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Do Earwigs Bite – Everything You Need to Know in 2023 w Pictures

do earwigs bite

Earwigs are common insects often associated with the long pincers at the end of their abdomens. While earwigs may look intimidating, the question remains: do they actually bite? 

In this article, we’ll explore the answer to this question and provide you with all the information you need to know about earwigs, their potential to bite, and what to do when you encounter one at home.

What are Earwigs?

The earwig is an insect that has garnered much attention over the years due to a persistent myth that it can crawl into a person’s ear and feed off their brain. However, while it’s true that small insects can enter the ear canal, this myth is entirely unfounded. Earwigs do not lay eggs on ear canals or feed on human brains; instead, they primarily feed on plants of various kinds.

Earwigs come in various colors, including black or brown, with orange or red markings. They have wings and are known for the distinctive pincers that protrude from their abdomen’s back. These pincers are used for self-defense and capturing prey, making earwigs a formidable force to reckon with in the insect world.

Earwigs prefer moist environments, which is why they tend to live in dark and humid areas near homes. You may find them in kitchens, bathrooms (especially around sinks), and laundry rooms. 

During the colder months, earwigs are more likely to venture indoors, so it’s essential to take preventive measures to keep them out. 

While earwigs are capable of biting, it is a rare occurrence. More often, they are likelier to pinch your skin and hold on tight if they feel threatened. However, these pinches are usually not strong enough to break your skin or draw blood. 

In extreme cases where adult males have large forceps, the pinch can be more painful, but the good news is that earwigs are not venomous.

Despite their distinctive appearance, some people mistake earwigs for cockroaches due to their similar colors and size. However, earwigs prefer to move around on the ground and cannot fly. 

So, if you encounter one of these fascinating creatures, don’t be alarmed – they are harmless and usually pose no threat to humans.

Earwig Pinchers

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Earwig Diet

When outdoors, earwigs have a relatively normal diet and feed on insects, plants, or decaying matter. 

However, if you have fruit, vegetable, or flower plants, you should watch for outdoor earwig infestations. Look for tiny holes in your vegetables, fruits, or plant leaves, as earwigs can leave jagged designs on your plants.

Earwigs can also be a problem indoors, as they may feed on your food pantry groceries. While they will generally consume any wayward insects, they will also feast on your food, including grain products like bread, cookies, flour, and other items. Therefore, storing your food properly and regularly cleaning your counters is crucial to prevent earwigs from dining in your kitchen.

Earwigs may generally be harmless, but they can cause significant damage to your outdoor and indoor plants and even invade your kitchen. Look for any signs of earwig infestations and take the necessary steps to prevent them from wreaking havoc on your home and garden.

Earwig on Finger

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Why Do Earwigs Pinch or Bite? 

If you’ve been pinched by an earwig, it’s important to know that it’s a self-defense mechanism. Earwigs will use their forceps if they feel threatened, especially if you try to pick them up. However, it’s essential to note that earwig pinches are not bites or stings, which are terms used for insects with biting mouthparts or stingers. Earwigs are unlikely to pinch you unless you get up close to touch them.

As small insects, earwigs can get into any space, including your home furniture or bed. While earwig infestations are not very common, they can occur. If you suspect an earwig infestation in your home, it’s best to call a professional pest control agency. They can help you locate the source of the infestation and get rid of it, ensuring that your home is free from these pests and preventing any future infestations.

Earwig in Hand

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Earwigs Pinch Symptoms

If an earwig has pinched you, you might notice two tiny red-pink marks that are very close together. In rare cases, the pincers may break the skin and cause some bleeding. While an earwig pinch can be uncomfortable and may cause redness and swelling, the mild discomfort usually passes quickly.

It’s important to note that earwigs are not venomous, and their pinches should not cause long-term complications. If you need clarification on whether you were pinched by an earwig or bitten by a spider or mosquito, inspect the surrounding area closely. An earwig pinch should not leave a deep puncture wound or create a significant skin reaction.

In contrast, spider bites often present twin puncture wounds surrounded by a hot welt that grows bigger and can even result in necrosis. 

Mosquito bites usually involve one small puncture wound in the middle of an itchy and swollen welt that is smaller than a dime. Therefore, by understanding the differences between these bites, you can identify the cause of your discomfort and seek the appropriate treatment.

Holding an Earwig

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Earwig Pinch Complications

These insects live and hang around places where bacteria can thrive, like drains, soil, and decaying plants. Because of this, their bites or pinches are capable of causing skin irritations or infections if they’re not properly cleaned and treated immediately after being pinched. 

The risk increases if this insect’s pincers break off in the skin. In these rare cases, the area may become firm and swollen. It may later transform into a blister. Without proper care, this blister could become infected, potentially leading to skin infections like cellulitis. 

Some symptoms of cellulitis include:

  • Red and inflamed skin
  • Pin and tenderness around the pinch
  • Tightness of the skin
  • Rapidly growing rash 
  • Abscess in the center of the area that oozes pus
  • Fever

In severe cases, cellulitis and other skin infections can become septic- a life-threatening systematic infection. 

You could be at risk of sepsis if you have the following:

  • Blistering 
  • Drowsiness
  • Red streaks
  • Lethargy

If you are experiencing these or similar symptoms, seek medical help immediately. Sepsis must be treated in a hospital with intravenous medications.

What’s the Treatment for Earwig Bites?

If you’ve been pinched or bitten by an earwig, evaluate the area to ensure the skin is not broken. Wash the area thoroughly with warm water and soap.

If you notice the skin is broken, apply a topical antibacterial gel or cream to the area to prevent possible infection. 

If you’re experiencing swelling or redness, an ice pack should help with the discomfort. 

In most cases, the affected area should heal by itself without medical intervention.

If you suspect the pincers have broken off in your skin, seek medical attention to remove the fragments in a safe and sterile environment. If you remove them at home, you risk contaminating the skin and developing possible skin infections.

How to Get Rid of Earwigs

While earwigs can be considered nuisance pests, they are generally not as much of a threat to your home’s garden as other pests, such as aphids and Japanese beetles. However, when disturbed, earwigs can produce a foul, unpleasant odor.

Fortunately, there are several remedies you can try to keep earwigs at bay. For example, you can lay one-foot sections of garden hose or bamboo between the bed’s plants and check these “traps” every morning. Then, you can dump these insects into a bucket of soapy water.

Another option is to spread petroleum jelly on your plant’s stems. This sticky substance can trap the earwigs and prevent them from climbing up your plants.

If earwigs are infesting your woodpiles, you can try sprinkling borax or boric acid around them. However, keep children and pets away from this area, as these substances can be harmful if ingested.

Using these remedies, you can effectively manage earwig populations in your home’s garden or woodpiles and prevent them from becoming a nuisance.


Other Pest Guides from Planet Natural:

What is an Earwig and How to Get Rid of Them Effectively

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs: A Complete 7-Step Guide

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