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Earwigs can be a serious home and garden pest if not removed quickly. Though there’s debate on whether they’re actually beneficial to your lawn and garden, most find that these pests ruin a variety of plants and flowers and damage stacks of books and paper within the home. Learn how to identify an earwig and how to get rid of this insect both naturally and chemically.
An earwig is a slender, fast-moving outdoor insect with two pairs of wings and a set of pincers or forceps that protrude from the abdomen. The pincers are used as a defense mechanism. Earwigs have medium-sized bodies (getting as long as 1 ¼ inch) that are typically black or brown and a head that’s usually a reddish color. Depending on the species, some earwigs will have stripes on their heads or limbs.
Similar to sugar ants, earwigs produce a pheromone (scent) trail that allows them to cluster in large numbers. Some earwig species will even give off a foul-smelling liquid when defending themselves. While these bugs may look intimidating, they’re not known to harm humans, carry poison, or spread disease.
Earwigs are nocturnal feeders that primarily feed on plants, vegetation, fruit, and decaying organic material, like piles of leaves and mulch. Some earwigs will also feed on insects. Inside the home, an earwig will eat greasy foods found on kitchen countertops or items with a high cellulose content, like stacks of newspapers.
More than 20 species of earwigs are found in the United States. Most types prefer undisturbed outdoor hiding places that are wet and cool. During the day, these insects hide in cracks and crevices, under rocks, in logs, and within flowerbeds. Since earwigs are attracted to light, you might also find them flocking to your porch or patio lights.
While most earwigs stay outdoors, some may seek shelter in your home during drought-like conditions or when the weather gets cooler. They’ll enter your house through cracks and crevices in your walls and foundation or through open windows and doors. Once inside your house, decaying materials or items with a high cellulose content (like paper and newspapers) will be the main point of attraction for earwigs.
Whether you prefer natural or chemical treatment, here are a variety of methods to remove earwigs from your home and garden.
Here’s how you can make your home less attractive to earwigs and keep them from getting in.
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