Pincer bugs aka Earwigs

Over the years as a bug man you get pretty good at figuring out what bug a customer is trying to describe just from a few tell tale words. Of course there is the other side to this where they say. “It’s black and has wings and I think it has teeth,what is it?” Then maybe even the best of us need a little more information.

The earwig is one that is almost always described as having ‘pinchers’. Technically it’s ‘pincers’ but nobody really calls them that. Some will say they are on the front and others will tell you they are the size of a pair of pliers but pinchers none the less is always a key word that leads me to an answer for my client.

The pinchers on an Earwig are almost completely harmless, I say almost because they can arch their backs and give you a wee tiny prick. So on the scale of harmless they are about a 0.001.

Actually the pinchers are used in their little world for defense, capturing and holding the prey that they catch so they can eat them and it’s also how you can tell the boys from the girls. For the most part Earwigs eat just a little of everything including plant leaves, other insects, dog food, garbage or organic material. Usually the leaf damage they do is very little and you wouldn’t notice much if any of your pets food missing if it weren’t for the occasional Earwig who gets trapped in the slippery bowl.

Preferring to feed at night this insect would rather be left alone but their high need for moisture can bring them into our homes from time to time. There are occasions where the ‘nuisance’ becomes a full fledged invasion and that is about the only time you really need to consider some type of control method.

The $64,000 dollar question / How to get rid of Earwigs?

I’m often asked this question and I see it on forums and comment sections of web sites all the time. The biggest reasons that Earwigs are entering your home are for food and for moisture. Eliminate those two and you’ll be left with only the few who just wander in by chance. Now you might be saying, “I don’t live in a moist house, why would they come in my home?” The answer is simply that they don’t know your home is not some Mecca for a nice moist bed of leafy green plants they can eat. They just know that outside it may be to dry and they’ve got to go on the move to find what they need. Or sometimes the sprinkler head may be pointed towards your home and the excess moisture in your mulch allows them to build up in large numbers and as they wander they find a crack or slip in under the door thinking they’ll find much of the same environment inside. Regardless the common denominator is the moisture and they are always in search of it. Food is the other reason and there is not much you can do about plant leaves or organic material. You can however try to limit leaving pet food just outside the door or inside next to the sliders. They will find it every time and once they have their fill it’s off to your bedroom to hopefully catch the Tonight show with Conan O’Brien.(He’s quite good) There are other helpful hints in this category that you can read up on that will help a great deal. Most often a simple crack and crevice treatment and a little baiting outside will be all that’s required from your pest control professional and the problem should subside. One other home remedy that I hear works quite well is to dampen some newspapers and roll it up. Place the paper just outside where you think you have Earwigs and they will crawl into the papers seeking moisture and die. I’m not sure if it’s the ink that kills them or the story about the economy on page two but according to some old timers I know, they say it works.

Whenever I see an Earwig in my home I almost always try to scoop him (or her) up and put them back outside. The benefits of having them far out weigh the need for getting out my 300 feet of hose and blasting the exterior of my house with 30 gallons of insecticide. I used to pick them up with my fingers but then I got pinched a few times so now I use a dust pan or piece of paper. I guess you might say I have a low pain tolerance.

About The Bug Doctor

Jerry Schappert is a certified pest control operator and Associate Certified Entomologist with over two and a half decades of experience from birds to termites and everything in between. He started as a route technician and worked his way up to commercial/national accounts representative. Always learning in his craft he is familiar with rural pest services and big city control techniques. Jerry has owned and operated a successful pest control company since 1993 in Ocala,Florida. While his knowledge and practical application has benefitted his community Jerry wanted to impart his wisdom on a broader scale to help many more. was born from that idea in 2007 and has been well received. It is the goal of this site to inform you with his keen insights and safely guide you through your pest control treatment needs.

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  • Hi Kathy, Have you tried Niban bait? It’s a granule bait that you can scatter around and they’ll eat it up. I’m sure you can find some online or at a DIY store.

  • Angel_bh_2000

    Thank you. I was unfamiliar with what kinda of bug it was. At least they are not dangerous, which was my concern. My daughter is an animal lover, bugs included, so she has me catch and release any bugs that wander in. But they still creep me out!

  • I’m glad it helped- catch & release often changes as they get older lol,

  • Chris Tate

    Thank you! I found one of these in my house and was scared to death. at least I know it won’t kill me lol

  • Glad to help.

  • Gianna

    i have a million out side in my backyard i sprayed to get ride of them i dont no wear they are coming from .. i think from my neighbors pool .. sometim es there in my dogs water bowl what else should i do ?

  • Baiting or traps will work great.

  • Cjrocks25

    I for sure thought their “pinchers” would hurt! I saw one in my shower and got out as soon as I saw it!!!!! Lol

  • Nope, he just wanted a drink and meant no harm. ūüėČ

  • Kmlockwood89

    Do they happen to feed on animails feces? Our house is totally infested with earwigs, and really bad in our basement¬† where our cats litter box is and sometimes my little chihuahua uses our basement as a bathroom. Our basement isnt damp, and we really don’t have plants around our house so it is the only thing I can think of. Will bug bombing help at all? Or is that just a temporary fix? Anything will help! I am sick of finding them in my clothes towels and bed!

  • They will feed on feces and just about anything else. The problem is an outside one coming in even if you aren’t the most inviting house. Dampness (moisture) is there #1 calling card and that occurs naturally under normal circumstances in soil and especially basements. I’d attack them outside around the foundation with baits such as Niban which you can get online or at a DIY pest control store. Then if you have mulch or heavy grass close to the foundation you should turn the mulch over (rake it) and thin out the heavy grass etc. A pro can rod down into the soil to get those below the surface to get the burrowing ones and then of course–look to seal up all the cracks and gaps you can.

