How to Get Rid of Earwigs in the House

Earwigs are small, brown insects with distinctive pinchers on their abdomen. While they are not dangerous, many homeowners find these uninvited guests unpleasant and want to get rid of earwigs in the house. With some knowledge of earwig behavior and biology, as well as smart prevention and control methods, you can eliminate an earwig infestation and prevent future ones.

Understanding Earwigs

To get rid of earwigs effectively, it helps to understand what attracts them and where they like to hide. Here are some key facts about earwigs:

  • Habitat – Earwigs enjoy moist, dark places with access to food sources. Outdoors they live in mulch, leaf litter, under rocks, and in crevices. Indoors they can inhabit basements, crawl spaces, garages, and first floors.
  • Reproduction – In spring, female earwigs lay eggs in the soil. Nymphs hatch in about 7 days. Earwigs develop through 4-6 nymphal stages before reaching adulthood.
  • Food sources – Earwigs are omnivores and scavengers. They eat a variety of foods including aphids, mites, plant materials, fungi, and decaying organic matter.
  • Entry points – Earwigs find their way inside through cracks, crevices, open windows, under doors, and through pipes or vents.
  • Active at night – Earwigs are nocturnal and hide during the daytime. They become more active at night to search for food.

Knowing earwig habits and behavior helps optimize control methods. Their preference for damp, dark areas and nighttime activity informs us when and where to target them.

Preventing Earwig Infestations

Prevention is the first line of defense against earwigs. Reduce conditions that attract them to your home and yard.


  • Keep mulch beds away from the foundation. If mulch is necessary, use gravel instead within 1-2 ft. of the house.
  • Trim vegetation and shrubs so they don’t touch the house.
  • Remove leaf litter, firewood piles, and other debris near the home.
  • Fix leaky faucets, pipes, or sprinklers that create moist areas.
  • Seal cracks, crevices, and openings in the foundation, walls, and roof. Use caulk, expandable foam, concrete, or metal screens. Pay special attention around windows and doors.
  • Make sure window and door screens are in good repair. Replace damaged screens.
  • Ensure gutters are cleaned out so water drains properly away from the house.
  • Fill in tree stump holes or other large cavities close to the foundation.


  • Fix plumbing leaks and drips under sinks or appliances.
  • Ventilate moist areas like basements, bathrooms, and crawl spaces. Use fans or open vents to allow airflow.
  • Drain potted plant overflow trays frequently so water does not accumulate.
  • Clean debris out of window wells and make sure weeping holes allow drainage.
  • Seal cracks along baseboards, walls, under cabinets, and around pipe penetrations.
  • Install weatherstripping under and around doors and windows to close gaps.
  • Store food in airtight containers and dispose of ripe fruit in the fridge quickly.

Making the indoor and outdoor environment less hospitable will discourage earwigs from invading and establishing populations. But additional control methods may be needed if earwigs are already present or start appearing regularly.

Killing and Removing Earwigs Indoors

If you have noticed earwigs in your house, take action right away before they multiply and disperse further. Combining removal tactics provides the best chance of eliminating them.


Since earwigs look for hiding spots during the day, meticulously vacuuming all potential harborage sites can eliminate many of them.

  • Vacuum along baseboards, under appliances, around pipes, under furniture, in closets, and in cracks or corners. Use crevice tools to access tight spaces.
  • Check window and door frames thoroughly. Pay special attention to the sills and thresholds.
  • Look in laundry and storage areas, behind furniture, and under sinks.
  • Don’t forget to vacuum garages, attics, and basements if connected to living space.
  • Seal the vacuum bag or contents well and dispose of it outside immediately so earwigs don’t escape back into the house.

Vacuuming several times over successive days will help remove survivors and newly hatched nymphs.


Traps take advantage of earwig tendencies to hide in dark, moist areas.

  • Roll up damp newspaper, corrugate cardboard, or burlap. Earwigs will crawl inside, allowing you to dispose of the whole trap.
  • Place damp cloths or paper on the floor along walls. Check them in the morning, shake earwigs off outside, and replace.
  • Inside light pyrex or metal containers, put some vegetable oil and soy sauce. The oil traps earwigs while the soy sauce lures them.
  • Buy commercially available earwig traps, or make homemade ones from plastic bottles. Add some bait like oil or fruit inside.

Check traps daily and destroy any captured earwigs. Refresh bait and move trap locations periodically to keep working down the population. Indoor trapping works best when combined with thorough vacuuming.


For heavy infestations, insecticide sprays or dusts directly applied into hiding places can kill earwigs on contact.

  • Sprays – Liquid sprays are useful for crack and crevice treatment. Spray along baseboards, floors, walls, around pipes, and in other earwig hiding spots.
  • Dusts – Dust formulations can be puffed into voids and narrow spaces where earwigs may hide. Use sparingly in light layers.
  • Products – Look for insecticides containing indoxacarb, β-cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, deltamethrin, or lambda-cyhalothrin. Follow all label instructions carefully.
  • Pet safety – If using insecticides indoors, exercise caution with pets. Remove pets during treatment and wait until products fully dry before allowing pets back inside.

