Earwigs In Houston: Keeping Them Out Of Your Home
Earwig crawling on wood.

Earwigs In Houston: Keeping Them Out Of Your Home

What Do Earwigs In Houston Look Like?

Houston is an exciting place to live – the culture, the art, the music, the people – there’s so much to appreciate in this diverse and energetic city. However, Houston homeowners face their fair share of challenges, and the presence of pests is certainly one of them. 

Pest infestation is a year-round issue for Greater Houston property owners. There are all kinds of different pests here in Houston, and it’s important to be familiar with some of the local invaders so that you’re more prepared to protect your home from infestation. Our homes are exposed to a variety of occasional invaders, which are insect species that infest indoor spaces in large numbers, especially when their living conditions outside have become unfavorable. One of the most common occasional invaders in the area is earwigs.

Earwigs are small insects that are attracted to moisture and can usually be found in humid places that are dark and damp. Earwigs are commonly found under rocks, in tree holes, in piles of decaying matter or debris, and bags of dirt, fertilizer, or mulch. They tend to migrate indoors when the weather gets cooler and conditions become too dry. 

Not only can earwigs be a real nuisance, but they can compromise your lawn, garden, and house plants. That’s why it’s a good idea to address your earwig control needs. The first step to effective earwig control is understanding what these invaders look like. While there are various earwig species out there, which we’ll get to in a bit, there are some general characteristics that you should be familiar with.

Here are some basic identifying features to help you in your earwig detection efforts:

  • Body - Earwigs have flat bodies with three segments, two antennae, and six legs.

  • Wings - Earwigs have wings, but they seldom fly. Along with their forewings, they have an additional pair of membranous wings folded underneath them. 

  • Pincers - Earwigs have two appendages that stick out of their abdomen called cerci or pincers. These are forceps that earwigs use to pinch predators and defend themselves. The forceps are more curved in males than in females.

  • Mouth - Earwigs use their chewing mouthparts to catch and feed on insects.

  • Color - Earwigs are usually dark brown or black in color and sometimes have a reddish tint to them or red stripes across their body. Depending on the species, appearances can vary.

Now that we have an idea of what earwigs look like in general let’s get down to specifics. There are 22 species of earwigs in the United States and about ten here in the state of Texas, although only four or five of them are household earwigs that you may find on your property. Some of the most common earwigs species in the area are ringlegged earwigs, riparian earwigs, and linear earwigs.

We’ve gathered together some of the basics to assist you in your earwig identification efforts:

Ringlegged Earwig

  • They are dark brown, wingless, and measure 0.4 - 0.6 inches long.

  • Their pale yellow legs have dark bands/rings on the segments.

  • They lay their eggs in a small cell located in the soil.

  • A complete generation of them only takes about 60 days to develop.

  • Females lay up to seven clusters of eggs with 40-50 eggs per batch.

  • They’re omnivorous pests that feed on plants and animal materials.

  • They eat succulent plants, roots, potatoes, and other vegetables in your garden.

  • They also eat insects like sowbugs, caterpillars, beetle larvae, and each other.

  • They contaminate produce, leaving feces on leafy, green vegetables.

Riparian Earwig

  • They’re also referred to as common brown earwigs or striped earwigs.

  • They are light brown/tan, much lighter in color than other earwig species.

  • They can be characterized by a pair of stripes going down their back.

  • They’re commonly found near lakes, ponds, and in debris around the shore.

  • They feed on living and dead insects such as millipedes, spiders, and caterpillars.

  • Their bodies measure about 3/4 to 1-inch long, much larger than some species.

  • To ward off predators, they defend themselves by emitting a putrid pheromone.

Linear Earwig

  • As agricultural pests, they can cause severe damage to your crop.

  • They have long, narrow bodies with cerci on their abdomen.

  • Their bodies are dark in color, with two thick yellow stripes down either side of their body.

  • They live in damp, dark locations during the day and come out to feed at night.

  • They emerge during the night to spend time in moisture-rich areas.

  • They can also be found in remote places like bags of garbage and pet bowls.

  • They’re largely destructive to vegetation and common garden plants.

  • They give off a tar-like odor when they’re disturbed or threatened.

  • They also like to hide in decaying leaves and the bark at the base/trunks of trees. 

  • They feed on flower buds and petals, killing off plants and compromising your garden.

If you suspect any earwig activity around your Houston home, it’s essential to reach out to Houston pest control experts. That’s the only guaranteed way to deal with earwig infestation and prevent infestation around your home. If you’re wondering what it is that brought earwigs into your home in the first place, we can provide some insight. While no homeowner intends to attract pests, certain conditions are conducive to infestation.

What Attracts Earwigs To Your Houston Home?

Earwigs are moisture pests, meaning they need moisture to survive. They are attracted to humid places that are dark and damp; this includes areas with excess moisture, mold, moisture damage, or rotting/damaged wood. While earwigs prefer to stay outside, they do sometimes find their way inside of your house.

