle.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any insect of the genus and related genera, belonging to the order (formerly ). They… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

Earwig — Ear wig ([=e]r w[i^]g ), v. t. [imp. & p. p. ([=e]r w[i^]gd ); p. pr. & vb. n. ([=e]r w[i^]g*g[i^]ng).] To influence, or attempt to influence, by whispered insinuations or private talk. No longer was he earwigged by the… … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

Earwig — Earwig, est le label d une compagnie de disque indépendante. Artistes produits : Homesick James Portail de la musique Catégorie : Label de musique indépendant … Wikipédia en Français

earwig — (n.) (Forficula auricularia), O.E. earwicga, from eare (see EAR (Cf. ear) (1)) + wicga beetle, worm, probably related to WIGGLE (Cf. wiggle). So called from the ancient and w >Etymology dictionary

earwig — [ir′wig΄] n. [ME erwig < OE earwicga < eare, EAR1 + wicga, beetle, worm < IE base * weik , to wind, bend > L vicia, VETCH: so called from the baseless notion that it particularly seeks out the human ear to crawl into] any of an order… … English World dictionary

Earwig — For other uses, see Earwig (disambiguation). Earwigs Temporal range: 208–0 Ma … Wikipedia

earwig — /ear wig /, n., v., earwigged, earwigging. n. 1. any of numerous elongate, nocturnal insects of the order Dermaptera, having a pair of large, movable pincers at the rear of the abdomen. v.t. 2. to fill the mind of with prejudice by insinuations.… … Universalium

earwig — ear·wig (îr’wĭg′) n. ▸ Any of various elongate insects of the order Dermaptera, having a pair of usually pincerlike appendages protruding from the rear of the abdomen. Also called dermapteran. tr.v. ear·wigged, ear·wig·ging, ear·wigs ▸ To attempt … Word Histories

earwig — UK [ˈɪə(r)ˌwɪɡ] / US [ˈɪrˌwɪɡ] noun [countable] Word forms earwig : singular earwig plural earwigs a brown insect with a pair of curved parts at the back end of its body … English dictionary

earwig — [OE] A colloquial Old English term for ‘insect’ was wicga (which would have been pronounced something like ‘w >The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins


Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name


Earwigs are odd looking insects which have pincers or forceps protruding from the abdomen. These are somewhat intimidating looking but they are not poisonous, and they do not spread disease.


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


They are slender insects with two pair of wings. Dermaptera means “skin wing” due to the leathery appearance of the wings. The hind wings typically fold under the front wings. Do earwigs fly?

There are more than twenty species of earwigs in the United States. Some species produce a foul smelling liquid that they use for defense. Earwigs also produce a pheromone (scent). Scientists believe that this pheromone is the reason that earwigs cluster together in large numbers.

There is a superstition that earwigs burrow into the ears of people while they sleep. This is a myth and without any scientific basis. Earwigs frighten many people because of the pincers on the back of their abdomens. Earwigs use these pincers for defense and for sparing with rival earwigs.

Where do they live?

As with any other type of insect with multiple species, biology and habits vary. Most types of earwigs generally prefer wet areas which 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.


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

Move quickly

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


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.

Attracted to lighting

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.

How Did I Get Earwigs?

Earwigs move into homes to find food or because of a change in weather.They usually wind up indoors while seeking shelter or just happen to wander inside through open doors. Earwigs prefer cool, damp areas and may enter homes during extended dry periods.

How Can I Get Rid of Earwigs?

The Orkin Man™ is trained to help manage earwigs and similar pests that invade homes. Since every yard or home is unique, the Orkin technician will design a special solution for your situation.

Keeping pests out of your home is an ongoing process, not a one-time treatment. Orkin’s exclusive A.I.M. solution is a continuing cycle of three critical steps — Assess, Implement and Monitor.

The Orkin Man™ can provide the right solution to keep earwigs, and other pests, in their place. out of your home.

Earwigs Signs

Homeowners often find them 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 infestations are rare.


