Outsmart earwigs in-house and out

Taking extreme measures for earwig control is rarely necessary. Still, it doesn’t hurt to learn how to get rid of earwigs (or how to get rid of pincher bugs, a name used in certain regions). Just remember, treatment methods are always best handled and applied by professional service technicians.

The Washington State University Extension summarizes:

‟Earwig control should be carried out wherever this pest becomes numerous. Pest management options cover a range from partial control (physical methods) to near complete control (extensive insecticide application program). Both physical (crushing) and chemical methods can be used inside or outside of the home. Select the method or combination of methods best suited to your circumstances. For serious infestations, contact a commercial pest control operator.”

The University of California at Davis Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) adds, ‟Keep in mind that earwigs are omnivores and are beneficial in some situations, such as when they feed on aphids, and don’t need to be managed in (all) situations.” Here’s what you need to know about removing earwigs in and around your home.

How to kill earwigs on your property

Entomologists at Utah State University give excellent advice about earwig removal and control, saying:

‟For earwig control, focus on the outside of the home where populations increase during spring and summer. To reduce their entry into your home, create a clean, dry border using gravel or stone immediately around the foundation wall. Eliminate hiding places near the foundation such as groundcovers, climbing vines, weeds, thick mulches and vegetation and piles of debris, leaves or wood. Earwigs hide under mulches in plant beds during the day, so be sure to select mulches with smaller-sized particles to reduce refuges.

Seal cracks and crevices around windows, doors and cable holes in walls. Apply insecticides … around the foundation, flowerbeds and turf within several yards of the home. In late spring to early summer, suppress earwig populations by targeting sites where they congregate (sites where females brood their young), and on plants when injury appears.

Apply an effective insecticide in the late evening just before earwigs come out to feed. Recommended insecticides include permethrin, esfenvalerate, bifenthrin, pyrethrins, carbaryl, malathion, azadirachtin and diatomaceous earth. Use enough water in the application to cover plants and carry the chemical into the top layer of soil or mulch where earwigs hide. Not all insecticide products are registered for edible plants. Read the product label carefully before making an application.”

After uncontrollable hiding areas have been eliminated, the UC IPM explains how to get rid of earwigs using traps, advising:

‟A key element of an earwig management program is trapping. Place numerous traps throughout the yard, hiding the traps near shrubbery and ground cover plantings or against fences. A low-sided can, such as a cat food or tuna fish can, with 1/2 inch of oil in the bottom makes an excellent trap. Fish oil such as tuna fish oil is very attractive to earwigs, or vegetable oil with a drop of bacon grease can be used. These traps are most effective if sunk into the ground so the top of the can is at soil level. Dump captured earwigs and refill cans with oil.

Other common types of traps are a rolled-up newspaper, corrugated cardboard, bamboo tubes, or a short piece of hose. Place these traps on the soil near plants just before dark and shake accumulated earwigs out into a pail of soapy water in the morning. Earwigs can also be dropped into a sturdy plastic bag and crushed. Continue these procedures every day until you are no longer catching earwigs.”

Washington State University expands on this method of getting rid of earwigs, saying:

‟Quickly remove the cover of a hiding place, and then either physically destroy the earwigs or rapidly spray the area with a suitable pesticide. On tree trunks, wrap corrugated cardboard around the trunks to collect earwigs as they travel from ground to tree branches. At a suitable time (when they have collected inside the cardboard), remove it from the tree and physically destroy the earwigs.”

How to get rid of earwigs in my house

Getting rid of earwigs indoors requires a different approach, as pointed out by the UC IPM program:

‟Earwigs may seek refuge indoors when conditions outside are too dry, hot, or cold. Large accumulations of earwigs can be annoying but present no health hazards. Sweep or vacuum them up (be sure to kill and dispose of them promptly so they won’t reinvade) and seal entry points. Earwigs eventually die indoors because there is little for them to eat.”

They go on to say:

‟Insecticide treatments indoors aren’t recommended, since they will do little to prevent invasions.”

If you are set on using insecticides to get rid of earwigs inside your home, heed the advice of Washington State University entomologists, who warn:

‟Use a cyfluthrin-containing pesticide registered for indoor home use. Apply according to the directions, and only in areas where earwigs have been seen and physical control has only been partially successful.”

The easiest way to get rid of earwigs is to call Terminix® and get a free pest estimate to keep you and your family safe, especially during an earwig infestation.