A Guide To Dealing with Earwigs in Your Boise Home


Boise, Idaho, with its stunning natural landscapes and thriving community, provides an ideal setting for homeowners. However, like any area, Boise is not immune to the occasional presence of pests in homes. One such pest that Boise homeowners may encounter is the earwig. While earwigs may seem daunting to some, understanding their behavior, habits, and effective management strategies can help homeowners maintain a pest-free environment while enjoying the beauty of their Boise residence.

What Are Earwigs?

Earwigs are small insects with distinctive pincer-like appendages at the end of their abdomen. Contrary to popular belief, these pincers are not harmful to humans; they are primarily used for defense and mating. Earwigs are attracted to dark, moist environments, which is why they often find their way into homes seeking shelter, especially during hot, dry weather or after heavy rainfall.

What Do Earwigs Look Like?

Earwigs are small insects with a distinctive appearance characterized by several key features:

  1. Body Shape: Earwigs have elongated, flattened bodies that typically measure between 5 to 25 millimeters (0.2 to 1 inch) in length, depending on the species. Their bodies consist of three main segments: the head, thorax, and abdomen.
  2. Color: Earwigs are usually dark brown or black in color, although some species may exhibit variations in shade, including reddish-brown or yellowish hues. Their bodies often have a shiny or matte finish.
  3. Pincer-Like Appendages: One of the most recognizable features of earwigs is the pair of cerci (forceps-like appendages) located at the end of their abdomen. These pincer-like structures are used for defense, mating, and capturing prey. In males, the cerci are typically larger and more curved than in females.
  4. Antennae: Earwigs have long, slender antennae that protrude from their heads. These antennae are segmented and serve as sensory organs, helping earwigs detect changes in their environment, locate food, and communicate with other individuals.
  5. Wings: Adult earwigs are equipped with two pairs of wings, although not all species are capable of flight. The front pair of wings, known as tegmina, are short, leathery, and serve as protective covers for the hind wings, which are membranous and folded underneath.
  6. Size: Earwigs vary in size depending on the species and stage of development. Adult earwigs typically range from 5 to 25 millimeters (0.2 to 1 inch) in length, with females often being slightly larger than males. Nymphs (young earwigs) are smaller and may lack fully developed wings and cerci.

Overall, the combination of their elongated bodies, dark coloration, prominent cerci, and distinctive antennae make earwigs easily recognizable to those familiar with these intriguing insects.

Why Do I Have Earwigs In My Boise House?

If you're finding earwigs in your Boise house, several factors could be contributing to their presence:

  1. Outdoor Conditions: Boise's climate, characterized by hot, dry summers and cold winters, can drive earwigs to seek refuge indoors, especially during extreme weather events like heavy rainfall or drought. Changes in outdoor conditions, such as landscaping activities or disturbances to their natural habitats, may also prompt earwigs to migrate indoors in search of shelter.
  2. Moisture: Earwigs are attracted to damp environments and sources of moisture. Leaky pipes, dripping faucets, condensation, and high humidity levels in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens create ideal conditions for earwigs to thrive. If your house has areas with excess moisture or poor ventilation, it may be more susceptible to earwig infestations.
  3. Outdoor Landscaping: Landscaping features such as mulch beds, dense vegetation, and stacked firewood provide shelter and harborage for earwigs near your home. If these outdoor areas are located close to the house, earwigs may easily find their way indoors through cracks, crevices, and other entry points.
  4. Structural Vulnerabilities: Gaps around doors, windows, utility penetrations, and other openings in your home's exterior can serve as entry points for earwigs. Cracks in foundations, siding, and walls provide easy access for these small insects to enter your house and seek shelter.
  5. Outdoor Lighting: Earwigs are phototactic, meaning they are attracted to sources of light, especially at night. Outdoor lighting fixtures near your house may draw earwigs towards your home, increasing the likelihood of them finding their way indoors through open windows, doors, or other entry points.
  6. Food Sources: Earwigs feed on decaying organic matter, plant material, and small insects. If your property has abundant food sources such as compost piles, fallen leaves, or overripe fruits, it may attract earwigs and contribute to their presence in and around your house.

To address an earwig infestation in your Boise house, it's essential to identify and mitigate the underlying factors that are attracting them indoors. Implementing measures to reduce moisture, sealing entry points, maintaining outdoor landscaping, and practicing good sanitation habits can help prevent and control earwig infestations effectively. If the infestation persists or becomes severe, consider seeking professional pest control services to assess the situation and develop a tailored treatment plan for your home.

