Earwig control for your home and yard

Are you noticing more and more earwigs in your home this season? Would you like to know how to get rid of them and how to keep them out of your home for good? You’re not alone. We receive a lot of requests for earwig control from householders and business owners; it’s one of the most common pest-control treatments we’re asked to carry out.

Why bother exterminating them?

You might not know it to look at them, but earwigs are not harmful for humans. It’s pure myth that they can crawl into people’s ears and burrow into their brains while they’re sleeping. Neither do they lay their eggs in human ears.

In fact, earwigs—in moderate numbers—can be beneficial in some ways. Depending on the species, they feed on decomposing organic matter or on insect larvae, as well as on grubs and other pests that damage the produce in your garden or the flowers you’ve planted.

On the other hand, if an earwig population gets out of control, their presence can make you very uncomfortable in your own home—their pincers are enough to send shivers down the spine of many a person. They can also carry viruses that are harmful to your garden plants. In either of these cases, professional earwig extermination is recommended.

Physical description

The earwig is a six-legged insect that measures between 1.5 and 2 cm in length. Its body is slightly flat, with a shiny exoskeleton and a brownish or rusty colour.

Most notably, it has a set of pincers at the end of its abdomen, called cerci. These forceps are a defense feature that males use against other males during mating rituals. In situations where aggression is called for, the male may raise the pincers over its body, much as a scorpion would. Note that the cerci of males are more curved than those of females.

Earwigs are most active at night; however, if they are moving around during the day, they’ll seek out dark, damp nooks and crannies. Their preference is to live outdoors; when you do find them indoors, they’re probably not looking for a place to nest. Unlike socially organized insects, earwigs don’t live in colonies, but rather individually, preferably in damp soil.

Where earwigs hide

  • Along walls in damp basements or sheds
  • In dark or damp rooms, such as the bathroom or laundry room
  • In finished basements
  • In window frames
  • Along the exterior foundations of your house
  • Under rocks outdoors
  • In empty, upturned buckets or containers in the backyard

Earwigs typically lay their eggs outdoors in mid-May. Only one batch of young is produced per year. Nymphs undergo four moults before reaching maturity; you might sometimes find their empty exoskeletons on the floors of the bathroom or in the basement. In Quebec, the first adults generally appear in July and remain active until October.

The signs of an earwig infestation: flower petals and garden vegetables with holes in them and the appearance of random earwigs in your house.


Earwig deterrents

As with most insect infestations, prevention is much easier for householders to undertake than eradication. Here are the earwig-prevention strategies we recommend:


  1. Eliminate indoor humidity problems wherever possible. Use a dehumidifier in the basement or damp rooms, and make sure your rain gutters are angled away from your house foundations.
  1. Create a clear, dry zone along your house foundations. Earwigs typically live outdoors, not in your house. So, set bushes and plants into the ground a half-metre away from exterior walls. Keep wood piles and flagstone paths about 20 cm away from foundations.
  2. Deprive them of food sources. Earwigs like to eat decomposing organic matter, so don’t leave grass cuttings, pulled garden weeds or fallen leaves laying around on the ground.
  3. Shine spotlights on your house at night. Earwigs flee light; keeping your foundations brightly lit will draw the insects away from them.

We offer a five-year guarantee, so you just can’t go wrong when you let Elite Pest Control keep persistent earwigs out of your home.

Taking further steps

If your deterrents don’t work, you could try to trap the invading earwigs manually. To do this, lay short lengths of hose or piping in your yard or in the basement. Check for earwigs every morning and dump them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them.

You could also try an insecticide. There are several store-bought products intended for use against earwigs. If you pursue this route, make sure you target the infestation at its source: outside, near wood piles, house foundations, concrete flagstones and fences. Shrubs and hedges can also shelter earwigs.

Don’t forget you can always call a professional exterminator. If you have a large-scale earwig infestation on your hands, contact us and book a free evaluation of your situation. Our pest-control technicians can use a combination of human-safe products and prevention tricks to get rid of your earwig problem.