July 11, 2023

Understanding an Earwig's Diet: What They Eat!

Earwigs are creepy critters that may invade your home and garden, looking for organic plant matter and other small insects. 

While relatively harmless, these pests can still wreak havoc on the plants in your home and yard. Plus, their sharp pincers are nothing to scoff at, either. 

Understanding an earwig's diet will help you eliminate what they eat in your home and employ preventative measures to keep their populations at bay. Keep reading to find out what an earwig eats and what you can do to eliminate them around your home.

Where Do Earwigs Live?

Earwigs typically prefer to spend their time outdoors in damp mulch in your yard or garden. You can usually encounter these pests hiding in soaked leaf litter, under rocks and stones, or around decaying vegetation.

While they primarily reside outdoors, they are occasional invaders that may sneak inside homes through cracks. Because of their preference for moisture-rich spaces, they’ll flock to any indoor area that’s frequently damp, like bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and garages. 

Earwigs are occasional invaders, so homeowners shouldn’t see them indoors too often. However, extreme weather conditions, accidental introductions, or viable indoor food sources could encourage them to invade homes. 

If you see earwigs inside, there’s a good chance these creepy pests may have entered through unseen gaps in your home’s exterior, windows, or doors. Similarly, the earwigs could've hitched a ride if you’ve recently moved wood piles or flowers inside. 

These pests are frightening to see, but they’re relatively harmless. Earwigs can’t cause home damage and will only potentially harm indoor and outdoor plants. Just avoid mishandling an earwig; their pincers can cause a sharp pinch.

An Earwig's Diet Outdoors

Earwigs are attracted to rotting organic material and other vegetation. You could see them near fruit trees and crops left idle, as well as in rotting wood, leaves, and other plant matter. 

You may also see earwigs congregating around the base of plants with large, showy blossoms, such as honeysuckles, dogwoods, and many flower species. Although they will occasionally eat petals, earwigs primarily consume seedlings and leaves

If the earwig population in your lawn or garden grows significantly large, you could see noticeable damage to your outdoor plants. Besides preying on fruits, vegetables, and flowers, these insects may also destroy bushes or other shrubberies.

Earwigs also regularly consume small insects– both living and dead. As decomposers, earwigs prey on decaying organic matter, like dead bugs, leaf litter, and rotting wood. They won’t turn their nose up at any insect that scurries by, though, and will snack on aphids, grubs, and larvae.

What's an Earwig's Diet Inside?

Earwigs are a problem outdoors and can still wreak havoc inside your home. For example, ornamental plants often fall victim to earwigs. These are plants primarily grown for their visual aesthetics, like orchids, hydrangeas, small trees, and hanging ivy.

Because earwigs will eat anything from seedlings to leaves, you could notice signs of damage along your indoor foliage, especially if there’s a significant infestation brewing in your home.

One top sign of earwig damage is small jagged holes in leaves or along stems. Because of their small size, nocturnal tendencies, and general reluctance to interact with humans, you probably won’t see them committing any of this damage in the act.

However, your plants aren’t the only thing you’ll need to worry about!

Outside, earwigs mostly eat plants and other insects, but they expand their palette once they have access to our vast pantries. Earwigs may consume anything from bread to dog food. 

These pests may take a bite out of uncovered fruits and vegetables, like peaches, strawberries, apricots, corn, and any other soft vegetation you may consume, according to the University of California’s Integrated Pest Management Program.

You should still keep an eye out for plant damage if you have an indoor earwig infestation, but remember to keep your groceries in tamper-proof containers too. An earwig’s diet is varied, and they may consume anything they get their hands (or pincers) on.

Earwig Elimination Methods

The elimination method you chose for earwigs may differ depending on their location on your property. 

Some indoor earwig infestations may be cured with adequate food storage and regular cleaning to discourage the emergence of earwigs and other pests like rodents, cockroaches, ants, and flies. 

Sticky traps may also provide some relief and protection against earwigs attacking your indoor plants. Earwigs can’t fly, so your best bet will be to hinder the insects as they travel on the ground. Just place the traps around your pantry or plants.

For outdoor earwig control, earwig traps are an excellent solution to keep these bugs from eating through your plants. 

Oil traps are easy and swift ways to control a growing earwig population with ingredients you may already have at home. 

Add soy sauce and another oil, like vegetable, avocado, or olive, together in a cut-off plastic bottle or a small container. Then, bury either device into the soil near your garden with the top of the bottle or container left uncovered. 

You won’t see results immediately, especially if you placed your trap during the early morning light. Because earwigs prefer to feast during the nighttime hours, they’ll only fall for your trap whenever the sun sets. 

Every morning, dispose of the earwigs and replace the trap until you’ve eliminated all of the pesky pincer bugs lurking around your garden. 

Because an earwig’s diet is varied, you may have trouble controlling them on your own. Professional pest control specialists like the technicians at Zunex Pest Control are well-versed in earwig control and can lend a hand. 

Whenever you have issues with earwigs on your property, contact us for your next pest control treatment!

Schedule Today!

Contact your local Zunex pest expert to schedule a treatment today!