Top 8 Useful Tips on How to Get Rid of Pincher Bugs

how to get rid of pincher bugs

Commonly referred to as earwigs, pincher bugs can completely disrupt your life at home if they are not properly managed. And if you have a garden in your yard, these bugs will chew up all the plants and flowers, leaving a big mess in your garden.

So, how do you get rid of these stubborn bugs? This article gives you 8 useful tips on how to get rid of pincher bugs.

What Are Pincher Bugs?


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Pincher bugs make up the Dermaptera insect order, with around 2,000 species in 12 families. Notably, these bugs are among the smallest insect orders. One of their main characteristics is cerci—a pair of forceps-like tongs on their abdomen, and membranous wings folded beneath their short, seldom used forewing.

That’s why they are scientifically referred to as skin wings. However, there are some tiny pincher bugs found on mammals that do not have the typical pincers. Earwigs can be found in different parts of the world apart from Antarctica. They are mostly nocturnal, hiding in tiny, moist crevices in the day.

At night, these tiny bugs emerge from their hideouts to feed. They can eat a variety of other insects and plants. That’s why damages to foliage, flowers, and other crops in the backyard are normally blamed on earwigs, particularly the Forficula auricularia—the most common type of pincher bug.

Although most insects do not nurture their litter, pincher bugs display unique maternal care because their females care for their eggs and even watch over their offspring until they undergo their second molt. Earwigs will have up to five molts in a year, after which they become adults.

Pincher bugs have an average lifespan of one year. Their mating season is in autumn and winter, with their eggs typically being hatched in the spring. These bugs undergo metamorphosis in which they change stages from egg to nymph (baby) to adult.

The sexual dimorphism of their nymphs, including the difference in the shape of their tongs, starts to show as they go through the molting stages. Their eggs hatch after seven days, and at times the mother is the one who assists the nymphs to hatch.

Once they hatch, the nymphs feed on the eggshells and remain under their mother’s care until they undergo their second molting.

While they are under their mother’s care, the nymphs, which resemble their parents, will feed on the food regurgitated by their mother and their molts. If their mother dies before they leave the nest, they will feed on her carcass. When the nymphs molt into adults, they undergo a significant body transformation.

For instance, the male’s forceps become curved, while the female’s forceps remain straight. They also develop natural colors, including light brown and dark black. In winged species, the wings will begin to grow at this stage. Their forewings are sclerotized to offer protection to the membranous hind wings.

Ecology of Pincher Bugs

Although most pincher bugs are scavengers, some are predatory or omnivorous. Their abdomens are quite elastic and muscular. That’s why pincher bugs use their abdomens to maneuver as well as open and close the forceps. The forceps are designed to perform numerous roles, including holding prey and in copulation.

Male earwigs have forceps that are more curved than the ones found in females. The most common species of earwigs feed on decaying plants and animal matter. Their main prey includes plant lice, bluebottle flies, and wooly aphids.

Some of the plants they feed on include clovers, butterfly bush, hollyhock, zinnias, dahlias, cauliflower, blackberry, celery, peaches, beets, plums, grapes, strawberries, potatoes, lettuces, seedling beans, among others.

Signs of Pincher Bugs


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Since the pincher bugs are nocturnal, hiding in cool and damp spaces, it’s highly unlikely to encounter them in your house, only on rare occasions. They live and feed outdoors.

So, you will always find them in your garden, flower pots, etc. But what are the signs of pincher bugs infestation? Here are the common signs of the presence of pincher bugs in your home.

Foul smell — when scared or crushed, pincher bugs will produce a yellowish-brown secretion that has a strong scent. Therefore, this scent should tell you that there are earwigs in your house.

Night lights — since these bugs come out at night to feed, you will find them gathered around bright lights.

Dead plants and leaves — the main source of food for earwigs are decaying plants. Therefore, you can easily find them in your garden.

Tiny and moist cracks — since pincher bugs are highly sensitive to dry and hot air, they tend to hide in small cracks and damp places. Therefore, you are likely to find them in your basement where the air is damp.

