Discovering unwanted pests in your Northeastern and Southeastern PA home can be a hassle, especially destructive ones like termites and carpenter ants.

However, the most common bugs in Pennsylvania that rear their ugly heads each year are typically innocuous insects found in our gardens or crawl spaces. One of the most common but icky insects you may encounter each fall is the pincher bug or earwig.

Whether you’ve seen them crawl out from underneath a rock or spotted them in your basements, pincher bugs can often be found hiding around most Pennsylvania homeowner’s properties without their knowledge.


While pincher bugs don’t typically invade your home in massive colonies, they can pop up quite often where they are unwelcome.

If you are experiencing issues with pincher bugs in your home, read on for seven tips to get rid of them.

How to Get Rid of Pincher Bug also known as earwigs

What Are Pincher Bugs?

Pincher bugs are small insects, also known as earwigs, that cluster together. Spotting one pincher bug will often mean spotting a dozen additional ones.

Pincher bugs are little winged creatures, though not all fly, identified by the pinchers on their back. While not dangerous, they do secrete a foul-smelling liquid to ward off predators. They can also damage plants in your garden by feasting on the leaves.

While they may find their way into your home, you will rarely find a big infestation. The females lay between 30-50 eggs and normally go through five molt stages before adulthood.

How to Spot Pincher Bugs

Earwigs are quick, nocturnal insects that love places high in moisture. You can typically find them under rocks, in wet soil, mulch, or under logs. They especially thrive in damp conditions.

You’ll often find earwigs when you’re not looking for them, as they tend to hide pretty comfortably in small spaces.

Like many other insects, they eat plants and insects and are attracted to light. While they are harmless, they can become quite a nuisance.

When Are Pincher Bugs Most Active?

Look for pincher bugs during the late spring, summer, and fall months when the weather remains warm or moderate. Once the cold weather sets in,  these insects look for a place to dwell elsewhere, and their populations will begin to dwindle.

Should I Be Worried About Pincher Bugs

Pincher bugs are completely harmless creatures that do not bite, sting, or transfer venom.

The biggest cause for concern with pincher bugs will be protecting your plants from these herbivores.

Thankfully, you can get rid of pincher bugs fairly easily using the seven tips we listed below.

7 Ways to Get Rid of Pincher Bugs

Are you dealing with unwanted pincher bugs on your property? By following these treatment and prevention tips, get rid of pincher bugs in very little time.

1. Monitor Any Entrance Ways

The best way to get rid of any insects is to stop them from getting in. Make sure your doors and windows are sealed around the edges and shut tightly. Monitor your house at the ground level. Check any basement windows, vents, or any other possible openings and cover them with mesh. As you perform your recon, it’s a good idea to seal any small cracks or openings in the foundations. This will not only protect you from earwigs but other summer insects as well.

2. Keep It Dry

Pincher bugs search for areas with high moisture. While outdoors, this might mean finding a spot under a rotting log or in your flower bed. Inside, it means hiding away in your basement by the washing machine or in your wet towels.

To avoid any earwig issues, monitor the moisture in your home. Fix leaky pipes, frequently change out wet towels, and repair the dripping sink. Consider getting a dehumidifier if your home is extremely humid, especially in basements. The less moisture, the fewer pincher bugs.

3. Vacuum Them Up!

A simple way to get rid of earwigs is to vacuum them up. The vacuum is the perfect tool to suck up these pests and their eggs. It can be especially effective for removing these insects from your carpeting or from hard-to-reach places.

Once you’ve sucked them up, you can dispose of the vacuum bag, empty the contents outdoors, or dump the contents into a bucket of soapy water. Be careful with any removal; these insects are quick and will be looking for an escape. Be prepared before opening your vacuum.

4. Use Simple Solutions

There are a few easy and natural pesticides you can use to kill earwigs. Boric acid is one of the most common. It’s a powdery substance you can sprinkle around highly infested areas where the insects will scurry through and die on contact.

While boric acid is effective, it is dangerous for animals and young children. If you want to avoid boric acid, try a mixture of dish soap and water or rubbing alcohol and water. These substances won’t be harmful to your pets or children, and they will kill earwigs. Just spray them with one of these mixtures, which should do the trick.

5. Keep Your Yard Tidy

Overgrowth and untamed grass are two enticing features many pests look for. With earwigs, plenty of greenery and overgrown areas mean many moist areas to call home. Keep your yard and home earwig-free by maintaining your property.

Practice pest yard control by cutting the grass and applying mulch around the base of your home. If you have a garden, plant things that encourage birds or toads. They are natural predators of pincher bugs and will help keep the population low.

6. Change the Lighting

Insects like earwigs are attracted to lighting. Try to move lights away from the home. Since this may not be possible for every home, if you can’t move the lights away, try to change the bulbs from white to yellow. The brighter the light, the more bugs it will attract.

7. Proper Drainage

The key to keeping earwigs away is eliminating excess moisture around your home. Maintain your gutters and irrigation system. Pincher bugs thrive in moist soil, and if that soil is close to your home, they will also find a way inside.

Use gravel or white stone around the foundation to keep the moisture away from your home’s base. Avoid using mulch, as this will be a draw. Actively monitor your property after rain and fix overly damp areas surrounding your home.

Preventing Pincher Bug Invasions

While not harmful or dangerous, earwigs are not welcome house guests. To keep these little pests out, prevention is your best method. Care for your property, garden, and home by monitoring the amount of moisture and encouraging natural predators.

Of course, if your issue is more serious than a few stray pincher bugs, consider consulting a professional pest control expert to help resolve your issue. Enjoy the warm summer days pest-free with proper care and pest prevention.

FAQs: Pincher Bugs

How can I differentiate pincher bugs from other insects?

Pincher bugs can be distinguished by their elongated bodies, reddish-brown or black coloration, and prominent pincers at the end of their abdomen. These features set them apart from other insects, although their appearance may vary slightly depending on species and developmental stage.

Can pincher bugs damage plants or property?

While pincher bugs may feed on plant matter and occasionally damage delicate plants, they are not typically considered significant pests in agricultural or horticultural settings. However, in large numbers, they may cause minor aesthetic damage to leaves and flowers.

Are there any natural repellents for pincher bugs?

Certain natural repellents, such as diatomaceous earth, cedar oil, and citrus-based sprays, may help deter pincher bugs from entering specific areas. Additionally, maintaining a dry and well-ventilated environment can make indoor spaces less hospitable to these insects.