Do Earwigs Like Water And Can They Swim?

Earwigs are one of the things you don't want around your home and garden. Although in some ways they can be beneficial, some disadvantages outweigh the possible advantages they can pose to your property. If you have a body of water near your house, say a pool or a small pond, you might be wondering whether earwigs will be attracted to it--so we have researched the answers for you.

Although earwigs don't swim and do not cross over to deep water, they are attracted to moisture-rich places and typically nest near shorelines, or in this case, near your pond or pool. Earwigs will stay in a moisture-rich area if they have access to plants and other insects, which are their usual diet.

The first step to preventing an infestation is to get to know the insects that typically inhabit your area. If you notice earwigs around you, your property can be a potential target so you need to know how to prepare and what to do during an infestation. Keep reading below to learn more about them.

Earwig in its natural environment, Do Earwigs Like Water And Can They Swim?

Where do earwigs live?

Earwigs are native to North America and Eurasia since the climate is usually ideal for these insects. They frequent moisture-rich places, typically near bodies of water where the topsoil is wet.

Earwig in the leaf

If they're not frequenting near bodies of water, earwigs will nest under mulch, rotting logs, dead leaves, and firewood where moisture is likely to stick and dampen the soil. They can also be found in tree holes since this is a safe area for them to lay their eggs because it's rarely checked.

It is also easier for them to have undisturbed access to food sources especially if the tree is rich and healthy.

They love cool places, unlike other insects that frequent tropical and warm areas.

Since they like to stay hidden, it can be difficult to spot them on your property until you start seeing chewed-up plants, ruined crops, and dead insects around the area.

This is why you need to frequently check the most humid places in your home indoors. They will likely frequent humid basements, kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms since these are some of the most moisture-rich places in the house.

Make sure to check every crevice and corner, and invest in a good dehumidifier and ventilation system to discourage their infestation.

What do earwigs eat?

Earwigs eat virtually anything since they are omnivorous insects. They eat ornamental and vegetable crops, decaying plants--even composting leaves--and chew on damp leaves and mulch, which is also one of the reasons why they live in such places.

Earwigs eating chamomile flower

Aside from plants, they eat any insect--dead or alive--if their size can overpower it. Larger earwigs eat large cockroaches, aphids, ants, bugs, and other garden pests. They also eat the eggs and larvae of other insects, making them a dangerous predator.

When they're inside your house, their diet expands to what is available in your pantry. They will eat whatever is exposed, including bread, flour, cereal, leftover biscuit crumbs, sweets, and even meat.

Are earwigs good for compost?

Although they have numerous disadvantages, earwigs can be quite helpful for the compost pile. Since they are natural predators and omnivorous, they can eat the pests that might lurk around your compost piles such as mites, nematodes, bugs, and aphids.

However, even this benefit is debatable since they are also known to chew on leaves which might ruin your compost pile. Aside from this, their presence also indicates that the compost pile may be starting to decompose.

So, although they are good predators, it is still best to keep them off anywhere near your property.

Are earwigs dangerous?

Tawny earwig in its natural environment

Whether earwigs are "dangerous" or not depends on one's perception of what is dangerous or not. Technically, earwigs are not venomous or poisonous, but they have forceps-like pincers that can penetrate your skin and draw blood. They can also bite, but it is highly unlikely.

If they happen to pinch your skin, it will only bleed for a while and form a small, red bump. However, no punctures should be visible.

Earwigs will only pinch as a defense mechanism, so try not to go near them or pick them up with your bare hands.

Can earwigs enter your ear?

Earwigs are highly unwanted creatures, so naturally, myths are bound to spread to further encourage avoidance of them.

The name "earwig" itself is derived from an old English word ear wicga, which means "ear creature," formed upon the belief that earwigs will enter your ear and slurp your brain while you're asleep and lay eggs inside.

This myth is unfounded and only an exaggerated version of the truth. Although it is highly unlikely for earwigs to enter your ear, they can still enter through and cause extreme discomfort.

This is possible if you go camping and sleep outdoors and an earwig happens to spot your ear and enter by accident. When this happens, go to the emergency room immediately and seek medical attention.

How to Remove Earwig inside the Ear

Having a bug inside your ear can cause you to panic, but it is important to remain calm. Here's what you can do to remove the bug inside your ear:

  • Straighten your ear to the back of your head and shake your head. This may dislodge the earwig from inside your ear canal.
  • If the bug is still inside and still active, you need to kill it first before flushing it out. Pour vegetable oil into the canal to kill the bug, then flush it out with warm water. Wait until you hear a "click" in your ear then turn your head to the other side to let out the water along with the bug.

How To Prevent an Earwig Infestation

The first step to preventing an earwig infestation is to make the environment inhospitable to them. Get rid of rotting logs, put firewood away from your house, and sweep away dried leaves.

If your garden has a lot of moisture, and if you have a natural pond that makes your soil damp, set up earwigs trap so earwigs will not make a home out of your soil and discourage other earwigs from crawling to the area.

An unusual insect named earwig with two thorns on the end of the trunk sits on a white flower

To create an earwig oil pit trap, prepare one cup of vegetable oil, one cup of soy sauce, and a container with a lid. Fill the container with oil and soy sauce. The smell of soy sauce will attract them, and the oil will trap them.

Prop up the lid of the container enough for the earwigs to enter through. Bury the container in the soil that they frequent, and wait until it is filled with trapped earwigs. Replace as needed.

The environment inside your home is more controllable. As long as all your windows and doors are sealed and caulked; the cracks and holes repaired, the earwigs should have nowhere to enter through.

Keep your home clean and dry to prevent an earwig infestation, and as much as possible don't leave leftovers lying around that can attract them.

How To Get Rid of Earwigs

Exterminator in work clothes sprays pesticides from a spray bottle

If you already have an infestation, you will need to address it immediately before earwigs destroy more of your plants and compost pile. Here's how to remove earwigs from your area.

  • Spray a mixture of equal parts soap and water where the bugs are nesting.
  • Sprinkle food-grade diatomaceous earth on the earwigs' trail during a dry season. This will safely kill the earwigs as well as other pests.
  • Use a pesticide specifically for earwigs. Practice caution when handling.

When the infestation is particularly heavy, it is best to call pest control services to better handle the situation.

Final Thoughts

Earwigs are pests you don't want around your home. Though they don't swim in the water, they love to stay near them, so make sure you apply preventative measures when you spot even one hanging around your area.

If you enjoyed this article, check out "Do Bonide Systemic Granules Kill Spider Mites?" or "Can Neem Oil Be Used Indoors?"