Females typically lay between 30 and 50 but actual numbers depend on species. 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 the earwigs life cycle.

Prevention Tips

The most important part of controlling earwigs is eliminating their hiding places. If the earwig harborages are not addressed, insecticide application will probably not control earwigs very well. There are a variety of things that can be done.


  • Clean Up – Move landscape timbers, logs, decorative stones, and firewood piles away from the foundation.
  • Eliminate Moist Soil – Create a zone next to the foundation that is free of mulch, dead leaves, and other organic material. The “dry zone” should be 6” to 12” wide so that earwigs will avoid it.
  • Trim Overhanging Branches – Trim trees and shrubs that cause damp, shady areas near the house.

Around the Home

  • Proper Drainage is Key – Examine gutters and downspouts to make sure they drain away from the foundation. Set irrigation systems so that they water in the morning and allow the landscape to dry during the day.
  • Switch Up Exterior Lighting – Adjust outdoor lights to shine from the yard onto the house – insects will be attracted away from the house. If moving outside light fixtures is not practical, consider changing light bulbs to yellow bulbs since white lights are more attractive to insects.
  • Secure Possible Entry Points – Repair screens on crawl space vents and make sure the vents are not blocked.
  • Dry Out Moisture-Prone Areas – A dehumidifier might help in a damp basement.

Call for Professional Assistance With Earwig Removal

The best way to prevent earwigs is to utilize Integrated Pest Management, or IPM. IPM is a holistic approach to pest control. The basic steps of IPM include Inspection, Identification and Control.

Earwigs can infest many different areas in a home. Because of that, it may be necessary to use several insecticide products to control them effectively. A pest control professional will have the products and equipment to control earwigs effectively.


What are they?

Despite their scary appearance and reputation, earwigs are not directly harmful to humans. In fact, they are often beneficial, acting as scavengers of decaying matter and predators of insect larvae, slug eggs, aphids, and other garden pests.

Adult earwigs are about 1.5 to 2.0 cm (.59 to .79 inches) long and have antennae about half as long. The male has a large, curved pair of antennae, while the female has smaller, nearly straight ones. The earwig uses these during courtship and as a defence against attackers. Earwigs have a long, flat body with a tough, shiny, reddish-brown hard outer shell and prominent pincers (or forceps) at the end of their bodies.

Should I be concerned?

While decaying organic matter forms the largest part of their diet, earwigs also feed on the tender shoots, leaves, and blossoms of flowering plants and vegetables. Earwigs, being also carnivorous, are predators of insect larvae, slug eggs, aphids, and other garden pests. They sometimes even eat each other.

During the day, earwigs like to hide in cool, dark, moist places: under stones, in garden rubbish, tubular legs of garden furniture, wooden fences, hollow aluminium doors, and other cracks and crevices. Earwigs begin searching for food at dusk. In search of food and shelter, they crawl over the ground, climb houses, fences and trees, and may begin to wander into homes in June or July. Although they are accidental invaders, it is annoying to find these insects among food and clothes and occasionally between bed covers.

How can I get rid of earwigs?

Physical control

The best time to begin control measures is early spring, during dry, warm weather, when the earwigs are young. In populated areas, control works best when carried out on a neighbourhood or community basis.

  • Cultivate the soil to disturb earwigs that lived through the winter and expose newly laid eggs to the dry surface where they are less likely to survive.
  • Create a clean, low-moisture perimeter around your house foundation by trimming back vegetation and removing mulch, organic debris and other objects that can be used for shelter by earwigs.
  • Repair leaky taps and downspouts, and make sure to direct water drains away from your foundation.
  • Keep your lawn and garden free of excess debris and decaying organic matter to make it less attractive for earwigs. Don’t allow grass clippings, fallen leaves, weeds, and old wood to accumulate except where organic materials are stacked for proper composting.
  • Start vegetable gardens as early as possible to give plants a head start before the young (nymphs) come out from their nests in June.
  • Remove any damaged produce in your garden right away: earwigs like feeding on fruits or vegetables that have holes or bruises caused by other insects or disease.
  • Inspect cut flowers or vegetables before bringing them in from your garden, and remove any earwigs hiding between leaves or inside blooms.

