How to Bug Proof Your Home: Earwigs

Pest Management In and Around Structures September 10, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

 

Introduction

Earwigs are outdoor insects that live in damp environments and feed mainly on dead plant material. Contrary to general myth, earwigs do not climb inside ears. In fact, on the pest scale they are ranked low in importance. Their only significance is the occasional small damage to certain flowers and some vegetables.

They are not carriers of any disease and do not bite. The European earwigs are known for invading homes at certain times of the year. A high population of earwigs usually follows a wet spring.

Prevention

  1. Earwigs do not require much more than general exclusion measures such as caulking cracks, fitting doorstops and screens etc.
  2. Earwigs like to hide under cloth. Therefore, laundry should be shaken out before being brought inside.
  3. Limit outside lights, and draw curtains in lit rooms. Earwigs are attracted to lights in large numbers.
  4. There are a few old gardener’s techniques for reducing the earwig population in the yard. One consists of filling some cat food cans with a quarter inch of vegetable oil (they are especially attracted to fish oil) and placing them in the garden. Each day the cans are emptied of trapped earwigs and replaced until no more earwigs are found. Another trick includes placing pieces of corrugated cardboard that are taped at one end outside. The earwigs will crawl in, but will not be able to get out (because they cannot crawl backwards).

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.