What Is an Earwig?
If you’ve ever seen a bug with rather large pincers on its abdomen, chances are you’ve seen an earwig. While these bugs have a frightening appearance, their name is quite the misnomer. Coming from the Old English words eare and wicga, which mean ear and insect, folklore suggested that these insects would travel into a person’s ear and lay eggs. Although it could be possible in theory, the chances of this happening are slim to none. Earwigs do not cause harm to humans and do not carry any type of disease, nor do they bite. The only possible harm they could cause to a human is a pinch delivered by their back forceps, and they will usually only pinch in defense. Although the pinch can hurt, these insects are not poisonous, so getting pinched is just painful, rather than harmful. Earwigs are usually identified by their two large pincers on their abdomen, but they also have flat red, black, or brown bodies with yellowish legs. Female earwigs have straight pincers while males' pincers are curved.
Earwigs use these pincers to capture their prey and for defense. Although many species of earwigs have wings, they don’t usually fly. Earwigs look like this:
Earwigs like dark, moist areas in your home and garden. They are omnivores and like to eat smaller insects as well as mold and seedlings.
Is an Earwig a Pest?
This can be a tricky question. Earwigs are both not a pest and a pest, depending on their numbers. Outside in your garden, small numbers of earwigs can help remove harmful garden pests by hunting them. Earwigs also enjoy eating decaying plant matter. However, in large numbers, earwigs can wipe out seedlings, and gardens full of vegetable produce or ornamental plants. Earwigs aren’t very helpful inside of a home and their appearance can cause concern.
Why Do I Have Earwigs?
If you’re seeing a large number of earwigs outside, it most likely means you have a healthy population of garden pests, decaying plants and trees, or a vivacious garden. These three food sources can draw earwigs into your garden. If your trees and plants are decaying, having a large number of earwigs can be a sign they are dying from the inside out. Often gardeners will think that earwigs are eating through the wood of their trees and causing them to die. Unfortunately, the earwigs aren’t the cause of the tree decaying. If you see earwigs on or inside of your trees, it is usually because your trees are already dying and earwigs are interested in eating the decaying wood.
Inside of your home is a different story, however. Earwigs are brought into homes through potted plants, wet cardboard, and wet newspapers. They will also travel inside when the outside temperatures become too hot or cold for them and so they try to find suitable areas to inhabit. These insects will stay inside if they find moist areas, such as overwatered plants, a cluttered and damp basement or garage, or by leaking faucets or in windowsills.
How to Get Rid of an Earwig Infestation
If you are trying to get rid of an earwig infestation in your garden, try using diatomaceous earth, a type of sedimentary rock that, when crumbled, can prevent earwigs from climbing onto your plants and eating them. Sprinkle it around your plants for the best possible outcome.
If you’re trying to get rid of an earwig infestation inside of your home, make sure to clean up any moist and cluttered areas that would provide a home for the earwigs. If you have numerous potted plants, you can unpot the plants and remove the earwigs and eggs from the roots.
If you have a home warranty plan that includes pest control, you can call and open a service request for a pest control specialist to come out to your home and spray for earwigs.
Home Warranties and Earwig Infestations
Some home warranty plans from Landmark cover pest control. If you have a home warranty plan from Landmark that does cover this pest control, you can open a service request for $60-$100 and have a professional pest control specialist spray your home for earwigs. When comparing this cost to that of a professional without a home warranty, you’d be paying around $300 for a spray, so you’ll be saving at least $200 using your home warranty plan! Learn more about costs of home repair with and without a home warranty here, and take a look at Landmark’s pest control plans here.