How to Get Rid of Earwigs in the Home and Yard

Updated: Feb. 07, 2024

Earwigs can be frightening to find in the home. See what it takes to remove the pincher bugs and keep them from returning in the future.

Earwig trapped in resinHenrik_L/Getty Images

Earwigs can be a problem for homeowners inside the home and out. In the garden, an abundance of earwigs can chew up plants and flowers, eat through fruits and vegetables, and generally leave a mess in area you want looking its best. Finding an earwig inside the home can be a problem, so most people don’t want to share their space with other pests. With that, here is how you know you have earwigs and what you can do to keep them out and away from the home.

Signs of Earwigs

Earwigs are a nocturnal insect seeking cool and damp environments. They live and eat outdoors, thus making indoor encounters more rare and infestations unlikely. A few signs that might indicate the presence of earwigs:

  • Foul smell –  Earwigs can produce a yellowish-brown secretion when scared or crushed. This strong scent can be an indication of the bug’s presence.
  • Night lights –  Earwigs like to come out at night to search for food. This would be the ideal time to find them. Some species of earwigs are attracted to bright lights, so a location that harbors bright illumination could be a good place to start looking for them.
  • Dead plants and leaves – Earwigs preferred food source is dead and dying vegetation. The most common place to find earwigs are in the garden and in any leaf piles, as they get the benefit of protection and food in one location.
  • Cold and moist locations – Earwigs are sensitive to dry and hot air. They look for cool and moist environments to hide under and live in. In the house, the basement where air is colder and there is higher susceptibility to leak and water build-up is a likely place for earwigs to hide out in.

Earwig in the homeErhan Gecili/Getty Images

How to Get Rid of Earwigs

To get rid of or kill pincher bugs in the home and garden, there are quite a few natural and chemical solutions to do so. With a few different types of earwigs common to the US, here are a few remedies:

  • Dish soap and water – Mix dish soap and water to spray down areas where you have found earwigs to be crawling.
  • Rubbing alcohol and water – Mix rubbing alcohol and water together to spray at earwigs onsite. This method can be used to kill earwigs immediately.
  • Boric acid powder – Found at most hardware stores, boric acid is a treatment you can apply to those out of reach areas to kill earwigs that crawl near it. Warning though, this treatment should be kept away from areas that pets or infants will be near, as it can be harmful.
  • Light traps – Earwigs are attracted to bright lights when they scurry around at night. Use the dish soap and water method above, this time filling a small bucket. Point a bright light at the bucket and leave out to attract and kill nearby earwigs.
  • Oil and soy sauce traps – Combine olive oil and soy sauce in a small container and place in a location near where earwigs have been found. Earwigs will be attracted to the smell and climb into the liquid where they will drown.
  • Earwig pesticide – Purchase a pesticide to cover the areas where earwigs have been spotted. Various pesticides that will be effective against earwigs include sevin, malathion, pyrethrins, and diatomaceous earth. These methods are particularly effective for earwigs outside the home.
  • Vacuuming – For those pesky earwigs in the house and garden, a safe and easy removal method is to simply vacuum up any earwigs you come across. Look for any signs of earwig eggs to prevent further population. After use, look to dispose vacuum bag or empty into a bucket of water and soap as mentioned above to drown any found earwigs.

How to Prevent Earwigs in the Future

Once you have you removed all the earwigs found in and around your home, make sure that they don’t come back. Here are some tips to prevent earwigs from returning to your premise.

  • Window screen holes – If you have any windows that use a screen for protection, make sure that they are fully intact. Cover and repair any holes in the window screens to eliminate a potential location where earwigs could enter the home.
  • Fill house cracks and holes – Check the foundation around your home, especially those near the entrances. Fill any cracks and holes to the house with caulk so that the pincher bugs can’t find those small crevices into the home.
  • Fix leaky drains and pipes – Earwigs look for cool and moist locations to scavenger and live. Look throughout your home for any pipes or drains that might be leaking. Fix these dripping hot spots to help eliminate the earwig’s ideal environment.
  • Remove leaf, stone, and wood piles – Earwigs prefer a natural home outdoors that contains a quality food source and protection. Remove piles of leaves, stone, and old wood that make a safe home for earwigs.
  • Keep vegetation away from the home – If you have any mulch, dead leaves, or vegetation, attempt to keep that away from the home’s foundation. As this is the ideal food source and living space for earwigs, keeping it away from the house will help lower the possibility of earwigs moving into the home.
  • Clean gutters and drainpipes – Make sure to fully clean your gutters and point drains multiple feet away from the home. Backed up gutters that create wet spots near and against the house is a perfect location for earwigs to travel to.
  • Tree and bush trimming – Get rid of overly shady and damp areas by trimming back the trees and shrubs in your yard.

Earwig Exterminators

If you come across an earwig infestation where large numbers are present or you keep having to remove earwigs week after week, call the professionals and hire an exterminator to evaluate the situation and determine the best solution to removing those pesky pests. Expect the effort to take time and happen over multiple weeks. Pest control isn’t something that happens in one day, as it often requires persistence and continued effort to effectively remove earwigs from the comforts of your home and yard.

Additional Earwig Information

For more information about earwigs and what it means when you find this pest in your home, check out these pest control articles.