Earwigs are little brown insects that grow up to 2 inches long, although most are smaller than 1 inch. They are easily recognized due to the pincers at the end of their long abdomen. They get their unusual name because an old wives tail tells us that these bugs would crawl into a person’s ear and dig into a person’s brain in order to lay eggs. Pretty gruesome, but we know that this old wives tail is superstition only. These bugs, like any other tiny bug, can crawl into someone’s ear, but they do not cause any damage or harm to people.
Earwigs are attracted to dark, damp spaces such as bathrooms, trash cans, cabinets under the kitchen sink and laundry rooms. It is not unusual to pick up dirty clothes from the floor only to find earwigs hiding underneath. They are nocturnal animals and are more easily seen at night.
How to tell if you have an infestation:
Indoors, you will usually see an infestation by seeing the earwig itself. Since these animals don’t really cause damage to wood or other household items, there aren’t many other signs to look for. However, outdoors, signs of damage on plants, gardens and greenery can mean an earwig infestation.
It is not unusual to find large numbers of earwigs around the foundation of your house. They can be seen at night by shining a light around the edges of the foundation or in cracks of the foundation.
Controlling an infestation:
The best way to take care of an indoor earwig population is to physically remove the bugs from the house. This includes sweeping with a broom or a vacuum to remove the earwigs from the house. It’s also important to remove damp, wet spaces that attract these bugs. Keep dirty clothes off the floor, fix leaky plumbing and hang up damp towels so they can dry quickly. The use of insecticides can also be extremely effective when applied to areas where these bugs may enter the house or may congregate.
If you have an outdoor infestation, you will need to remove anything that might be a good breeding site for the adult female. This includes mounds of damp mulch, compost or trash. Traps are often effective and outdoor insecticides are usually extremely effective once the breeding sites have been found. This is because earwigs often burrow deep underground, so that other methods of pest management won’t be effective.
Since earwigs are attracted to lights, it’s also important to keep lights off as much as possible at night.