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Extension > Yard and Garden News > Earwigs are temporary nuisance

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Earwigs are temporary nuisance

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist
Adult earwig.  Note the pincers on the tip of the abdomen.
Photo: Jeff Hahn, UMN Extension

Some people across the state have been encountering earwigs on their property this month. While most people recognized these insects, some were not sure what they had found. Earwigs are distinctive looking. They are about 5/8 inch long, beetle-like, with a flat, reddish brown body and very short wings. The feature that makes them easy to identify is the conspicuous pinchers (cerci) on the tip of their abdomen. 

Most questions deal with earwigs as nuisance invaders into homes and other buildings (some people also have problems with them in their gardens damaging plants).  Earwigs can enter buildings, sometimes in large numbers. Although they do not cause any actual damage, they are annoying and people want to control them. If you are having problems with earwigs in your homes, try these steps to minimize them.

You can reduce the number that is outside by using traps in the landscape. This could be with rolled up newspapers, cardboard tubes, or similar objects set up outside where you find earwigs. They will crawl inside these objects by early morning in order to hide. You can then shake them into a pail of soapy water to dispose of them.

Check around the outside of your home and seal or repair any openings or gaps you find that allows earwigs to get inside. Check particularly around the foundation, windows and doors. Also examine where the siding and foundation meet as well as the areas around water faucets and vents. If you are finding large numbers, you can supplement this with an insecticide application around the exterior the home, e.g. permethrin.

Once they get inside, the only practical control is physical removal.  Vacuum them or sweep them up.  The good news is that they do not reproduce indoors and will eventually go away on their own sometime during August.

For more information, see European earwigs in homes and gardens.

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