By Chris Williams on May 19, 2017.

When I was planting flowers around our home’s foundation last weekend, I kept running into these things that I think are earwigs? They have pincers on their rear end and they freak me out. Why are they there and what do we do to get rid of them? E. L., Jamaica Plain, MA

Earwigs are a common pest outside in areas where there is high moisture such as under mulch, stones, or other materials. Because they are active at night and hide during the day, homeowners often don’t notice earwigs unless they accidentally find their way indoors.

Although earwigs may look threatening, they are basically harmless to people or plants (see Earwigs Only Look Scary!). Earwigs are scavengers on decaying plant material, dead insects, and other organic debris. Although they don’t bite, if you picked one up and harassed it, it could give you a little defensive pinch that wouldn’t break the skin. The pincers are used mainly in mating: a male earwig has curved pincers, while a female’s pincers are straight-sided.

Fun Fact! Earwigs are unusual among insects in that the female guards and cares for her eggs and feeds her newly hatched young in an underground nest until they are able to fend for themselves.


There are things you can do to reduce the number of earwigs around your foundation by making the area less hospitable for them:

  • Do what you can to reduce moisture around the foundation by adjusting downspouts, repairing leaky faucets, redirecting lawn sprinklers, and correcting poor grade or low spots.
  • Around the foundation, avoid heavy mulch, dense ground covers, weeds, thick plantings, leaf debris, and anything that keeps the area from drying out.
  • Clean up hiding places for earwigs around the foundation, under decks, and in crawlspaces by removing woodpiles, stacked boards, compost piles, stacked stone, leaves or grass clippings, etc.
  • Since earwigs are attracted to lights at night, reduce lighting around doors (including garage doors) and windows and seal openings that would allow them inside.

After you’ve done all that, contact Colonial Pest and enroll in our Preventative Maintenance Program. The area around the outside perimeter of your home will be scheduled for a preventive pest treatment twice a year that will control earwigs and other foundation insects and will keep them out of your home year-round. The plan also includes additional service calls, if needed. Call us for info!

Photo Credit : Gilles Gonthier



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