Remember that even if earwigs are present, they are not always to blame for plant damage. Try a night tour of the garden with a flashlight to see if other nocturnal insects or slugs are present.

Take advantage of the earwigs’ habit of hiding in small, dark places by setting up simple traps in areas where they commonly go for shelter. You can use:

  • pieces of corrugated (pleated) cardboard that are rolled up, secured with a rubber band, and stood on end
  • flower pots can be stuffed with moistened straw or newspaper and left upside-down on the ground, propped up with a small stone to leave space for earwigs to crawl under
  • hollow bamboo canes or short sections of old garden hose can be placed on the ground

For best results, the traps described above must be checked regularly and the trapped earwigs dropped into a pail of soapy water.

Traps that attract and kill earwigs can also be placed near foundations and other strategic places in the yard:

  • Earwigs are strongly attracted to fish oil and, to a lesser extent, vegetable and other oils. Shallow containers (like sardine cans), partly filled with oil and buried to the rim in the soil will attract and trap many earwigs.
  • Use empty unrinsed frozen juice containers. Fill the tins two-thirds of the way with water. Add liquid soap and place in strategic locations.

If you use a pesticide to control your pest problem, read the label to make sure you are choosing the right product for the right pest. Follow all label directions and warnings carefully. Always look for a Pest Control Products (PCP) number on the label so you know the product has been approved by Health Canada. See Use pesticides safely for more information on using pesticides safely

When the earwigs in your home are a persistent problem, treatment with an insecticide is an option to consider, although the earwigs will eventually die out on their own. Remember, a more effective and long-term solution is to find and treat the outdoor source of the infestation.

If physical control methods are not enough, many products registered in Canada to control earwigs can be bought at garden centres or hardware stores. Keep in mind the most important target areas for treatments:

  • around building foundations and sidewalks
  • along fences, hedges, and woodpiles
  • under shrubs and other ground covers

Most garden insecticides are only effective when the insect comes into direct contact with them. Large infestations may develop tolerances to a particular chemical being used.

Keep children and pets away from baits. Do not use baits in your home. Be very careful with chemical sprays and dusts.

  • Set out baited pesticide products in small piles of pellets as bait stations, covering each pile securely with a board, shingle, or weighted foil plate to protect children and pets from exposure. Covering the bait stations also makes them more attractive to earwigs. Place bait stations in target areas where earwigs are noticed.
  • Use dust products only where children and pets cannot come into contact with treated surfaces. The best time to apply insecticides is during warm, dry weather when the earwigs are young, in June or early July. Applications should be done during the evening so that residues are fresh when the earwigs become active. Do not water areas you’ve treated for at least two nights after application. Treatment later in the summer is less effective.
  • Diatomaceous earth, a fine powder also known as silicon dioxide, is made up of crushed microscopic marine fossils. It can be applied indoors or outdoors and remains active until it is washed away. As insects crawl over the powder, their outer “skin” is scratched, causing them to dehydrate and die. When attractants are added and the insects ingest the powder, their digestive system is affected as well. This product is non-toxic to humans and pets, but be careful not to inhale the dust when applying it.
  • Pesticide sprays and powders can safely be applied (as directed on the label) to ornamental plants and vegetables under attack. Do not apply insecticides to any flowers, including fruit and vegetable blossoms, as they may be very poisonous to bees.
  • Insecticidal soaps can also be effective when used where they will contact earwigs directly. You may need to repeat applications at regular intervals. Always check the label directions for how often to apply.
  • To discourage earwigs from invading your home, certain pesticides can be painted or sprayed around exterior window frames, doors, and the foundation and nearby soil (not on vegetation). Be sure to check labels to see which products can be used like this. Indoor spot treatments with a residual spray can be done along baseboards, drainpipes, and under the edges of carpets and surrounding rugs.