How Do I Get Rid of Earwigs?

Getting rid of earwigs in your Boise home involves a combination of preventive measures, habitat modification, and targeted control methods. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you effectively manage and eliminate earwig infestations:

1. Identify Entry Points

Inspect your home for cracks, gaps, and openings where earwigs may be entering. Seal these entry points using caulk, weatherstripping, or other appropriate materials.

2. Reduce Moisture

Address any moisture issues in your home by fixing leaks, improving ventilation, and using dehumidifiers in damp areas like basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Earwigs are attracted to moisture, so reducing humidity levels can help deter them.

3. Remove Outdoor Attractants

Clear debris, such as leaves, mulch, and woodpiles, from around the perimeter of your home. Trim overgrown vegetation and maintain a clear space between your house and landscaping to eliminate hiding places for earwigs.

4. Clean Indoors

Keep indoor areas clean and decluttered to eliminate potential food and shelter sources for earwigs. Vacuum and sweep regularly, paying special attention to cracks, crevices, and other hiding spots.

5. Use Traps

Set up homemade or commercially available traps to capture earwigs indoors. Place traps in areas where earwig activity is observed, such as under sinks, behind appliances, or in dark corners. Empty and replace traps as needed.

6. Apply Natural Remedies

Use diatomaceous earth, a natural insecticide made from fossilized diatoms, around the perimeter of your home and in areas where earwigs are active. Diatomaceous earth is abrasive to insects but harmless to humans and pets.

7. Consider Chemical Treatments

If the infestation persists or becomes severe, consider using insecticides labeled for earwig control. Apply insecticides according to the manufacturer's instructions and take appropriate safety precautions.

8. Monitor and Maintain

Regularly monitor your home for signs of earwig activity and continue implementing preventive measures to deter future infestations. Address any new entry points or moisture issues promptly to prevent re-infestation.

9. Seek Professional Help

If you're unable to control the earwig infestation on your own, or if the problem persists despite your efforts, consider contacting a professional pest control service. Pest control professionals can assess the situation, recommend appropriate treatment options, and help you develop a long-term management plan.

Calling Pest Control Professionals

If you live in Boise or the surrounding area, look no further than Affinity Pest Control. Our team of local pest exterminators is here to provide a detailed inspection of your home, work with you to create a customized treatment plan, and apply targeted products to ensure your home stays pest-free. Contact our team today to get started!

These are just a few examples of the earwig species that may be present in Boise and the surrounding areas. While some species are more common than others, the diversity of habitats in Idaho means that multiple species of earwigs can coexist in the region. Understanding the different types of earwigs and their habits can help homeowners effectively manage and control infestations if they occur.

FAQ About Earwigs in Boise

Are Earwigs Dangerous?

Earwigs are generally not considered dangerous to humans. While their appearance may be intimidating to some people, earwigs are not aggressive insects and do not pose a significant threat to human health or safety. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Pinching: Earwigs are equipped with curved pincer-like appendages called cerci, which they use for defense, mating, and capturing prey. Although these cerci may look formidable, earwigs rarely pinch humans unless they are handled or feel threatened. Even if a pinch occurs, it is typically mild and causes no lasting harm.
  2. Allergies: In rare cases, individuals may experience allergic reactions to earwigs or their shed skin fragments. Symptoms may include skin irritation, itching, or respiratory discomfort. If you have a known allergy to insects or insect bites, it's important to exercise caution around earwigs and seek medical attention if you experience any adverse reactions.
  3. Infestations: While earwigs are generally harmless on an individual basis, an abundance of earwigs indoors or in gardens can be a nuisance. They may damage plants, feed on decaying organic matter, or occasionally scavenge on household items. However, their impact is usually minimal compared to other household pests.

Overall, while earwigs may startle or inconvenience homeowners, they are not considered dangerous pests. With proper pest control measures and proactive management strategies, you can effectively control earwig populations and minimize their presence in your home and garden. If you're concerned about earwigs or other pests on your property, consider consulting with a professional pest control service for guidance and assistance.

Where Do Earwigs Hide?

Earwigs, like many insects, seek out dark, damp environments to hide during the day and become active at night. In a house, earwigs may hide in various locations, especially if these areas provide the conditions they prefer.

