As unpleasant as earwigs are in and around your home, you might begin to wonder what is attracting them to your surroundings.
Are there conditions in or around your home that are attracting them? Are you unknowingly providing food sources for them?
One of the best ways to prevent an overabundance of earwigs is to find out what they like to eat both outside and inside of your home.
What do earwigs eat? Outdoors, earwigs eat other insects, insect eggs, the flowers and leaves of plants, fruits, and vegetables. Indoors, earwigs will eat crumbs, breads, cereals, and other sources of starch, such as flour or grains. They may also nibble on houseplants and herbs.
After learning what exactly earwigs like to eat, you can take proactive steps to eliminate many food sources and make conditions as unfavorable as possible for these little bugs.
Outdoor Food Sources for Earwigs
Earwigs belong to the Dermaptera order. Although there are many varieties of earwigs, most of them are omnivores. Omnivores can survive on nutrients provided from both plants and animals.
Most of the time, earwigs love to hide in moist, dark places like under dead leaves, within wet mulch, in a potted plant, in between sidewalk cracks, or under a rock.
You can find a more detailed list of what earwigs are attracted to here.
Your flower or vegetable garden is a literal smorgasbord for earwigs as this is where many smaller insects and bugs reside.
This can be both good and bad.
On one hand, they will eat mites, aphids, and beetles that can destroy your plants.
On the other hand, they have no problem eating your flowers and plants if they run out of other food sources.
Although earwigs don’t eat other animals, they do eat mites, other insects such aphids, the eggs of other insects, and sow bugs.
Some even delight in feasting on the fungus that grows on rat fur.
Considered scavengers, they aren’t too picky when looking for and finding food. Earwigs will eat insects and bugs whether dead or alive.
Flowers and Plants
Some of the common flowers that earwigs are attracted to include marigolds, zinnias, dahlias, roses, carnations, sunflowers, and butterfly bushes.
You will notice small or medium-size holes in the flower petals or leaves, especially with new plants or seedlings.
If earwigs begins feasting on the plants in your garden, they can do a lot a damage to the point of killing the plants.
They also like to munch on pollen, which is another reason why they are attracted to flowers and leaves.
Fruits and Vegetables
In a vegetable garden, earwigs eat ripe or decaying potatoes, cucumbers, and leafy fare like lettuce, cabbage, or herbs.
They also eat sweet fruits like strawberries. Sometimes they crawl inside soft fruit, like peaches or plums, and munch on the fruit near the pit.
What Do Baby Earwigs Eat?
Baby earwigs eat food that is regurgitated from their mothers. Disgusting, but true.
If desperate enough for food, young earwigs, or nymphs, feast on their own molted skins, other dead siblings or, if deceased, their very own mother. Yikes!
One particularly odd note is that nymphs eat each others’ frass, or feces.
To encourage good bacteria in their guts, nymphs produce more frass while bonding with their siblings.
When consuming feces together, it’s considered a normal and healthy social behavior.
Indoor Food Sources for Earwigs
Earwigs will find shelter inside your home when weather conditions are unpleasant.
If the weather is too hot, too cold, too wet, or too dry, they are highly likely to try to enter your home.
Because they are small with flat bodies, it’s extremely easy for them to enter through even the smallest crack around your home.
Although they don’t eat wood, if rotting or wet wood is exposed on the outside of your home, they are attracted to this area as an entry point to your residence.
Be aware that earwigs can fall from trees and gutters as you walk underneath them, clinging to your hair or clothing for a free ride into your home.
Once inside, earwigs will seek out and feast on cookie crumbs, bread or buns, cereal, and bags of flour or grains stored in the back of a dark pantry or cabinet.
It is not uncommon for them to hide in potted houseplants and indoor herb or window gardens.
If you notice round, missing pieces near the edge of the leaves, it’s possible that an earwig is to blame.
You may also notice holes in leaves, wilting, or an overall unhealthy appearance of an indoor plant no matter how well you tend to it.
In “How to Get Rid of Earwigs,” you’ll find a variety of measures, both natural and chemical, that will ensure that earwigs are eliminated swiftly from your yard and home.
If you’d rather be a bit more extreme in your efforts, you’ll find a list of the best pesticides for earwigs here.