Did you know?

Some provinces and municipalities have placed more restrictions on the use of certain approved lawn and garden pesticides (those used outdoors, not indoors). Please check with your city, province, or local lawn care centre for more information.


Get Rid Of Earwigs

Earwigs are easily recognizable by their pincers (forceps harmless to humans) at the ends of their abdomen. They are dark reddish-brown, with light brown legs, and are about 5/8 inch long.

Earwig Biology

In a season, females reproduce up to 20-60 eggs laid in burrows (called chambers), 2 to 3 inches beneath the soil. Most species have one generation a year, over-wintering in the soil. Both adults and the young require moisture to live.


  • Earwigs are primarily nocturnal, feeding at night. They are scavengers, eating primarily dead insects and decomposing plant materials.
  • Some earwig species are attracted to lights.
  • During the day, earwigs will seek shelter under organic matter such as mulch, pine straw, leaf litter, and other debris. Earwigs prefer dark and damp areas like under sidewalks, and stones.
  • Earwigs eat live plants and can do damage to field crops.
  • Earwigs are found in homes and can get in through entry points like doors and windows, and by going up the foundation.
  • Their populations build up around foundations. Earwigs produce large populations rather quickly and are often a major problem in new subdivisions.
  • Earwigs live in habitats that also harbor centipedes, sow bugs (roly-poly), and millipedes.


  • Because earwigs are attracted to moisture it is important to eliminate high moisture areas. Earwigs may be present, althugh invisible during the day around foundations, in mulch, under stones, boards, etc.
  • Look for ways to eliminate damp moist conditions particulary around crawl spaces, faucets, and along the foundations.
  • Rain gutters and spouts should direct water away from the house foundation.
  • Caulk or use weather stripping at all possible entry points such as doors, windows, pipes and other entry points at the ground level
  • Change landscaping by creating a clean, dry border immediately around the foundation wall. Gravel or ornamental stones can make an attractive barrier against earwigs and other pest invaders.

Earwig Control and Recommendations

Removing earwig habitats is very important to the control of all insects, including earwigs.

As they are attracted to lights, it might help to reduce some of the lighting outside at night.

Most insecticide treatment should be done outside with application around the building foundation, flower beds, mulch areas and turf within a couple of yards of the building, as well as in the crawl space areas of the home. Treat in a three to six foot band around the building adjacent to the foundation (perimeter treatment) to stop or limit earwigs from getting indoors. Spring and Summer are the best times to apply insecticides.

Recommended products and treatment are:

All these products are odorless and will provide excellent results.

Bifen IT may be used outside only(limited inside usage) and is a recommended insecticide for mosquito and tick control.

Cyper WSP has been a very popular product but has a slight visible film that can be seen against darker surfaces.

LambdaStar ULtraCap 9.7 is odorless, long lasting and may be used in or outside with no visible residue.

If earwigs are coming indoors, use a supplemental treatment such as a crack and crevice aerosol, spraying along the baseboards, beneath cabinets, and other hiding places on the ground level.

A recommended aerosol would be : Crack and Crevice Invader. It comes with crack and crevice tools to spay with a fine stream.


What is an Earwig?

Earwigs are slender insects that get their name from the old European myth that they crawl into people’s ears and tunnel into their brains while they are sleeping. While this superstition has no scientific backing, the pincers located on the back of an earwig’s abdomen are quite frightening to many people. There are more than 20 different earwig species occurring in the United States. Read on to learn about earwig control and how to get rid of earwigs.

Earwigs Identification

Pest Stats

Found throughout U.S.

What Do Earwigs Look Like?

Earwigs range in size from ¼-1 inch long. They have elongated, flattened bodies that vary in color from pale brown with dark markings to reddish brown to black. Earwigs have six legs and threadlike antenna that measures about half of their body length. Most notably, however, are the pincers that protrude from the back of their abdomen. Earwigs also have two pairs of wings, with their hind wings usually folding underneath their front wings. These body parts typically have a leathery appearance to them. Not all earwig species fly, and those that do only do so in short bursts.

