Earwigs: Are They Dangerous to People and Pets?

Earwigs are an intimidating insect to see around the home. But are they actually dangerous?

Earwig pincersinkastudio/Getty Images

If you come across an earwig in the home or around the yard, you might wonder if this is an insect you should be worried about. Is it harmful? Should you keep your children or pets away from them? Do you need to quickly find ways to get rid of them? Here is what you need to know if you encounter an earwig.

Are Earwigs Dangerous

Earwigs are not a dangerous insect to people. While they may look intimidating to us because of their exoskeleton and distinctive pincers, they can do very little harm. Earwigs don’t have any stingers on their body and thus do not carry any venom. They therefore are not poisonous. If earwigs are scared or their bodies get crushed, they can release a yellowish-brown secretion that carries a foul smell. This isn’t bad in any way other than providing an unpleasant scent.

Do Earwigs Bite

While they might not be the most pleasant insect to come across, pincher bugs do not bite. There is no sign that would indicate a mark on a person’s body would be that of an earwig bite. They do however have a pair of pincers that an earwig can use if it is scared or feels the need to defend itself.

Do Earwigs Pinch

As a substitute to biting, a “pincher bug” can pinch a person using those pincers at the end of their body. A pinch to the human skin might be semi-noticeable but not typically painful. In rare instances, an earwig pinch can break the skin. If that were to be the case, treatment for that event would be that for any normal scratch. Clean the wound with soap and water. For extra protection, use an antibacterial cream or lotion to prevent any infection that might come from the soil earwigs live and crawl in.

Are Earwigs Harmful to Cats and Dogs

In general, earwigs do not pose a threat to cats or dogs. They are not an aggressive insect that would seek out contact or confrontation with any of the household animals. Earwigs do have their pincers that they will use if they feel scared or threatened by a predator, but don’t have the capability to do any real damage.

There is a chance your cat or dog gets nipped in the nose or face by an earwig and if unlucky, might even be holding on. But this pinch will not be very painful or even noticeable for the dog or cat. At this point, since earwigs don’t have any venom or dangerous substances in their bodies, a dog or cat eating an earwig should not cause any problems. The yellow secretion that earwigs give off might not provide the greatest scent however.

Safety Concerns When Getting Rid of Earwigs

As they are an unpleasant pest to have in or around the home, you might take different measures to get rid of earwigs. If you decide that a pesticide is the best method, make sure to keep these sprays or traps away and out of reach from infants and small animals. The chemicals used in those solutions can be harmful to people if touched or ingested, so use with caution and care.

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.