How to Get Rid of the Pincher Bug

A pincher bug, or earwig, can be an unpleasant find. It’s especially not fun when you find them in the house or chewing away at the plants in the garden. Their pinchers make them a formidable looking insect, but worry not! Pincher bug bites or pinchers are rare and if one does end up pinching you, it won’t hurt much. That being said, they are still not the type of bug you may want in your house or eating your plants.

There are many ways to get rid of them, but before we get started, there are a few things you need to know about pincher bugs/earwigs:

  • Pincher bugs are also known as earwigs
    • They got the name earwig from the idea that they would crawl into the ear and burrow into the brain. This was discovered to be a myth, but many people still believe it today
  • They like cool and moist/damp conditions
    • This can include wood piles, flower beds with mulch or gravel, basements and cellars, and areas near standing water such as ponds or larger puddles
  • They are generally nocturnal insects
    • While they can be seen in daylight, they do most of their work like hunting for food and creating shelter during the nighttime
  • They are not territorial which means they often nest in groups
    • They are relatively social insects, so they have no problem nesting in large groups
  • They are omnivorous meaning they eat other bugs (dead or alive) and also eat plants
    • They eat just about anything: live bugs, dead bugs, and all kinds of plants. If you find them in your home they may be found hiding in a sack of sugar or flower
    • Their forceps pinchers are used in self-defense or to catch prey

While they are nothing to be afraid of for humans, they still do not belong in the house. If you have tried time and time again to get rid of pincher bugs in your home, there may be other methods you could try.

The methods listed below range from simple fixes all the way up to home-improvement related treatments. Whatever the case may be, there is a solution to your pincher bug problem.

Read on to find the 8 ways to get rid of pincher bugs

1. Vacuum or sweep them up

If you spot just one or two pincher bugs, you can simply sweep or vacuum them up. There is no real cause for concern at this point if you’ve only spotted a few. Look around your home to see if there has been any spilt food or crumbs that have fallen to the ground. Dining rooms and kitchens tend to be the place where people notice these bugs the most.

Keeping food droppings off of the ground and ensuring your garbage disposal is clear are both good options in preventing pincher bugs from coming into your home. This also helps prevent other bugs from coming into your home such as fruit flies and ants.

If you keep finding more than one or two, however, you may need to try more applied forms of pest removal. Keep reading to find out more mentors of pincher bug removal.

dark brown pincher bug

2. Eliminate damp conditions within the house

Pincher bugs, believe it or not, can burrow into the ground up to six feet! So naturally, going below ground into basements would be no problem for them. They love damp, moist environments, so the best way to get rid of them is to make sure your house is kept dry.

When removing excess moisture indoors, it is best to tackle the most damp parts of your home like basements, cellars, and garages. Pincher bugs will hide inside of corrugated cardboard, old newspapers/magazines, and cracks on the wall. By removing the excess moisture in your home, you will deter them from coming into your basement and staying.

Signs of excess moisture in your home include walls that sweat, water pooling in the corners or along the edges of the room, and the sensation of humidity in the space.

If your basement, cellar, or garage retain more moisture than what is ideal, paint the room with watertite or waterproof paint. This will prevent moisture from seeping into the walls from the outdoors. Additionally, investing in a dehumidifier can keep unwanted moisture at bay. Lastly, working to manage, organize, and remove unwanted items in storage will help reduce hiding spots for bugs to hide.

Do you have leaky plumbing? Dripping faucets? If you have pincher bugs inside the kitchen or bathrooms, this may be your culprit. Leaky plumbing is best fixed early. Many basic fixes can be done without a plumber, especially if it’s a basic faucet replacement.

If leaks are not taken care of promptly, they could result in other problems such as baseboard or wood rot. Waterproof paint, having a dehumidifier, managing storage, and simple drip fixes will go a long way in terms of preventing pincher bugs infestation as well as other problems related to home-ownership. Pincher bugs hate dry environments!

3. Reduce hiding spots outdoors

Many bugs love to hide in plants and mulch, pincher bugs are no exception. They prefer to stay close to their food source. Try checking your outdoor surroundings and make sure that the plant borders surrounding your house aren’t acting as a bug haven.

You may want to consider eliminating gravel or wood mulch if you find that it is too close to your home. Foliage too close to the home may be encouraging bugs to come indoors.

Also, try your best to keep grasses and weeds near the house to a minimum. This can be done by regularly mowing and cutting back excess growth during the growing season.

Gutters and standing water near the home can attract pincher bugs. Do your best to ensure that your gutters are diverting water away from the house and garage. This can be done by using splash blocks to put below your gutter. You could also invest in a rain barrel or two. Then, the excess water could be used to water your plants.