Do Earwigs Really Go in Your Ear?

Contrary to European folklore, earwigs do not crawl into ears and eat peoples’ brains at night.

Earwig Photos

Photo of an earwig on a plastic bottle cap

Photo of an earwig on a soda can

Photo of an earwig on a spoon

Earwigs Prevention

In order to prevent any structural entry by earwigs, cracks and crevices should be well sealed with a silicone-based caulk, steel wool or a combination of both. This practice includes sealing doors and windows, as well as attic and foundation vents. Since earwigs prefer moist protected areas, they usually congregate in areas with high condensation such as unventilated basements. Earwigs are also attracted to dirt and leaves, so an unfinished basement floor is an ideal environment for these pests. Using a dehumidifier and cleaning up cement floors can help prevent earwigs from getting comfortable in a household.

If you suspect an earwig infestation in your home, contact a licensed pest control professional to conduct an inspection and work with you to develop an earwig control and treatment plan.

Do earwigs crawl into or go in your ears at night? Dr. Parada dispels the notion of earwigs actually entering one’s ear. Learn more about earwigs here.

Find a Pest Control Professional

How to Get Rid of Earwigs

In order to get rid of earwigs or prevent an infestation, homeowners should remove harborage sites such as leaf piles, mulch piles or other vegetation on their property. They should also consider moving objects such as firewood piles and logs away from the home, thereby creating a perimeter around the house that is free of organic material.

Furthermore, any trees or shrubs that cause damp, shady areas around the house should be trimmed. In order to ensure proper water drainage, check to make sure gutters and downspouts drain away from the home. This will help prevent any moisture build up that might attract earwigs.

Earwigs Education

These insects live together outdoors in large numbers. Earwigs can be found under piles of lawn debris, mulch or in tree holes. They gain entry to a structure through exterior cracks.

In addition to not crawling into peoples’ ears at night, earwigs also do not spread diseases. However, some species produce a foul-smelling liquid as a self-defense mechanism, and their menacing appearance can be alarming to homeowners. In any case, earwigs actually pose a greater threat to garden plants, rather than people.

Do Earwigs Bite?

While their pincers are used primarily to aid in reproduction, hunt prey and for defense, earwigs will pinch humans if they are picked up and agitated. While the pinch can sometimes be painful, no venom is transferred, and the pinch rarely breaks the skin. Additionally, earwig pincers do not spread disease.

Earwigs usually spend their days hiding while feeding on leaves, flowers, fruits, mold and insects at night. During the day, most earwig species tend to seek out cold, wet areas that are left undisturbed, such as small, moist crevices. When feeding at night, these insects prefer decaying vegetation and plant items found beneath mulch or wet leaves. Additionally, certain types of earwigs will target seedlings, potentially rendering crops and garden plants unproductive due to the damage caused by these insects. Some earwig species will also prey on smaller arthropods and insects.

When startled or uncovered, earwigs will quickly move and run away. They can be found living together outdoors in large numbers, usually congregating under piles of lawn debris, mulch or in tree holes. This is a habit that scientists believe is caused by a pheromone produced by these insects.

When provoked by a need for food or a change in weather, earwigs may infiltrate households by way of exterior cracks and openings. Once inside, they are found near water sources, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens. Earwigs have also been known to make their way into other household areas such as family rooms and bedrooms. Furthermore, these insects are attracted to lights, causing them to become a nuisance on patios and porches during summer evenings.

After spending the winter in small burrows in the ground outdoors, female earwigs will lay eggs in these burrows come springtime. These relatively small eggs are round in shape and white to tan in color. Earwigs have been known to display maternal characteristics, tending to the eggs until they hatch and caring for the nymphs until they are able to find their own food.


No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail will not be published. All fields are required.