Earwigs are nocturnal, insects spending the day hidden in cracks and crevices, under leaf debris and in other dark locations.

With over 20 species of earwigs found in the United States, there are three main earwigs commonly found in the coastal area of South Carolina:

  1. European
  2. Ring-legged
  3. Striped

Earwigs feed on a wide range of food sources, including plants, other insects, and even small animals. They are active at night and hide in dark, moist places during the day. Some species are solitary, while others live in groups.

In addition to their forceps, earwigs are also known for their unique mating habits. In some species, the male will care for the eggs and defend them until they hatch. This is a rare behavior in the insect world and has earned it a reputation as attentive and protective parents.

Overall, earwigs are fascinating insects with a long history of cultural significance and are important members of many ecosystems. Yet, despite their somewhat intimidating appearance, they are relatively harmless and play important roles as predators and decomposers in the natural world.

What Are Earwigs?

Earwigs, also known as pincher bugs, are insects belonging to the order Dermaptera. They are characterized by their distinctive forceps-like appendages, or cercis, located on their abdomen. These forceps are used for various purposes, including defense and capturing prey.

Their name comes from the old superstition that they may crawl into the ears of people as they sleep and burrow into the brain.

What Habitats Do They Prefer?

Earwigs generally prefer damp, moist areas under decaying wood, rocks and are found in various habitats, including gardens, forests, and fields.

What Do Earwigs Look Like?

They have a long narrow body, are reddish brown and grow to be about 5/8th of an inch in length.  Their most distinctive feature is the two “cerci” (pinchers) that extend off of their hind end.  Males have curved cerci and females have straight cerci; these cerci are used to defend themselves against each other.

Why Do Earwigs Infest Structures?

Earwigs, like silverfish and other occasional invaders, usually live outside, but when the weather isn’t good for them, they often move inside; if the temperature rises too high or it is very dry outside. They can enter homes through foundation cracks or under exterior doors. They might also get into newspapers, boxes, potted plants, and other things that come in from the outside by accident.

Despite their intimidating appearance, earwigs are generally harmless to humans and do not cause significant damage to crops or structures. However, they can be a nuisance when they invade homes in large numbers. In such cases, they can be controlled using insecticides or natural methods, such as sealing cracks and crevices to prevent them from entering the home.

Do they bite?

No, they do not have biting mouth parts and, therefore, are not capable of biting.

Are earwigs dangerous?

No, earwigs are not considered to be dangerous.  Earwigs do have pinchers that they use to defend themselves but those pinchers are not strong enough to cause pain or harm to people.

A urban legend has earwigs crawling into people’s ears at night while they are asleep and burrowing in their brain in order lay eggs.  An interesting story but completely false.  Earwigs are a nuisance pest, nothing more.

Earwig control

If you’re dealing with pesky earwigs in your home, there’s a handy household trick you can try. You can use fish oil, like tuna fish oil, or vegetable oil with a drop of bacon grease to lure them in. These oils act like irresistible magnets for those earwigs. To make the trap even more effective, sink the cans into the ground so that the top is level with the soil. Once you’ve caught those sneaky critters, just empty the cans and refill them with fresh oil. It’s a simple yet effective way to bid farewell to those earwigs bothering you.

To help keep earwigs out of your home, avoid mulching more than 2 inches deep, avoid a surplus of large rocks throughout your yard, clean out rain gutters, and set up dehumidifiers in damp areas throughout your home.

If you continue to experience issues with controlling earwigs, we recommend contacting a pest control company for help.  At Barrier Pest Services, we offer residential pest control services that target earwigs and other bugs that become a pest around homes.  Our services are completed in a timely manner by highly trained, friendly technicians.

Earwig prevention tips

Making your property unattractive to earwigs is the best way to prevent an earwig problem.  Below are a few tips to help prevent Earwigs from entering your home:

  • Fix any leaking pipes or fixtures.
  • Run dehumidifiers in the basement, crawl space and other areas where humidity levels are high.
  • Remove any piles of leaves, grass, and other organic materials from around the house and yard.
  • Keep firewood off the ground and away from the house.
  • Seal cracks in the foundation and caulk gaps around windows and doors and any other openings.
  • Install door sweeps on all exterior doors.

Remember, when it comes to pest and termite control in Charleston, SC, Barrier Pest Services is your first line of defense.

Disclaimer: This webpage is for informational purposes only and does not constitute professional pest control advice. For expert guidance on earwig infestations, contact Barrier Pest Services.