Here are some common places where earwigs may hide in the house:

  1. Basements and Crawl Spaces: Earwigs often seek shelter in basements and crawl spaces, where humidity levels are typically higher than in other parts of the house. They may hide in cracks and crevices in the walls or flooring.
  2. Bathrooms and Kitchens: Areas with plumbing fixtures, such as bathrooms and kitchens, can provide earwigs with access to moisture. They may hide under sinks, around pipes, or behind appliances like dishwashers and washing machines.
  3. Utility Rooms: Utility rooms, such as laundry rooms or boiler rooms, may provide hiding spots for earwigs. They may hide behind or beneath appliances and equipment.
  4. Closets and Storage Areas: Dark, cluttered spaces like closets and storage areas are attractive hiding spots for earwigs. They may hide among clothing, boxes, or other stored items.
  5. Wall Voids and Crevices: Earwigs can squeeze into small openings in walls, baseboards, and trim. They may hide in wall voids, behind wallpaper, or in gaps around doors and windows.
  6. Under Furniture: Earwigs may hide under furniture, such as couches, beds, or bookshelves, especially if these items are located near walls or in areas with low light.
  7. Behind Appliances: Earwigs may find shelter behind large appliances like refrigerators, stoves, and ovens. They can hide in gaps between the appliance and the wall or in accumulated debris.
  8. In Clutter: Cluttered areas, such as piles of papers, magazines, or boxes, provide hiding spots for earwigs. They may also hide in piles of laundry or other household clutter.

To address an earwig infestation in the house, it's important to thoroughly inspect these possible earwig habitats and take steps to eliminate or reduce them. 

What Do Earwigs Eat?

In Boise homes, earwigs primarily feed on a variety of organic materials and occasionally scavenged items. While they are not typically attracted to human food sources like other household pests such as ants or cockroaches, earwigs may consume the following:

  1. Plant Material: Earwigs are omnivorous insects that feed on a wide range of plant material. In Boise homes, they may nibble on houseplants, flowers, vegetables, fruits, and ornamental plants if given the opportunity. They are particularly attracted to decaying plant matter, such as fallen leaves or mulch, which provides both food and shelter.
  2. Dead Insects: Earwigs are opportunistic feeders and may scavenge on dead insects or other organic matter found indoors. They may also prey on small insects or arthropods if encountered.
  3. Moisture and Mold: In addition to feeding on solid organic material, earwigs are attracted to damp environments and may consume moisture or mold growth found in basements, bathrooms, kitchens, and other areas with high humidity levels.
  4. Paper and Fabric: While not a preferred food source, earwigs may occasionally chew on paper products, cardboard, or fabric if they come into contact with these materials indoors. This behavior is more likely if other food sources are scarce.
  5. Fruits and Vegetables: If left out on countertops or in unsealed containers, fruits and vegetables may attract earwigs, especially if they are overripe or beginning to decay.

It's important to note that while earwigs may consume a variety of organic materials found in homes, they are generally not considered significant pests indoors and do not cause extensive damage like some other household pests. However, their presence may still be undesirable due to their appearance and potential for nuisance. 

Are There Different Types of Earwigs in Boise?

Yes, there are several different species of earwigs that can be found in Boise and the surrounding areas of Idaho. Some of the common species of earwigs that may be encountered include:

  1. European Earwig (Forficula auricularia): This species is one of the most widespread and well-known earwigs worldwide. It is native to Europe but has been introduced to many other regions, including North America. European earwigs are dark brown to black in color and typically have reddish-brown wings. They are commonly found in gardens, flower beds, and urban areas.
  2. Ringlegged Earwig (Euborellia annulipes): The ringlegged earwig is native to North America and is commonly found in the western United States, including Idaho. It is characterized by distinctive yellowish rings on its legs and a dark brown to black body. Ringlegged earwigs prefer moist habitats such as gardens, mulch beds, and under debris.
  3. Coastal Earwig (Anisolabis maritima): Although primarily found in coastal regions, the coastal earwig can also be encountered in inland areas of the Pacific Northwest, including Idaho. It is larger than other earwig species and has a dark brown or black body with pale-colored legs. Coastal earwigs are often found in damp environments such as rotting wood, leaf litter, and garden debris.
  4. Rough Earwig (Doru taeniatum): The rough earwig is native to North America and is commonly found in western states, including Idaho. It is characterized by its rough, textured appearance and reddish-brown coloration. Rough earwigs prefer dry habitats such as grasslands, meadows, and agricultural fields.
  5. Ringed Earwig (Euborellia plebeja): This species is native to North America and can be found in various habitats, including urban areas, gardens, and agricultural fields. It is similar in appearance to the ringlegged earwig but lacks the distinctive yellow rings on its legs. Ringed earwigs are typically dark brown to black in color.
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