Insecticide treatment works best if done at night when earwigs are active. Repeat applications may be needed weekly to control severe infestations. Always follow label directions for any insecticide and restrict use to crack and crevice treatment only.

Eliminating Earwigs Outdoors

To keep earwigs from re-entering after clearing them from the house, implement control methods in the yard and exterior. Focus on areas right next to the foundation initially.

Remove hiding spots

Earwigs congregate in moist, sheltered areas outside. Eliminating their favorite hangouts encourages them to find harborage elsewhere.

  • Rake away mulch or leaf litter near the house. Replace mulch with gravel if possible.
  • Prune back shrubs and vegetation touching the house.
  • Move wood piles, pots, and other clutter far from the foundation.
  • Clean out eaves, gutters, and downspouts so water drains away properly.
  • Fill tree hollows, cracks, and holes around the exterior with cement or gravel.

Yard insecticide treatment

Apply an insecticide labeled for earwig control around the perimeter of the home, especially near entry points like doors or windows.

  • Liquid sprays – Use a hose-end sprayer to apply insecticide around the foundation and up to several feet out into the yard, depending on the product. Apply in the evening when earwigs are active.
  • Granules – Spread granular insecticides on the ground around the foundation. Water in well after application.
  • Dusts – A light dusting around door and window frames, vents, utility openings, etc can kill earwigs traversing these areas. Avoid excessive use.
  • Products – Products containing lambda-cyhalothrin, bifenthrin, deltamethrin, or carbaryl work well for outdoor earwig control. Always read and follow label directions.
  • Prevention – Treat the perimeter, especially near entry points, in early spring to prevent earwigs migrating indoors over the summer.
  • Reapply – Reapply every 1-2 weeks if earwigs are still prevalent. Follow product label for appropriate application frequency.

Regular insecticide perimeter treatments will reduce earwig populations outside so fewer attempt to enter the house.

Eliminate outdoor lights

Earwigs are drawn to light sources at night when they are foraging. Outdoor lighting right next to the home provides an easy pathway inside.

  • Turn off unnecessary outdoor lights, especially those illuminating exterior doors or windows.
  • For essential lights, replace bulbs with yellow “bug” lights that are less attractive to insects.
  • Relocate lighting fixtures further away from the house if possible.
  • Use motion detector lights instead of lights that stay on all night.

Reducing nighttime light pollution makes the area next to the home less inviting to prowling earwigs. Coupled with insecticide and sanitation strategies, this provides multiple tactics to keep earwigs away from entry points.

Frequently Asked Questions about Eliminating Earwigs

Many homeowners have additional questions when trying to banish earwigs from the home. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

Are earwigs dangerous or harmful?

Earwigs are a nuisance pest, but they are not dangerous or able to bite or transmit disease. Their pinchers on the abdomen are mostly for show and grasping food. They are not a serious threat to people, pets, or the home itself. Their presence is merely an annoyance.

Do earwigs infest food or damage possessions?

Earwigs are unlikely to damage household items or infest unopened food. Occasionally they may nibble on silk, cotton, or other natural fibers, but this is not common behavior. Keep food sealed in airtight containers, refrigerate when possible, and dispose of ripe fruit and vegetables promptly.

How can I prevent earwigs from coming up through my drains?

Install drain covers or plugs inside sink and tub drains when not in use. Make sure overflow holes on tubs have a cover as well. Use plumber’s putty around drains to seal any gaps around the rim. Keep sink and tub drains dry and free of debris that earwigs can hide in.

What should I do if I am allergic to insecticides?

There are several non-chemical options that can be effective against earwigs:

  • Diatomaceous earth – The powder dries out the exoskeleton of earwigs. Avoid breathing it in.
  • Sticky traps – Traps made with non-toxic, sticky substances can capture earwigs for disposal.
  • Desiccant dusts – Clays or silica gels also dry out and kill earwigs upon contact.
  • Vacuuming – Frequently vacuuming and cleaning can remove populations without insecticides.

How can I keep earwigs out of my vegetable garden?

Keep the garden free of damp piles of debris earwigs could hide in. Use row covers over plants susceptible to earwig damage. Put shallow dishes of oil around the perimeter to trap earwigs roaming at night. Apply insecticides made with naturally derived ingredients like neem oil, pyrethrins, or spinosad if needed.

When during the year are earwigs most active?

In temperate regions, earwigs are primarily a pest during the warmer months. Peak activity is usually late spring through early fall, taper off in winter. They reproduce in early spring, so populations start to climb by late spring and into summer. Their life cycle dictates seasonal patterns of activity and abundance.