8 Useful Tips on How to Get Rid of Pincher Bugs

To get rid of pincher bugs in your house or garden, there are several natural and chemical solutions that you can use. But you need to bear in mind the fact that there are different types of pincher bugs, and therefore you might have to use more than one remedy. Here are some of the common remedies for pincher bugs.

1. Mix Dish Soap and Warm Water

Mix your regular dish soap and warm water to form a liquid solution. Spray this solution down the areas where you suspect the stubborn could be hiding. Concentrate on the damp corners of your house and garden because that’s where they hide. Do it every time you spot pincher bugs in or around the house.

2. Use Alcohol-Based Insecticide

Pour equal amounts of rubbing alcohol and water into a spray bottle. Shake the mixture thoroughly and spray it directly down the damp corners of your home and garden. You should also spray them directly when they appear. The alcohol penetrates the bugs’ waxy coats of armor, killing them immediately.

3. Sprinkle Boric Acid Powder

The boric acid powder is known to be a natural insecticide that can eliminate pincher bugs in seconds. Just sprinkle the acid powder where you’ve spotted the bugs or where you suspect they are likely to crawl through. However, make sure your kids and pets don’t have access to this powder because it can be harmful to their health.

4. Use Light Traps

Mix 4 parts warm water with 1-part dish soap in a bucket and stir the solution until it’s completely foamy. Place the bucket with the soapy solution outside directly under a bright light. The pincher bugs will be attracted to the light and drown in the soapy water.

5. Use Soy Sauce and Oil Traps

Add equal amounts of soy sauce and olive or vegetable cooking oil in a small plastic container and make holes in the lid. The holes should be about 0.25 inches in diameter. Then cover the sides of the plastic container with a dark piece of fabric. The pincher bugs will be drawn to the container by the smell of the mixture.

So they will crawl into the plastic container and drown in the mixture. Make sure the plastic container is about 1-inch full. And if you are placing it in your garden, make sure it’s buried in the ground up to the lid.

6. Vacuum Up

If you find pincher bugs concentrated in one hideout, just vacuum them up. A vacuum cleaner can suck up as many earwigs as possible. Furthermore, it will collect even the eggs waiting to hatch.

Once you’ve collected all the bugs with their eggs and cleaned the area, dispose of the vacuum bag or empty your vacuum into a bucket full of soapy water to kill the bugs.

7. Feed Them to the Birds

If the earwigs are hiding in your garden, you can eliminate them naturally by letting the birds feed on them. But you have to find a way to draw as many birds as possible to your garden.

For instance, you can place a bird feeder or a birdbath in your garden. If that’s impossible, you should plant berry or fruit trees in your garden to entice birds.

8. Use Pesticide

There are many granule pesticides specifically designed to kill earwigs. Just apply the pesticide around the surface of your plants or lawn and water the plants immediately to allow the pesticide to dissolve into the ground where pincher bugs lay their eggs.

Why Do I Have Pincher Bugs in My House?


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Pincher bugs will enter your house by crawling through the cracks, gaps, and holes that lead inside the house. They can also be attracted to your indoors by your bright lights and damp basement. Also, they might have been brought in by humans or pets accidentally.

For instance, if you left boxes in a wet garage or outdoor store, earwigs might find them hospitable. So, when you decide to move those boxes inside, you will be bringing earwigs with them.

You can also bring these stubborn bugs into the house by accident if they are living under plants between your plant pots and the saucer. You will bring these bugs inside when you move the pots and saucers inside in winter.

Do Pincher Bugs Bite Humans?

It’s important to note that while earwigs can technically bite you, they seldom do. Instead, they are more likely to nip your skin and hold on tight. Sometimes, the pinch will be hard enough to break your skin or draw blood.

Can Pincher Bugs Kill You?

One of the most common questions by homeowners who have earwigs in their homes is: Are earwigs harmful or venomous?

Although their intimidating pincers and forceps, bulging from the abdomen, make them look dangerous, they are not. Pincher bugs can use their forceps to hold on to your finger if disturbed, but they do not sting nor are they venomous.

In Summary

If your house is crawling with pincher bugs and you are wondering: How to get rid of pincher bugs once and for all? This article gives you all the necessary information to eliminate stubborn bugs and their eggs. With these tips, you should keep your house and garden free of earwigs all through the year.

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