How to get rid of earwigs in the house


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Earwigs disgust many people, especially when they have invaded the house. Find out how to get rid of earwigs using traps and other means in this article.

how to get rid of earwigs in the house
Earwigs in the house are not dangerous but unpleasant [Photo: Natalia Zhabalieva/]

Once earwigs (Forficula auricularia) have chosen one’s hallway, garage, garden shed or even the bedroom for their new dwelling, it can become quite uncomfortable for the owners. While these prehistoric flying insects are beneficial to the garden, they can turn into a real nuisance once they enter the house. Find out how to keep earwigs away and learn about gentle methods to get rid of them.

How to get rid of earwigs your house

First, we will have a closer look at these often underestimated insects, before explaining the various ways of combating earwigs, including preventive measures, use of traps as well as household remedies, organic means and chemical pesticides. Moreover, this article clarifies whether earwigs are useful or dangerous.

What are earwigs?

Earwigs (Dermaptera) make up an order within the class of flying insects. They actually have wings, even though they hardly ever use them. One of the frequently found earwig is the common earwig (Forficula auricularia), which inhabits Europe and North America. It usually feeds on fungi, algae, dead plant material and small insects. Earwigs tend to hide under bark and foliage, in crevices or in between stacks of wood. This is where in spring and autumn, the females lay up to 100 eggs and engage in extensive brood care once the larvae hatch. Earwigs are most active at night and at dusk.

Note: The ancestors of the present-day earwigs (Dermaptera) have lived on Earth as early as the Jurassic period, which indicates that this insect order is at least 150 million years old. This also explains their archaic appearance.

earwigs as beneficial insects in the garden
Earwigs in the garden are beneficial not harmful [Photo: Alonso Aguilar/]

Combating earwigs

Earwigs thrive in hidden, slightly moist places that are not too warm. In fact, they do not really feel comfortable inside houses. If you find one or more earwigs in an apartment that is usually heated and dry, it is most likely a coincidence. In such a case, the animals may have entered the house through a crack and were possibly attracted by an enticing food source. Usually they prefer sheds, garages, balconies or greenhouses. For those who want to get rid of the insects there, the following tips on how to deter earwigs can help.

Note: Earwigs only produce one or at most two generations per year. It is therefore very rare that an infestation occurs.

Preventing an earwig infestation

To keep earwigs out, completely seal all existing entrances. Simply apply silicone, clay or other fillers to the cracks. Don’t forget to also seal doors and windows, so that the earwigs cannot invade the house when looking for winter quarters. It is also helpful to avoid storing potential food sources for the insects in the affected room. Food items as well as dead plant material of any kind must be inaccessible and well-sealed. Other than these preventative measures, you can also resort to traps and other methods for controlling earwigs, which we will discuss next.

Earwig traps

Since earwigs are not dangerous and usually even beneficial for the garden, we recommend that you first try capturing them with traps. Once they are caught, you can take them outside without harming them and they will go about their daily business in the garden. This clearly only applies to traps that do not injure the insects in any way.

Clay pot trap

Offering earwigs a comfortable shelter overnight and removing them the next morning is another gentle way to capture earwigs. Place a clay pot, filled with straw, hay or shredded newspaper and a little soil, upside down (in a way that still allows the earwigs to get underneath). This should lead to real earwig gatherings.

earwigs in my house
Earwigs like to crawl into flower pots including the ones inside [Photo: Dmitrii Pridannikov/]

Trap made of damp cloth

Even a little piece of wet paper or fabric will do the job. Lay it in a corner for the night. The insects revel in humidity, many of the earwigs will easily be lured into the damp cloth which you simply take outside the next morning. Of course, this will only work if the rest of the room is dry.

Glue trap

In order to keep earwigs away from fruit trees, try regular glue rings. Since earwigs rarely ever fly, they will stick to the rings when climbing up the tree, even though these traps are actually intended for winter moths. However, earwigs are hardly ever the cause of significant damage to fruit trees. In fact, they keep them free of aphids.

Organic remedies for earwig treatment

While we strongly advise against treating earwigs in the garden because they are beneficial for the health of the ecosystem, it is possible to treat them in your living space. To keep the treatment as harmless and nature-friendly as possible, we recommend organic control methods. Many pest control agents are unfortunately anything but gentle to pets or beneficial insects, since the requirements for approval in organic farming only demand the natural origin of the ingredients. However, highly concentrated amounts of natural substances can be just as harmful to bees, beneficial insects and aquatic organisms as synthetically produced ones.

Earwig crawling on piece of paper
There are more natural methods of dealing with earwigs in your house that are safer for us and our pets than chemical pest deterrents [Photo: Andrew Marek/]

Chemical agents for earwig treatment

Traps with chemical insecticides or sprays for bait are still an option to control earwigs in the house. However, it has hopefully become clear in the previous paragraphs that the use of poisons is neither necessary nor more effective than organic or household remedies. Besides, earwigs are pretty tough insects. Even when sprayed directly with a pesticide, they often recover after some time and live on as if nothing had happened. Therefore, for the sake of protecting humans, animals and the environment as a whole, we do not recommend the use of insecticides in the house.

Household remedies for earwig treatment

These simple tricks can help prevent earwigs from crawling around the house.

Combating earwigs with light

Earwigs tend to shy away from light and heat. You can use this to your advantage. Clean the affected room thoroughly, illuminate and heat it for a long period of time, the insects will leave on their own.

Getting rid of earwigs from beds and laundry

Sometimes earwigs hide in folded laundry. Especially if the laundry wasn’t quite dry yet and was sitting outside they easily get into it. The insects feel very comfortable in the narrow spaces between the folds of laundry. They also tend to make themselves comfortable in beds, since they are often slightly damp, nicely warm and dark between the sheets. These unpleasant encounters can be prevented as follows.

How do you get rid of earwigs from bed and laundry?

  • Only remove laundry when completely dry and thoroughly shake the clothes out
  • Aerate the bedding during the day and do not leave it on the bed
  • Heat and air rooms with laundry and bedding regularly in order to remove moisture from the room
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