Are Earwigs Harmful to Humans?

Reviewed on 3/11/2021

Earwigs are small, winged insects that infest gardens. They are flat brownish pests with scary pincers on their abdomen. They do not feed on human flesh or blood, so they are not dangerous.
Earwigs are small, winged insects that infest gardens. They are flat brownish pests with scary pincers on their abdomen. They do not feed on human flesh or blood, so they are not dangerous.

Earwigs are small, winged insects that infest gardens. They are flat brownish pests with scary pincers on their abdomen. The earwig gets its name from long-standing folklore that says it can climb inside the ear and lay eggs there. It was also believed that earwigs can feed on your brain once they enter through your ear. However, (fortunately) this is not true.

Earwigs are common nocturnal pests known to nibble on your dahlias or ripe apples. They do not feed on human flesh or blood, so they are not dangerous. They never bite, but may pinch humans with those pincers if they feel threatened. Their pincers are not strong and will rarely break the skin and draw blood. The pinching might cause some discomfort and redness. If the skin is broken, it is best to treat it with running water and soap and then apply an antibiotic ointment. In extremely rare cases of bites left untreated, secondary infection may develop and spread into adjoining areas causing cellulitis. The pincer has no venom, so there is no chance of reaction or hives due to the pincer.

However, they are not pleasing to the eyes and they harm your plants. Hence, they must be dealt with when they infest your home.

How to spot an earwig infestation in the house

Since they prefer warm and moist crevices in your garden and prowl at night, earwigs are difficult to spot unless there is a large number of them. The following are a few tips that may make it easier for you to spot earwigs

Foul smell: Earwigs can produce a yellowish-brown secretion when scared or crushed. This releases a strong scent, which can be an indication of the bug’s presence.

Moist and unused basements: The basement where the air is colder and there are increased chances of leakage is a likely hideout and breeding place for earwigs.

Night lights: Some species of earwigs are attracted to bright lights, so a location that has bright lights could be a good place to start, especially at night.

Dead plants and leaves: Earwigs prefer to eat dead and dying vegetation. They are commonly found in the garden where there is mulch, leaf piles and moist soil.

How to prevent an earwig infestation

Keeping the house and the surrounding areas dry and sealed is the best way to prevent an infestation. Other ways include

Seal the cracks and crevices with a silicone-based caulk, steel wool or using both. This should be done in the attic and house vents.

Use a dehumidifier and clean up cement floors to prevent earwigs from getting comfortable in moist corners around your house.

Fix any leaky pipes or drains.

Earwigs prefer a natural home outdoors that offers a quality food source and protection. Remove decaying piles of leaves and old, rotting wood that makes a safe home for earwigs. If you have any mulch, dead leaves or vegetation, attempt to keep them away from the home’s foundation. Trim trees and shrubs in your yard and keep them neat.

Are there any home remedies for earwigs?

Certain household ingredients, such as soap, soda and alcohol, may work for minor infestations. You can also try the following at home

  • Dish soap and water: Mix some liquid dish soap and water to spray down areas where you have found earwigs.
  • Rubbing alcohol and water: Mix rubbing alcohol and water together to spray on flowers and plants. This method dehydrates and kills earwigs instantly.
  • Boric acid powder: Boric acid can be dusted or mixed in water and applied to out-of-reach areas to kill earwigs when they venture into that area. Keep this mix away from the pets and children.
  • Earwig pesticideVarious pesticides, such as Sevin, malathion, pyrethrins and diatomaceous earth, may be used in your garden and in mulch with varying degrees of success.
  • Vacuuming: The safest and easiest removal method is to simply vacuum up any earwigs you come across. Be careful when you dispose of the vacuum bag. You could empty it into a bucket of water and soap solution, which will drown and kill any earwigs.

If all the above methods fail, call a licensed pest controller to help with the infestation.

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References
Medscape Medical Reference

Amateur Entomologists' Society


North Carolina Pest News


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