    Also, bug bombing won’t even be much of a temporary fix so I wouldn’t waste to much time & $ on that.

  • TateW

    Well, not that I know they wont bother my I don’t mine them so much,¬†except¬†wen the little things try getting into my toilet paper! I do have a question though, do they have a¬†tendency¬†of staying in one area such a a room or are they more¬†mobile¬†and will try to adventure through a house?

  • Moisture or food–they’re always on the hunt for either or. Once inside a dryer enviroment like your house however. The need for moisture takes over and that’s one reason you find them in bathrooms quite a bit. But there isn’t really any pattern they follow, just things like smells, light or humidity (moisture in the air) that they’ll key in on and follow.

  • Josef Ntim

    I have a question. Would a room with an air conditioning unit be a moisture attractant for these pests? I haven’t seen several in my room that has an AC unit, but there have been a couple.

  • Pingback: Getting Rid of Earwigs Naturally « PMG Holdings()

  • Yep, if it provides moisture- they will come.

  • Katie

    I just noticed a nasty earwig in my coffee maker. it looks like its been there for days yuck. i make coffee everyday the steaming hot water killed it. no wonder my coffee taste weird. gross am I going to die?? just the thought of drinking that coffee makes me want to barf.

  • Yea-that’s gross to think about but I doubt any harm was done-no immanent death lol.

  • stephanie

    lately i’ve been finding them everywhere in the house i live in. and at the same time, the room that my roommate’s friend’s baby sleeps in has had a lot, and now her baby has little bites all over the place. earwigs?

  • Stephanie,
    Earwigs don’t generally bite but they do have ‘biting/chewing’ mouthparts –their pincers are generally for show/defense/catching prey– So if it is earwigs my first thought is they sense perhaps the bottled milk in the crib and are getting in for that and “maybe” biting if they think they have a meal— That said–I really doubt that they are the culprit but I wanted to give you a reason at least why it’s possible…. Slide the crib away from the wall and perhaps put a pie tin under each leg and a small amount of oil or water in it–this will keep the baby safe from bugs climbing up that way.. For your earwig problem in the rest of the house–please see this article as I think you’ll get all the help you need.

    Don’t forget to check the babies bed for another bug that could be causing this–I don’t believe it is earwigs but I could be wrong.

  • Shay

    I had an exterminator come spray inside and out but I am still seeing them. I see about one a day in the morning…usually in the kitchen in the sink or near the cabinets. I bought some Ortho Home Defense from Home Depot. If I use this will it interfere with what the exterminator put down?

  • Baits would be rendered useless if sprayed but other sprays shouldn’t be bothered–why not just let them handle it and give it some time? Just a thought

  • ashley

    Can they crawl into your vagina ??? Please dont laugh at me!!! I know it sounds crazy but the other day I woke up and sat on the edge of the bed and when I got up I saw one rite where I was JUST sitting (I didn’t have any panties on.. just had sex..) now my vagina won’t stop itching & I’m sore down there but I haven’t been scratching ūüôĀ do u think it could’ve crawl inside me and laid eggs or another one could be in there please help I’m sooo scared

  • Probably time to make a Doctors appointment. Or two.

  • Holly

    How do you get rid of them they are everywhere I just
    found when in my cereal ewwww yuck help

  • Lori

    I just bought a bunch of flowers in pots & when I went to plant them, tons of these bugs came crawling out of about 3 of the pots. I still planted the flowers, bugs & all. Will they die since I “buried” them when I planted or will they survive & more importantly, kill the flowers that I just spent 3 hours planting?

  • They’ll live more than happily… try some Niban baits–then–not so happy

  • Tons of info for you on my other earwig articles…little bit of detective work and then application but with knowledge comes power..

  • Ty

    Did u ever find out what happend? Just curious.

  • miichele shick

    i have only seen a few and it is always when i feel a slight sting and go to rub my skin. i am sure the little “buggers” are the ones biting me i will end up with a very small bump that itches for about a week. i am however the kind of person that gets a spider bite and it is inflamed and itches for weeks at a time. i have been told that it may be because i am a diabetic and when my sugar is high i can at times smell sweet.

  • carol

    I THINK THIS IS WHAT I HAVE….BUT THEY ARE IN MY GAS GRILL EVERYTIME I OPEN IT UP. when I LIGHT THE GRILL YOU can hear little popping sounds. Why are they in there?

  • Paul Morris Marks

    It depends on the type, shape and moister level of the Vagina. if you could send pictures of it in various angles, and distances, i can tell you… Sincerly Dr. Long Dong….

  • Paul Morris Marks

    Now perhaps?? you sat on the poor critter, and its huge pinchers taught you a lesson, Careful where you sit in the future on a serious note…Your post was as crazy as why i was researching earwigs.. my dog finds them and somehow picks them up and spits them out for hours, with out destroying their bodies, but until they are dead… then eats them, after making a huge slobber mess on the floor couch etc… i thought they might be giving her the Toad Licking effect.. Wierd

  • Paul Morris Marks

    She should air out her vagigi and have it sprayed…

  • Paul Morris Marks

    bait the Vagina??? OMG

  • Paul Morris Marks


  • CrazyKawaiiRoblox

    these creepy things are all over my house, I was trying to eat some left over potatos and guess who was sitting in the bowl. I swear they are climbing through my vents.