Although earwigs are harmless, most people don’t want them anywhere near their homes.
However, it’s possible that you may be unintentionally providing an excellent environment for earwigs to live and thrive in and around your home.
What are earwigs attracted to? Earwigs are primarily attracted to dark, moist spaces that provide protection and sufficient food. Decomposing organic matter is a major attractant, but they’re also drawn to gardens in search of smaller insects and foliage and to greasy or starchy foods found indoors.
Attempting to eliminate an earwig infestation will be fruitless unless you understand what exactly is attracting them to your property in the first place.
Once this is accomplished, you can begin to get rid of them right away. We show you how here.
Outdoor Conditions that Attract Earwigs
After mating in autumn, earwigs move underground to overwinter.
When the weather warms up in late spring, they come out of hibernation and search for food sources.
Female earwigs are surprisingly attentive mothers.
In late winter or early spring, females produce anywhere from 20-80 eggs at a time, which are placed a few inches below the soil line in a small chamber.
Mothers will carefully tend to the eggs, keeping them clean and clustered close together until they hatch in about a week.
When the babies emerge from the eggs, the mother continues to care for them by regurgitating food to sustain them and providing protection from potential threats.
Adult earwigs, along with the babies (or nymphs), prefer to live outdoors as long as the weather conditions are favorable and food is available.
Will they hurt you or actually crawl into your ears? Find the answers here.
Here are some of the common outdoor places that attract earwigs.
Since earwigs are omnivores, they feed on both insects and plants, so gardeners tend to have a love/hate relationship with them.
While earwigs eat other insects (dead or alive), mites, aphids, and insect eggs, they help keep plants healthy and the soil tidy.
However, if they run out of insects or decomposing matter in the garden, earwigs will begin to feed on the healthy plants, flowers, fruits, or vegetables, causing damage and potentially killing them.
Wet, mulched beds, especially those mulched deeper than 2 inches, are popular nesting places and homes for earwigs.
Earwigs are attracted to planters due to the moist soil conditions.
They love to burrow in the soil of many types of flowers, vegetables, or herbs in a raised bed or planter.
Earwigs also eat pollen, which gives them another reason to seek out plants no matter where they are planted.
Compost bins provide nearly perfect conditions for an earwig to live.
Due to the decomposing organic material, moist conditions, and availability of other insects, you will find a lot of earwigs in and around a compost bin.
If you recycle yard waste and kitchen scraps in a compost bin, keep it covered and away from the house.
Decomposing Yard Waste
Decomposing yard waste isn’t just found in compost bins. It also comes in the form of wet leaves, dead grass, piles of wet pine needles, and straw.
If these types of yard waste are not raked up and removed, they will attract earwigs.
Large clumps of thick weeds or patches of long grass attract earwigs. Since the soil conditions tend to be moist, it provides another place for them to hide.
Earwigs live and reproduce in brush piles because the lower levels tend to remain damp long after a rainfall and other insects seek shelter there as well.
Dead brush may also have bunches of dead leaves attached, which is another crowd favorite for earwigs and their families.
Large wood piles are attractive to earwigs because they tend to get wet and may rot when kept uncovered outdoors.
It’s there you will find a large number of earwigs living in the dark places between logs on the pile.
Earwigs love to hide under rocks because of the darkness, dampness, and protection provided. In fact, rocks are one of the top attractions for earwigs.
The size of the rocks matters little to earwigs. You’ll find them underneath large decorative rocks, small garden pebbles, and all sizes in between.
Because earwigs have flat bodies and can squirm into the smallest hole or crack, they crawl into sidewalk cracks and even live under the concrete.
Sidewalk cracks also tend to fill up with dead leaves, grass, and other yard waste that they love.
Yard Lights and Outdoor Living Areas
Although nocturnal, earwigs are attracted to bright lights.
That means that those bright white yard lights you religiously turn on each night for safety are actually a welcome beacon to earwigs.
To prevent yard lights from attracting earwigs, either move the lights farther away from the house, install motion sensors instead, or switch out the bulbs to those that cast a dim or yellow light.
Earwigs will crawl into a watering can left on a patio or deck, especially if there’s water left in it.
If the patio furniture gets wet, earwigs will hide under the soggy cushions.
Earwigs are also attracted to the greasy smells left behind on a grill. They won’t hesitate to crawl inside to hide or look for food.
Garbage Cans and Recycling Bins
Earwigs are not picky about finding food, and a great source for a potential meal can be found in garbage cans and recycling bins.
Earwigs are attracted to greasy, oily, and sweet smells, so this comes as no surprise.
Keep these containers tightly sealed and away from the house, preferably in the garage or a large covered storage area.
Indoor Conditions that Attract Earwigs
Once earwigs find reasons to come near your home, it’s only a matter of time before at least some of them will find their way inside.
They enter through cracks found around door frames and windows or cracks in the foundation.
Earwigs sometimes fall out of trees and gutters, land on you or your pet, and get a free ride inside.
Earwigs are attracted to wet or rotting wood, so if there is any around the outside of your home, they will crawl inside the wood and into your house.
If you are seeing more than one or two earwigs indoors, you’ll likely want to take action immediately before the population increases.
We show you creative solutions and more traditional approaches in our article, “What Kills Earwigs?”
Here are some of things that earwigs are attracted to inside your home.
A hungry earwig is on a mission to find food and will check out anything that slightly resembles a possible food source.
This includes crumbs, pet food, food spills on the counters, greasy stoves, cooking oils, or fruit bowls.
A complete list of foods earwigs love to munch on can be found in our article, “What Do Earwigs Eat?”
Earwigs crawl into your kitchen cabinets, drawers, and pantries looking for food. The best defense is a squeaky-clean kitchen and tightly sealed storage containers.
While it’s possible for earwigs to find themselves inside your home by accident, most of the time they are seeking shelter from poor weather conditions.
Although they like moist conditions outside, they don’t like floods or saturated soil.
They also don’t like extreme weather of any kind, such as excessive heat, bitter cold, or drought-like conditions.
For more conditions that earwigs hate, read this so you can make your home and yard unattractive to them.
Basements and Crawl Spaces
Both basements and crawl spaces provide ideal living conditions for earwigs because these spaces are typically dark, humid, and moist and offer tons of places to hide.
Watch for them in laundry tubs, near floor drains, around leaky pipes, and in bathrooms downstairs.
They like to hide in old boxes or inside stacks of old newspapers or magazines.
Kitchens and Dining Rooms
Because of the abundance of food sources, earwigs are attracted to the dining room and especially the kitchen.
They will be drawn to the stove, crumbs in a toaster or on the floor, food left in sink drains, garbage cans, recycling containers, and water found in the kitchen sink.
Earwigs adore bathrooms because of the availability of water.
They love to hang out in sinks, shower stalls, toilets, and hampers. They hide in the drains, wet towels hung to dry, or inside toilet paper rolls.
If given an opportunity or if conditions are right, these scavengers will come inside your home.
Although it’s almost impossible to eliminate earwigs completely, there are plenty of things you can do to discourage them.
By first working on eliminating the things that earwigs are attracted to on the outside, you have a much better chance of keeping them from coming near and entering your home.
If you feel like your earwig problem is getting out of hand, you’ll be glad to know that there are many pesticide solutions that will eliminate them effectively.
You’ll find our top pesticide recommendations in this article.
We also have other earwig articles filled with prevention tips and elimination advice so that you can reclaim your home and yard. You can find them all here.