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Yale Park Homeowners Association

Texas AgriLife Extension Service

Kimberly Schofield
Program Specialist-Urban IPM

Irritating Earwigs Entering Structures

Earwigs are abundant in Texas and can become a pest when they invade structures during unfavorable environmental conditions.  These insects have flattened bodies, so they can easily enter through any small cracks.  However they are only accidental invaders, so they can not reproduce indoors.

Ten species of earwigs occur in Texas, but only three or four are a common problem (the ringlegged earwig, Euborellia annulipes (Lucas), the riparian earwig, Labidura riparia (Pallas), the linear earwig, Doru lineare (Eschscholtz), and the brown-winged earwig, Vostox brunneipennis (Serville)).  They range in size from ¼ to 1 ¼ inches and are brown to black in color.  All earwigs have a pair of hardened abdominal forcep-like appendages that can pinch.  Adult earwigs also have a short, leathery pair of wings and a second pair of membranous wings that may be folded underneath the first pair.

Earwigs are active at night and seek dark places to rest during the day, such as underneath rocks, bark, and plant debris.  They feed mostly on dead and living insects and mosses, lichens, algae and fungi.  When found indoors, they feed on sweet, oily and greasy foods.

Earwigs usually do not harm humans, but they can emit a foul-smelling, yellowish-brown liquid from their scent glands.  It is a superstition that the insect would enter the ear of a person and bore into the brain.

Some Control Options:

Some Non-Chemical Control Options:
  1. Eliminate any moist conditions such as in crawl spaces under homes, around outside faucets, air conditioning units and other places.
  2. Keep grass and weeds cut short around foundations.
  3. Reduce outside lights at night, since these tend to attract earwigs.
  4. Use caulk and weather-stripping around doors, windows, pipes and other places to exclude them from crawling indoors.
Some Chemical Control Options:
Usually large populations of earwigs do not develop, so chemical control is not needed.  However if chemical control is desired, insecticides should be applied outdoors around foundations, in flower beds and under subfloor crawl spaces to limit earwig entry into structures.  Insecticides such as those containing pyrethrins, permethrin or bifenthrin can be used.  Indoor applications have limited value, since earwig populations do not establish indoors.

ring-legged earwig, Euborellia annulipes
Photo of ring-legged earwig, Euborellia annulipes (Lucas)
(Dermaptera: Carcinophoridae).

Photo by Bart Drees, Professor and Extension Entomologist,
Texas A&M University.

Mention of commercial products is for educational purposes only and does not represent endorsement by Texas AgriLife Extension or The Texas A&M University System.  Insecticide label registrations are subject to change, and changes may have occurred since this publication was printed.  The pesticide user is always responsible for applying products in accordance with label directions.  Always read and carefully follow the instructions on the container label.

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