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WHY DO I HAVE EARWIGS IN MY HOUSE?

By Chris Williams on June 21, 2019.

Lately I’ve seen a few earwigs, those bugs with the pincers, in my house. I know a few doesn’t sound like many, but they’re just so creepy! Any clues as to where they’ve come from and why they are hanging around? Thanks.

G.J., Ayer, MA

Earwigs normally live outdoors in damp areas where they feed on live or dead insects and plants, sometimes damaging garden plants in the process. If you have earwigs entering your home it’s usually because (1) their outdoor environmental conditions have changed and are now too dry or too wet or too hot, (2) you may be attracting them with outside lighting, and (3) your home has gaps or openings that accidentally let them inside.

HERE’S HOW EARWIGS ARE GETTING INTO YOUR HOME

Earwigs are active at night and are attracted to bright outdoor lights, so they often enter homes around doors and windows, or foundation openings. Check that screens are tight, that garage doors have good seals, and that outside doors have weather stripping and thresholds. Because earwigs have flattened bodies, it doesn’t take much of a gap to allow them inside.

Earwigs sometimes end up inside when they are carried in on items where they have been hiding such as plants, newspapers, or firewood.

EARWIGS WOULD RATHER NOT BE HOUSE GUESTS

Earwigs. Shutterstock.

Earwigs don’t really want to be hanging around inside your home. They’d much rather be outside where it is moist, cool, and shady, and they can find their usual hiding places around the foundation, in ground cover plants, debris piles, or mulch (see What Are Earwigs?). If they do manage to find an area of your home that is damp enough for them to survive indoors, they might scavenge on food scraps, insects, mold, or plants.

Earwigs are usually found indoors in cracks and crevices near moisture, such as in house plants, in stacked newspapers, under carpeting that gets wet, in under-sink cabinets or around baseboards in kitchens and bathrooms.

ELIMINATE EARWIGS WITH OUR PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE PROGRAM

There are some steps you can take to eliminate earwig hiding places around your home’s foundation (see Foundation Management Can Reduce Earwigs). Reducing mulch, correcting leaky spigots or faulty downspouts, and moving piles of grass clippings, leaves, or other decaying vegetation will help.

There are also things you can do to reduce the attractiveness of porch, yard, or pool lights. Many newer types of LED and other bulbs draw in far fewer insects than our old incandescent bulbs. (see Porch Lights Attracting Bugs? Choose a Better Bulb).

You can also enroll in Colonial’s Preventative Maintenance Program that provides you with an outdoor twice-a-year perimeter treatment that eliminates earwigs and many other foundation pests before they can move inside. In addition, we offer pest-proofing or pest exclusion services that will seal up openings that earwigs can use to gain access.

CAN EARWIGS PINCH?

Earwig with circi up. Shutterstock.

Finally, here’s the answer to the question that you really want to ask. Yes, the pair of pincers on an earwig’s rear end do look kind of dangerous, but they don’t use them against people…usually. Male earwigs have curved pincers (called cerci), while female pincers are almost straight. They use them to capture prey, in mating, and larger species can use them defensively if handled. If you don’t grab them, they won’t pinch you. And earwigs don’t crawl into people’s ears either.

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