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The Truth About Earwig Bites: What You Need to Know

April 05, 2024

By Rachel Maldonado

The Truth About Earwig Bites: What You Need to Know

Earwigs are some of the most misunderstood of bugs, with their curious appearance and that incriminating set of pincers, or ‘cerci’ at their rear. 

These insects are not only fear-inducing for many people but their archaic nickname ‘the earwig’ doesn’t do them any favors, either. So many of us have an image of these pests crawling into the ears of unsuspecting sleepers –  not exactly pleasant. 

But beyond the myths, do earwigs bite, and if so, what’s the real story?

If you want to learn more about earwig bites, this post is for you. We’ll separate fact from fiction so you can finally get some sleep!

Understanding Earwig Bites: The Myth vs. Reality

The fear factor surrounding earwigs often stems from the belief that they are relentless biters. However, the reality is far less alarming. 

But first – the lore. The name “earwig” is believed to derive from the “ear worm” or “ear wiggler” from when it was first discovered and named in Europe. Medieval science and medical journals suggested that earwigs could burrow into the brain and cause serious damage. 

Fortunately, that’s not the case at all. 

Generally speaking, earwigs are not aggressive towards humans, and bites are rare occurrences that usually happen only when the insect is cornered or defending itself. 

The pincers, or cerci, on the backs of earwigs are more for show than actual biting. They might pinch when threatened (like if they’re picked up). In very rare occasions, earwigs can bite with their mouthparts – but they won’t cause long-term complications.

An earwig pinch might sting, but it’s rarely serious. You can expect slight pain or a tiny bit of bleeding, similar to a mild pinch. 

For most people, no treatment is needed; simply wash the area with soap and water, apply an antiseptic if the skin has broken, and keep an eye out for signs of infection. If you experience any unusual swelling, redness, or if the pain persists, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional.

Prevention and Control of Earwigs

Even though we’ve established that earwigs don’t necessarily bite, there’s a good chance that most of us don’t exactly want to come into contact with them.

As such, preventing earwigs is all about reducing their ideal habitat. 

A few tips? Keep the perimeter of your home dry and clean. Remove garden debris or mulch from close to the house, and trim overgrown plants that touch the exterior. Seal any crevices that could serve as entry points by using materials like liquid cement or caulk. 

Remember, like most pests, earwigs have the uncanny ability to sneak inside via the smallest of cracks and gaps – so do your best to find all the entry points. 

Also, use a dehumidifier if you happen to have a damp basement. Earwigs love moisture and darkness, making basements popular new abodes, but if you’re able to remove some of the moisture you may be able to keep the earwigs at bay. 

Some people swear by creating a soapy water spray by adding a few drops of dish soap to warm water. This can be used to spray areas and corners where earwigs are found, helping to deter them. 

If an infestation occurs, you have a range of options available to you to eradicate or manage these insects. Natural remedies include diatomaceous earth, a non-toxic powder that abrades their exoskeletons, oils like neem or cedar, and barriers such as sticky traps or petroleum jelly around plants. 

For more severe cases, pesticides can be an option, but get in touch with a professional pest control company, like Hawx, to explore your options. 

Debunking Myths About Earwigs

There are two common myths about earwigs that we’ll dispel:

Myth: Earwigs Lay Eggs in Your Ears

This is entirely false. Earwigs’ reproductive behaviors actually involve tending to their eggs and nymphs in the same burrows and nests where they live. 

The ‘earwig’ name comes from old wives’ tales, but there is no biological evidence that they have a particular affinity for human ears.

Myth: Earwigs Just Want to Bite You

The truth is that earwigs are omnivorous scavengers, feeding on a variety of materials from fungi to carrion, and sometimes garden plants. They are far more interested in that dying leaf or discarded speck of food than they are in your flesh. 

Again, their bites are defensive, not predatory, and the best way to avoid them is to avoid handling earwigs directly.

Key Takeaways

Earwigs are fascinating and relatively harmless critters. Their bites, though uncommon, serve as a reminder to respect wildlife and handle all creatures gently and with care. 

By dispelling the myths as we’ve done above – and understanding the truth –  we can coexist peacefully with these bugs, or in the case of an infestation, find safe and effective ways to manage them. 

Remember, the best pest control is proactive, not reactive; so keep your home and garden environments uninviting to earwigs. 

And if all else fails, there are always professionals, like those at Hawx Pest Control, who can assist. Join our family of satisfied customers today – and don’t let worries of earwigs keep you awake tonight.

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