Earwigs are abundant and can be found throughout the Americas and Eurasia. The common earwig was introduced into North America in 1907 from Europe, but tends to be more common in the southern and southwestern parts of the United States. The only native species of earwig found in the north of the United States is the spine-tailed earwig, however, other families can be found in North America, including Forficulidae, Labiidae, Anisolabididae, and Labiduridae. With about 2,000 species in 12 families, they are one of the smaller insect orders, and out of them, about 25 occur in North America, 45 in Europe (including 7 in Great Britain), and 60 in Australia.
Earwigs are mostly nocturnal and often hide in small, moist crevices during the day, and are active at night, feeding on a wide variety of insects and plants. Damage to foliage, flowers, and various crops is commonly blamed on earwigs, as they are considered pests.
Earwigs are attracted to lights, so they can become a nuisance on porches and patios on summer evenings. In the morning they will be found gathered under things like cushions that were left outside overnight. Especially in the winter or if the weather outside is unfavourable, the earwigs will try to find a warmer place to live. When the weather changes, earwigs move inside homes to look for food and shelter. They can be found in areas with water, such as kitchen, bathrooms and laundries. Earwigs can also find their way into bedrooms and family rooms. They turn up in almost every part of the house, as they usually look for a damp place to live when outside conditions do not allow them to develop.
Due to their diet, mainly based on decomposing plants, they will be found under flowers, leaves or other vegetal scraps around your house.
Using chemicals to prevent earwigs
If you want to use pesticides to keep away earwigs, you can use them around your house, 1 meter near your foundation. You can apply the insecticide on the flowerbed mulch or under your house’s subfloor. The best time for applying it is in the afternoon, so that the chemicals are still fresh and active in the evening when the earwigs emerge from hiding. You can also use an aerosol insecticide that can be used on the inside of the house, and apply it on your baseboards, inside cabinets or other possible hiding places. Another type of trap that can be used it the glue trap, which is mostly used for cockroaches, but is also effective in the case of earwigs.
Prevent earwigs your house or yard
A little preparation and inspection a few times a year will keep earwigs from entering your house or apartment. The most important way of preventing them from settling their shelter inside your home is to also eliminate their hiding spaces, as just by applying insecticide, you won’t be able to contain a possible infestation. Taking care of your yard and house is important, so that you do not offer earwigs the possibility of finding the suitable damp space where they can lay eggs and create a nest. By using insecticide, you might remove the adults, but if the eggs remain, a new generation will emerge soon and take over your home again.
In the yard, you will need to move landscape timber, logs or decorative stones away from the foundation of the house. By creating a dry zone around the house which is free of mulch, dead leaves and other rotting things, the earwigs will not be attracted to move towards your home. Also, you can trim trees and shrubs that create a damp, shady area next to the house. Examine gutters and downspouts to make sure they drain away from the foundation.
Set irrigation systems so that they water in the morning and allow the landscape to dry during the day. In order to avoid creating a favourable environment for them, you can ensure you are using an appropriate drainage system for water, making sure that it leaks out of your property or further away from it. Make sure you do not to supersaturate the soil with water as this is not beneficial neither for your plants, nor for you, as you are creating optimal conditions for the emergence of an earwig infestations.
Also adjust outdoor light to shine towards the yard and not onto the house, as insects will be attracted away from it.
If the house has a crawlspace, install a vapour barrier and if there is still excessive moisture, take the necessary steps to dry the space. Should you be dealing with a damp basement, for example, you can use a dehumidifier, as earwigs won’t be attracted to a dry place.
Make sure that the door sweeps on the bottom of the doors fit tightly and that all foundation points do not have cracks. Also make sure that all window screens fit securely.
As the earwigs normally live in large numbers, be sure that if you saw one or two, somewhere hiding, a lot more can be found. Place herbs such as mint, basil, and lemon thyme around your home, which deter many insects from coming too close, including earwigs; rubbing eucalyptus oil on window ledges and door frames may also be a good step towards discouraging entry.
You can also encourage natural earwig predators such as toads and birds in your yard. These animals will pray on the insects and will help reduce the population and keep it under control. By installing bird feeders and shelter opportunities, you will encourage them to visit your yard and pray on the pests. Attract toads by allowing plants to grow wild near your house, but not adjacent to it. Or place some bricks on the ground, lay boards across them and put plants across the boards. Either of these steps will create a shady environment for toads and they will have a place to live and also food, by praying on the earwigs.
Should you already be dealing with an earwig infestation, visit our relevant article, and find out more about detailed methods on ‘How to get rid of earwigs infestation‘.