Getting rid of earwigs in the home involves diligence, patience, and an integrated plan of attack. The good news is that combining good sanitation, prevention tactics, and targeted control methods can successfully eliminate indoor earwig infestations and prevent new ones from occurring. Pay attention to entry points, take away food and water sources, and make the environment less hospitable to earwigs. Traps, vacuuming, and insecticides supplement exclusion and habitat modification. Outside, address lighting, clutter, vegetation, and moisture that welcome earwigs. With persistence and a comprehensive approach, homeowners can banish earwigs and keep them from returning in the future.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs in the House – The Basics

Earwigs are a common household pest during spring and summer. Though harmless, their presence can be disturbing. The good news is earwigs can be controlled and eliminated with some simple strategies. Here are the basics every homeowner should know about how to get rid of earwigs in your house.


An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to earwigs. Make your home and yard less attractive by:

  • Sealing cracks and crevices where earwigs enter
  • Keeping surfaces clean and dry
  • Moving mulch and woodpiles away from the house
  • Trimming vegetation touching exterior walls
  • Fixing leaky outdoor faucets and pipes


To remove existing earwigs:

  • Thoroughly vacuum possible hiding spots
  • Use sticky traps or make homemade traps
  • Apply insecticides into cracks and voids

Traps and vacuuming can quickly reduce numbers. Insecticides target stragglers trying to re-enter.

Outdoor Control

Don’t forget to treat outdoor entry points:

  • Apply perimeter insecticide sprays or granules
  • Remove exterior lighting attracting earwigs
  • Clean gutters and fill in holes around the foundation

With diligence indoors and out, earwigs can be successfully banished from the home for good.

Finding and Eliminating Earwigs

Once earwigs invade your home, finding and eliminating them completely can take some work. Their small size lets them hide easily. Use these tips to locate and destroy all earwigs inside.

Locating Hidden Earwigs

Methodically inspect potential hiding places:

  • Under appliances and along floorboards
  • In closets, cabinets, shelving units
  • Inside folded clothing or towels
  • Around bathroom and kitchen fixtures
  • Inside electrical outlets or switch plates
  • Behind picture frames and mirrors
  • Around pet food or water bowls
  • In house plants, especially in drainage trays
  • In basement and attics if accessible

Look in new areas at different times of day. Patience and diligence are key.

Eliminating Earwigs Effectively

To get rid of earwigs found during inspections:

  • Vacuum thoroughly, disposing of the bag outside immediately
  • Use tweezers or sticky tape to grab individual earwigs
  • Set out traps with vegetable oil or soy sauce
  • Apply insecticidal dusts into wall voids and cracks
  • Caulk or seal areas earwigs are emerging from

Keeping at it daily and attacking earwigs through multiple methods will provide the best success at total elimination inside the home.

Stopping Earwigs From Coming Inside

Earwigs live and breed outdoors but seek shelter in homes. Stopping them outside is key to preventing indoor invasions. Use these exterior control tips:


  • Remove leaf litter, firewood, and clutter near the foundation
  • Switch mulch beds to gravel within 1-2 ft. of the house
  • Prune back shrubs and trees touching exterior walls
  • Seal cracks, holes, and gaps around windows and doors
  • Clean gutters and downspouts so water flows away
  • Apply insecticide sprays or granules around perimeter

At Entry Points

  • Install door sweeps and weatherstripping if gaps present
  • Caulk and seal windows, especially bottom edges
  • Make sure screens are in good repair
  • Vacuum spider webs and bugs near doors/windows
  • Apply insecticides along thresholds

Controlling earwigs outside first is smart prevention. Fewer will attempt moving inside if their exterior habitat is less welcoming.

DIY Earwig Traps

Trapping is an easy, effective way to capture and eliminate earwigs roaming inside your home. You can buy ready-made traps, but it’s also simple to make your own. Here are some creative DIY trap ideas:

  • Oil traps – Fill jars lids with a little vegetable oil. Earwigs crawl in and cannot escape.
  • Pitfall traps – Bury a cup flush with the ground outdoors. Earwigs fall in and can’t get out.
  • Tube traps – Roll cardboard tubes or newspaper. Earwigs hide inside, allowing you to dispose of the whole tube.
  • Funnel traps – Make funnel traps from plastic bottles. Earwigs enter through the neck but can’t exit.
  • Sticky traps – Smear petroleum jelly or glue boards around potential entry points indoors. Earwigs get stuck on contact.

Get creative with trap design and materials! Combine traps with vacuuming for the best elimination of earwigs inside the home.

Using Insecticides Safely for Earwig Control

Insecticide sprays and dusts can help eliminate lingering earwig infestations. When using chemicals:

  • Carefully read and follow all label instructions
  • Only use products registered for indoor or outdoor earwig control
  • Avoid overuse – small amounts in targeted areas is best
  • Keep people and pets away during treatment until dry
  • Ventilate spaces thoroughly after applying
  • Store insecticides securely away from children/pets

Some effective active ingredients to look for include:

  • Indoxacarb
  • Lambda-cyhalothrin
  • Bifenthrin
  • Deltamethrin
  • Permethrin

Use extra caution when treating indo