Most people have probably heard of earwigs at some point or another. These creepy-looking insects are associated with some urban myths. Learn the truth about earwigs, including what attracts them and how to help get rid of them.


Most people have probably heard of earwigs at some point. These creepy-looking insects are associated with some urban myths that make them seem scarier than they actually are. Learn the truth about earwigs, including what attracts them and how to help get rid of them.

What are earwigs? Commonly referred to as pincher bugs, earwigs are medium-sized insects that have flat bodies (like silverfish) and are usually black or brown. Some have stripes or reddish coloring on their heads and limbs. These bugs can be anywhere from one-fourth of an inch to one and one-fourth inches long. Part of that length is made up of hard pincher-looking forceps (pincers), which their nickname derives from. Earwig pincers [BC1] are used as a defense mechanism against other insects. They also have wings but rarely fly, as they aren’t very good at it.

Earwigs are nocturnal feeders that dine on other insects, as well as vegetation like moss, fungi and lichens. Additionally, they do eat decaying organic material — think mulch or piles of leaves — and may also feed on greasy food items that may be left out in the kitchen.

One interesting earwig fact is that the females of some species actually care for their eggs and sometimes even tend to nymphs after they have hatched. This level of maternal behavior is uncommon among insects.

What Are Pincher Bugs Attracted To?

During the day, earwigs tend to hide out under rocks, bark or organic debris or stow away in other dark, damp places. However in some conditions, like a drought, earwigs may seek out damp, dark shelters inside of your home.

Indoors, earwigs may be attracted to materials that offer a source of cellulose and are in the process of decaying. If you have stacks of old boxes, books or papers laying around in a dark, cool basement, you might as well set out a tiny welcome mat for earwigs. They may also seek out food sources in your kitchen and tend to be attracted to oily, greasy or sweet foods.

Tips for Control

Earwigs are rarely harmful to humans, but that doesn’t mean you want them in your home. If you only see one of these insects every now and again, you can simply sweep it out of the house and then vacuum thoroughly.

However, if you start to suspect you have an infestation or want to help prevent bugs like these from entering your home in the first place, you’ll want to contact a professional pest control service, like Terminix® for help. A trained technician can evaluate your problem and help you customize a pest control plan to fit your needs.

In addition, there are several steps you can take to try to make your home less attractive to earwigs:

  • Avoid decorating your yard with stones that earwigs can hide under
  • Don’t lay mulch down in layers that are more than 2 inches deep
  • Leave a 1-foot wide barrier between grass or shrubbery and your foundation or structural walls
  • Clean out rain gutters
  • Make sure rain gutters are positioned to carry water away from the home
  • Tidy your yard so that piles of organic debris, such as branches or leaves, are removed or far away from your house or other structures
  • Inspect the perimeter of your house and seal any cracks or entry points that earwigs may be able to slip through
  • Set up dehumidifiers in damp areas of your home
  • Have leaky faucets or plumbing fixed by a professional
  • Don’t leave pet food or water outside at night, if possible
  • Store foods in insect-proof containers
  • Wipe up spills from counters and stovetops
  • Vacuum regularly

Earwigs tend to stay outside and really only become an issue when they move inside. Fortunately, with a little preparation and the help of a pest control specialist, you may be able to decrease the likelihood of earwigs setting up camp in your home. Contact Terminix today to learn more about our treatment plans.