Earwigs = Scavengers
Since earwigs will eat other insets whether dead or alive, they are attracted to other insects in the home.
While earwigs may become food for spiders, they will also attempt to munch on other insects caught up in a web.
If there are dead ants, insects, or larvae in your home, that’s another potential food source for the indiscriminate appetite of an earwig.
Earwigs are also a big fan of decomposing plants and other organic matter.
Remove any dead plants or compost bins from the immediate outside perimeter of your house to discourage a colony of earwigs from living and reproducing there.
An outdoor grill or barbecue set up on the patio is a popular spot for earwig families to congregate.
The leftover grease from all that grilled food is another wildly popular food source for midnight-snacking earwigs.
Since earwigs are primarily nocturnal diners, bright yard lights attract and encourage them to come closer to the outside of your home.
Once there, they scavenge for food or look for an entry point into your home.
By minimizing yard lighting or by using only motion lights, you can help keep earwigs away from your home.
Do Earwigs Use Pincers to Hunt for Food?
A male earwig will sometimes use those intimidating-looking forceps, or pincers, for hunting.
He first captures his prey, then he squeezes or pinches with his pincers (known as cerci), to disable the prey for easier consumption.
However, earwigs primarily use their pincers as a defense mechanism when frightened or threatened. The pincers are also used for mating purposes.
Unless threatened, earwigs are not aggressive and will not attack humans or pets for food.
Earwigs do not feed on blood, fluids, or the skin/hair of humans or pets.
Even so, some people are still concerned about whether earwigs will bite given the opportunity. We address that issue and other common myths in our article, “Do Earwigs Bite?”
Eliminating Earwig Food Sources
The best thing you can do to keep earwigs at bay is to maintain conditions that they hate, such as keeping your yard and home clean.
- Take the time to inspect the exterior of your home, especially around the foundation. Repair cracks, broken seals, and cracked weatherstripping around windows and doors.
- Remove sources of standing water, and thoroughly clean actively growing areas of fungus and mold.
- Rake up and dispose of dead leaves and dead plants, and cover compost bins.
- Replace mossy dirt or wet mulch with gravel or stones near the foundation of the house.
- Check the drainage around the perimeter of your home, making sure water runs away from the basement area.
Earwigs Uncovered – Know Where They Hide
If you should find earwigs inside your home, know that they are attracted to spoiled fruit or vegetables, the smell of grease or oil, and crumbs of any kind.
They hang out in standing water in the kitchen sink, especially where there are dirty dishes.
Maintaining a clean kitchen and cleaning anywhere there may be food or food spills is a good defense against earwigs.
Wipe the counters using dish soap, vinegar, or bleach disinfectant.
Pet food is another big draw for earwigs, whether it be flaked fish food or dry/wet cat food.
You will also find earwigs in dark crawlspaces, basements and inside of old cardboard boxes stored in the lower level.
Earwigs hang out in toilets, tubs, sinks, laundry tubs, and anywhere there is a dripping faucet.
Other popular hiding spaces for earwigs include the inside of toilet paper rolls, inside air vents and heating ducts, and especially in hampers, snuggling up in your damp, dirty laundry.
If you notice centipedes inside your home, don’t be surprised to find earwigs nearby.
Centipedes also thrive in dark, damp spaces, and finding them in your home may indicate the yet-undiscovered presence of earwigs.
Earwigs thrive in dark, damp conditions and will often lay eggs wherever the setting is ideal.
Female earwigs lay more than 20 eggs at a time, and each one of them can live up to one year.
Prevention efforts are definitely worth your time, and knowing how to kill them with natural solutions, homemade traps and sprays, and pesticides will ensure that they won’t be taking over any time soon.
While earwigs are not harmful to people or pets, they are a nuisance and extremely unpleasant to deal with, especially inside your home.
Even if a pet eats an earwig, it poses no threat or harm to their health.
By eliminating favorable habitat conditions and food sources both inside and outdoors, it’s possible to prevent a small problem from morphing into a larger one.
Already have a problem with earwigs? We have a ton of useful information and elimination tips that you can put into practice right away. You can find them all on our earwig page.