Keeping the perimeter of your house dry and clear of places for bugs to hide are great ways to reduce the presence of pincher bugs and other unwanted insects.

Standing water also has the potential to weaken the foundation of your home and cause leaks. Bugs tend to burrow into compromised house structures.

pincher bug eating a leaf
Pincher bug/earwig eating a leaf

4. Seal off entry points

After you have removed the dampness in and around your house, the next course of action is to seal off your entryways. As time passes, caulking around door frames and windows can weaken to the point of needing to be redone or at least is in need of a touch-up.

Consider going around your house and checking doors, windows, garages, and other entryways for cracks in the sealing or caulking. Once you’ve found the problem areas, grab some caulk or sealant and touch up those spots. You may find that you need to remove the old caulking or sealant before you apply the new.

If your house is made of brick or stone, pincher bugs may be able to enter through holes in the mortar. In this case, you could use steel wool to brush the holes closed. If you do, make sure whatever you use to brush the holes will not micolor the material you are treating.

By removing excess moisture in and outside of your home and sealing off entry points, you will have utilized the best ways to prevent pincher bugs from entering your home. Read on to find the best ways to get rid of pincher bugs outdoors and in the garden.

5. Make a trap

If pincher bugs are invading your garden, and the previous methods haven’t worked, try making a trap. This can be done using basic household supplies like newspaper or corrugated cardboard. You can also make an oil pit with household items.

Here are the steps to make a paper trap:

  1. Find several sheets of newspaper or regular paper
  2. Dampen the sheets of paper and roll them up loosely
  3. Tape the roll or put a rubber band around it so that it doesn’t unroll itself
  4. Place the roll in an area where you have seen pincher bugs
  5. The idea is that the bugs will crawl in either side and then get stuck in the damp middle part of the roll.

Here are the steps to make an oil pit trap

  1. Find an old plastic container with a lid. Some items that will work are cool-whip containers, margarine tubs, or lunch meat containers.
  2. Trace the rim of a glass or mug on the lid, then cut it out
  3. You can also cut a 2 inch strip out of the lid from one end to the other, in the middle. This should leave you with two lid pieces.
  4. Place the lid or the two lid pieces back on the container. Both methods should give you a hole in the center
  5. Fill the container with oil. You can use olive oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, or any other non-toxic oil you have in the house.
  6. Go out to the garden and dig a hole in the ground the size of the container
  7. Place the container in the hole, making sure the lid is flush/even with the ground
  8. The idea is that the bugs will walk on top of the trap, fall into the hole into the oil, and then not be able to escape
  9. Check the trap a few times a week and replace the oil as needed

6. Use petroleum jelly on plants

This treatment is mainly for outdoor use, but can be used on house plants if needed. If pincher bugs are destroying your plants, you can prevent them from climbing the plants by putting petroleum jelly. To do this, simply put petroleum jelly at the base of the stems of your plants.

With this method, the bugs won’t be able to climb up and eat the leaves of your plants. While pincher bugs do have wings, they rarely fly and will be unlikely to reach the leaves of your plants, provided that the leaves are not touching the ground.

7. Create a bird-friendly garden

A diverse garden is one of the best ways to create a balanced ecosystem in your area. Bugs eat plants and the birds and bats eat the bugs. If there are more bugs than birds to eat them, consider getting plants for your garden that will attract the birds.

Birds love berries. That being said, if you end up planting elderberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries birds will come. Having birds present means that they will eat not just the fruits and seeds, but the insects as well. Birds also love flowering dogwoods, coneflowers, zinnias, marigolds and sunflowers.

Simply installing a birdfeeder in your outdoor space can help attract birds.The benefits of this treatment not only include minimizing pincher bugs, but also reducing other bugs that can be problematic to plants such as caterpillars, beetles, and aphids.

8. Use borax

Last on the list is borax which is a combination of boric acid and sodium. It is last because it should only be considered when all of the other treatments on the list have been exhausted.

Why is it a last case scenario? Because it can be dangerous to children and pets. If you need to use it, apply a thin layer of the powder where there is a pincher bug infestation. Make sure to keep children and pets away from the treated area.

As you can see, there are many ways to get rid of pincher bugs. Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach to pest removal, there is always a way to manage pest infestations before they get out of hand.

In Summary

Whether they are invading your home or chewing up plants in your garden, pincher bugs can be a pain to discover and deal with. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with them.

We hope this has been a helpful guide on removing pincher bugs from your home and garden.

Best of luck and thanks for reading!
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