First things first: you won’t find an earwig nesting in your ear. Baton Rouge pest control experts will tell you that old yarn is nothing more than a myth. You could find them scurrying about your bathroom floor, tub or sink, however, most likely at night when you step into the bathroom and turn on the light. The tiny insects with the long bodies and big pincers are nocturnal and feed on live sprouts, decaying vegetation and fellow insects at night
What Is an Earwig?
There are more than 2,000 species of earwigs, and they all encompass the insect order Dermaptera, which means “skin wing.” While they sport a pair of membranous wings and forewings, they do not fly. Some species may try, but flight is short and clumsy.
They are widely identified by the pair of forceps-like pincers that protrude from their abdomens. No fear, though. Those pincers are not poisonous, and they do not spread disease. A few species emit an odor for defense.
Earwigs are small, no more than an inch long, and they inhabit every continent of the world, except Antarctica. More than 20 species live in the United States. For the most part, earwigs inhabit dark, moist spaces where they gather during the day and depart from at night. These spaces may include cracks and crevices in the home. They prefer the outdoors and take up residence in gardens and plants. If their numbers multiply, they can become a damaging pest.
How Do You Know You Have an Infestation?
Because of their size and the ominous look of their pincers, seeing one or two earwigs in your home does not necessarily signal an infestation. Usually, earwigs enter a home because of a change in weather or when food is scarce outdoors. More often than not, a door is left open and the earwig enters by accident. But because earwigs are outside insects and seldom wander indoors, seeing earwigs in your house could signal an outdoor earwig infestation.
Deducing whether there is a true infestation can be a challenge. Unlike many insects, earwigs are not social and do not gather together, like bees in a hive. There is no class structure - queen or king and workers - so an infestation cannot be identified that way, either.
Earwigs enjoy moist soil and like to hide under vegetation. The plant material, living or dead, acts as both a food source and a place where earwigs can lay eggs and raise their young. Often, you will find this around a home’s foundation or in a garden.
If you see earwigs in your home, it may be worth a trip outdoors to turn over leaves and stones to see if earwigs are living there. You could see handfuls of earwigs scurry away to find a new place to hide. While there is a chance this is normal with respect to the earwig population where you live, you may want to consider consulting a professional for earwig treatment to determine if you have an infestation.
How Do You Get Rid of Earwigs?
There are a number of home remedies you can try to get rid of earwigs. One simple way is to cover plant stems with petroleum jelly. It will keep earwigs from crawling up and traversing the plants. Borax sprinkled over wood piles or near low areas with plenty of vegetation is another possibility. Oil pit traps might work, and a split garden hose can act as a trap when laid between plant rows. The bugs will fall into the trap and have a hard time escaping. Simply transport them somewhere other than your garden.
If those home remedies fail to keep earwigs away, another option is calling a professional exterminator. Since every infestation is different, a professional can assess the situation and come up with a solution that will work best for your situation.
Often, an infestation will take more than one treatment to succeed. Your professional exterminator will go over that plan to let you know what it will take to solve the problem.
How Do I Prevent Earwigs From Coming Back?
If you have endured an earwig infestation or want to prevent one from happening in the first place, here are a few steps you can take:
1. Eliminate Their Hiding Places
This could be the biggest step you take to keep earwigs from coming back. Earwigs cannot endure sun and light, so without a place to hide, they will relocate somewhere else. If earwigs have a place to hide, some treatment applications may not work as efficiently as one would hope.
2. Clean Up the Yard
Beyond eliminating hiding places, you may also want to eliminate earwigs’ food source. While some earwigs are predatory, subsisting on other insects, most eat vegetation. Removing ground vegetation, old firewood, fallen leaves and so forth will help keep the pests at bay.
Make sure you minimize wet vegetation and moist soil, which attracts earwigs. If you are able to create a dry zone near your home’s foundation, you should be able to keep most earwigs away from the indoors.
3. Fortify Your Home
Since earwigs love a wet foundation, inspect gutters and other forms of exterior drainage to ensure that water is adequately shunted away from the home. Similarly, if you plan to water the lawn, do so in the morning so that the sun dries moisture throughout the day.
Earwigs, along with many other pests big and small, shy away from light. Use that knowledge to your advantage and make sure certain areas around the home are well lit at night. That should help keep any number of creepy crawlies away. Then, make sure there are no easy ways for earwigs to get into the house. Eliminate space under doors, and make sure screens are repaired.
With a little forethought and the right steps, many homeowners can avoid an earwig infestation. That includes eliminating places for earwigs to hide and keeping the area around a home’s foundation clear and dry. If earwigs manage to infest anyway, seeking the help of a professional exterminator can help ensure they will go away and stay away.
I really enjoy researching and writing about pests. The more we know about bugs, the easier it becomes to control them.