An earwig is a small reddish-brown insect, with a smooth, elongated body, three pairs of legs, membranous wings and with three distinct body segments. It is characterized by a pair of pincers or forceps-like appendages called “cerci”, which are located on their abdomen. Interestingly, these cerci are comparatively more curved in male earwigs than their female counterparts and can be used to distinguish the sexes. There are about 2,000 different species of earwigs known to inhabit almost all the continents in the world, except Antarctica.

Ever wondered why they are named “earwigs”? Do earwigs crawl in ears? And do earwigs actually go in your ear as their name suggests? The fact is that their name is derived from a baseless myth that claims that the earwigs crawl inside a person’s ear, feed on your brain, and lay eggs in the ear canal. Well, none of this is true.

An earwig is a nocturnal insect, mostly inhabiting moist and damp area such as under dead leaves, rotting branches, in flower pots, under loose pebbles and mulch during the daytime. They become active during night time, coming out of their hiding spot and feeding on a variety of plants and plant-based debris.

The most striking feature of the female earwigs, which sets them apart from the rest of the insect community is that the female earwigs demonstrate strong maternal instincts. Studies have indicated that they shield their eggs from predators until the eggs hatch and that they constantly clean their eggs to remove any traces of fungi covering them. The female earwig lays 2 to 6 dozen white oval-shaped eggs at a time. The eggs hatch in a week, undergo anywhere between 4 to 6 molts before metamorphosing into an adult earwig.

So do earwigs crawl in your ear? Do earwigs live in ears? No, that’s a myth. Earwigs tend to live in tight, close-fitting spaces in gardens, woods and within the soil in shaded fields. I live in the cold prairies where the ground is covered with snow for 6 months in a year and the temperatures can dip down to -40°C during winters. I was surprised to find earwigs even in my garden. I found that they can withstand cold temperatures but tend to sneak indoors through crevices in walls and foundations, when the outdoor conditions are too dry, hot or cold. They tend to cling to flower pots, patio furniture, and upholstery. Once indoors, they hide under carpets, especially in the basements of homes looking for moist and dark spots to hide in.

Do earwigs go in ears? Well, like in the case of any other smaller insects, the possibility of an earwig entering your ear cannot be ruled out completely. But do earwigs lay eggs in your ear? Earwigs may accidentally enter your ear or nose but they certainly do not purposefully enter your ear or nose with an intention of making it their breeding ground.

What happens if an earwig goes in your ear or in your child’s ear? What are some of the earwig in ear symptoms?

Earwigs are non-venomous, but like any other insect, they are capable of biting humans or pets. However, earwigs rarely ever bite. They have a different defense mechanism. When threatened, they use their pincers to defend themselves. They hold on tightly to the skin, pinching it hard, sometimes even causing the area to bleed slightly. So the pinched area swells up and appears reddish, with two red pinch-marks placed slightly apart from each other. In most of the cases, the swelling and pinch marks heal quickly. The discomfort at the pinched site is quite mild and heals quickly. Some species of earwigs, when threatened, spray a jet of foul-smelling yellowish fluid on to their attacker.

How to get an earwig out of your ear? Do not panic. They are harmless bugs that cause nuisance and discomfort inside the ear. However, they cannot crawl into the brain and cause any tissue damage. The easiest way to remove an earwig or any bug from the ear is to tilt your head to one side and shake it. This will cause the bug to dislodge and come out. Alternatively, you can get an earwig out of your ear by pouring a small volume of warm vegetable oil into the ear. If the bug is still alive inside the ear even after using these strategies, visit a doctor immediately. Refrain from using cotton swabs or tweezers as they cause internal injury and permanent hearing loss.

Earwigs are not dangerous. They are just pests that invade your home. With a little care and maintenance, you can get rid of earwigs from your home.

Care and Preventive Maintenance of your home:

  1. Control Moisture levels in your home: The first and foremost step to take is to keep the moisture levels in your home under control. Dehumidifiers are very helpful, especially for damp basements
  2. Seal all possible entry points: Get any cracks and crevices in your foundation and basement fixed immediately so that all the entry point from where the earwigs enter your home are completely sealed off
  3. Move all possible earwig homes away from your home: Clear your garden area to remove any dead logs of wood, unused flower planters, flower pots, etc. that are placed close to the foundation of your home so that all possible areas that harbor earwigs are moved farther away from your home
  4. Make areas adjoining your foundation dry: Earwigs avoid dry areas. So, another useful strategy for preventing earwig infestation in your home is to completely remove any traces of mulch, dead leaves or moist soils from areas adjacent to your building foundation. Refill these areas with dry varieties of soils with greater sand content, so that the earwigs steer away from the foundation of your home
  5. Allow sunshine: Allowing ample sunshine around your home helps maintain the site just outside your home in a dry state. This dryness helps discourage earwigs from venturing closer to your home. So trim away any branches from the tree canopy around your home, that constantly blocks sunshine and helps moisture buildup around your home
  6. Move drain pipes away from your foundation: Make sure all spouts draining rainwater, are placed farther away from the foundation wall. Another excellent strategy is to set the sprinkler irrigation system in your home to water your garden during early mornings so that the excel dampness dries up during the daytime

Seek professional help

If none of these strategies are helpful, then maybe it is time for you to seek professional help. Approach a professional pest control firm before your problem escalates from manageable to unmanageable scale. Earwigs are definitely not dangerous. But, they are a nuisance and professional pest control companies can help you free your home of such pests. Make sure the pest control company you approach, uses integrated pest management strategies to combat the problem. Such strategies tend to look at the problem form a holistic perspective and tend to fix all possible sources of the problem. They attack the root cause of the problem and ensure that the pest problem does not recur in the future. So, call a reliable professional pest management company to attend to the earwig infestation problem in your home.