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Extension > Yard and Garden News > Earwigs Are Active Now

Earwigs Are Active Now

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

People have been commonly reporting European earwigs recently. An earwig is about 5/8 - 3/4 inch long, with a flat, reddish brown body and very short wings. They are beetle-like and are sometimes confused with cockroaches. However, it's easy to identify an earwig as they have forcep-like pincers on the tip of its abdomen: males have stout, curved pinchers while females possess more slender, straight pincers. Despite these pinchers, earwigs are harmless to people and our property.

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Photo 1: Female European earwigs. Jeff Hahn.

Earwigs love to be in dark, confined, damp areas and are found under potted plants, leaves, welcome mats, in cracks between pavers and similar places. They may also be found on plants in tight, protected areas. They are mostly active at night when they feed on decaying plant tissue, live and dead insects, as well as live plants. Occasionally, earwigs can be a pest when they feed on flower blossoms. They are also reported to attack corn silk and seedlings.

People are most concerned about earwigs when they come into their homes. To keep them out, caulk and repair any obvious spaces, cracks, or gaps around the outside of your home, especially at ground level. Also clean up debris around the house that earwigs can hide under, such as leaves and plant debris. It may also be useful to thin out or remove mulch to reduce earwig numbers. You can supplement this with a residual insecticide treatment, e.g. permethrin or cyfluthrin, around the perimeter of the building. However, if earwigs are determined, some will still get inside your home. For those interlopers, just remove them with a vacuum or a broom and dust pan.

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