With their flat bodies, it’s easy for earwigs to slip through tiny cracks and crevices around your home. They tend to find their way inside when weather conditions are too dry or cold. Some of the most common places where earwigs are found include:

  • Basements and crawlspaces

  • Compost and waste bins

  • In potted plants both indoors and outdoors

  • Laundry rooms and bathrooms

  • On packages and newspapers

  • Picnic tables and patios

  • Underneath lawn furniture

  • Underneath sinks and appliances

  • Window frames and floorboards

Considering the fact that earwigs are drawn to moisture, you should be wary of earwig infestation not only for the invasive pest aspect but also for the implications of moisture damage. If you have earwigs in your home, you may be some real moisture problems that need to be addressed throughout your property.

Five Myths About Earwigs

There are a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings about earwigs and what they’re capable of. We get many questions about these nocturnal invaders, and the truth is, there are a lot of myths floating around out there about earwigs. That’s why we’re here to put these rumors to bed.

  1. MythEarwigs nest in human ears and lay eggs in our brains. One common myth claims that earwigs like to burrow into human ears and lay eggs in your brain. Despite their suggestive name, this is simply not true. Earwigs definitely don’t nest in human ears, and they don’t feed on our brains, so we can put that rumor to rest.

  2. MythEarwigs are aggressive creatures. This isn’t true at all. They’re actually more afraid of us than we are of them. They usually run away at the sight of a human, and they only pinch in self-defense, typically when they are picked up. That’s why it’s important not to disturb them or get too close to them, and never try to smush them because they emit a very putrid odor when they’re crushed.

  3. MythEarwigs are dangerous because they can bite. This is simply not true. While earwigs are capable of biting, they rarely do. When they do bite, they don’t even leave puncture wounds because they don’t draw any blood. They simply pinch and hold onto the skin, leaving it red and swollen. It can cause discomfort, but they aren’t venomous, and their pinches heal quickly.

  4. MythEarwigs are seasonal pests. This is a common misconception. Earwigs may seem more common in the spring months because that’s when they enter our homes, but they exist on our property all year long. They go inside during the colder months and lay their eggs in clusters, which hatch in two weeks’ time. The speed of their development depends on the temperature of their environment. Areas with high humidity and warm temperatures can experience a higher number of infestations and larger earwig populations.

  5. MythEarwigs only feed on outdoor food sources. Many people assume that earwigs only eat insects and plants, but that’s not actually true. While earwigs do mostly feed on living and dead insects, and they hang out in humid areas where bacteria, algae, and fungi grow, they also feed on indoor food sources. Earwigs can feed on various household items such as greasy, sweet, and oily foods and houseplants.

How To Keep Your Houston Home Earwig-Free

When earwigs invade in large numbers, it can become unmanageable for any homeowner. Not only are they a nuisance, but they can also ruin vegetation throughout your property, as well as house plants and food sources. Not to mention they’re indicative of a more significant moisture problem, so suffice it to say no one wants to deal with earwig activity. 

The best approach to effective earwig control is to be as proactive as possible. To be proactive in your efforts to keep earwigs out of your Houston home, there are some things you can do. Taking the following preventative measures in and around your property can greatly reduce your chances of experiencing an earwig infestation:

  • Clear the yard of organic debris, branches, leaves, etc.

  • Clean your rain gutters and make sure they function properly.

  • Clear away any decaying plants in or outside the house. 

  • Close sink and bathtub drains when not in use.

  • Don’t allow shrubbery to touch the structural foundation of your house.

  • Keep moist areas in or around your home as dry as possible.

  • Keep outside lights off at night as it will attract earwigs.

  • Maintain minimal mulch in and around your yard.

  • Reduce moisture around the home by setting up dehumidifiers in damp areas.

  • Reduce the presence of stones in your yard as earwigs like to hide under them.

  • Remove any rotting wood from your property.

  • Repair leaky faucets or faulty drains and plumbing.

  • Seal off any cracks or points of entry around the perimeter of the house.

  • Sprinkle boric acid in cracks and slits where earwigs might come inside.

  • Store food in tightly sealed containers and don’t leave any pet food or water outside overnight.

  • Use chemical insect repellants to prevent earwigs around your lawn if necessary.

  • Use mesh and caulking to seal openings in windows, doors, pipes, and other entry points.

  • Vacuum regularly and promptly wipe up any spills from the stovetop or counter.

  • Vacuum up any active earwigs that may be found inside the house.

These preventative measures can help you minimize your exposure to earwig activity, but none of them are entirely guaranteed to work on their own. If you’re looking for 100% effective, reliable protection from earwigs and other occasional invaders, the smartest thing you can do is to call on the pest experts.

Modern Pest Control is your best source of earwig protection in Houston. We provide complete earwig control and prevention services that you can rely on all year long. Our residential and commercial pest control solutions cover you from earwig infestation all year long.

Our process begins with a thorough inspection to determine the areas where earwigs are living on your property. From there, we customize a residential pest control solution just for you. Our team of experienced pest professionals will design a treatment plan customized for your property to help control the earwig populations. Whatever your earwig problem, we’re here to help. Get in touch with us to learn more about our services and how we can be of help.

Share To: