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5 Bugs That Look Like Earwigs

Earwigs are one of the most common insects in North America, but some bugs look like earwigs, which can be confusing. This can bewilder homeowners trying to identify and remove unwanted pests from their property. 

We’ll explore five bugs that look like earwigs, from harmless bugs like silverfish to potentially harmful pests like cockroaches. 

Key Pest Points:

•  Earwigs are long skinny bugs with pincer-like cerci at the end of their abdomens.

•  They are nocturnal, omnivorous and live under mulch, logs, and stones.
 
•  Many long black thin bugs resemble earwigs, including cockroaches, silverfish, firebrats, green lacewing larvae, termites, and more. 

•  Some insects can harm plants and buildings and even spread life-threatening diseases.

What Do Earwigs Look Like?

If you’ve ever encountered a skinny black bug with large antennas and pincers, it was most likely an earwig. At first glance, they may look like threatening insects, but they are quite harmless. This nocturnal insect has two pairs of wings, six legs, two antennas, and a powerful set of pincers called cerci. 

There are around 2,000 different species of earwigs, and depending on the species, they can grow between five to twenty-five millimeters in size. You can find these omnivorous insects under mulch, fallen leaves, logs, and heaps of wood. They usually live in groups and can be seen scurrying around on warm summer nights.

DID YOU KNOW?

Earwigs won’t go in your ears! While the name “earwig” may induce shudders, rest assured they have no interest in crawling into your ears. Any myth that earwigs are looking to nibble on brains is far from reality. Though these insects prefer dark and moist places, don’t worry- your brains are safe from harm!

5 Insects that Look Like Earwigs 

If you’ve ever been startled by an unwelcome visitor in your home, it could be one of these five common critters disguised as earwigs. Learn how to identify them and get rid of them quickly.

Cockroach on a clear rock.

1. Cockroaches

Cockroaches are one of the most widespread insects we can find anywhere. These speedy crawlers are often confused with earwigs because of their appearance. Like earwigs, they have long antennae and a pair of cerci and come in reddish-brown to black color. 

About 4,600 types of cockroaches feed on almost anything, from garbage to sweets, and can spread bacteria and diseases. Cockroaches are frequently linked with unsanitary living environments and can be hazardous to humans. However, not all bugs that resemble cockroaches are dangerous. Some are harmless and can be found in greenhouses.

Ways to Get Rid of Cockroaches

  • Use natural remedies such as diatomaceous earth, citrus, baking soda, and essential oils.
  • Purchase and set up sticky traps to capture roaches that are foraging for food.
  • Clean and vacuum your house often to remove all food sources.
  • Use chemical insecticides that are EPA approved. But make sure you read the safety instructions carefully.

Even though these are practical solutions, maintaining a clean and sanitary environment is the best way to eliminate any pest. This bug that looks like earwig can be annoying to find in your home, but you can eliminate them by following the tips above. 

Macro photo Silverfish on black background.

2. Silverfish

Silverfish are small, wingless bugs with antennae, typically 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, with flattened bodies. Commonly found in humid areas such as bathrooms, basements, and attics. 

Due to their similar body size, cerci, and antennas, people often confuse these bugs with earwigs. Another similarity is that they are nocturnal and prefer hiding during the day. Also, they resemble fleas in certain ways.

Ways to Get Rid of Silverfish

  • Keep your home clean and reduce humidity to prevent them from coming back.
  • Eliminate sources of food to prevent them from thriving.
  • Utilize natural repellents like cinnamon and citrus. 

Preventive measures like caulking cracks in walls and sealing windows can help keep them out.

3. Firebrats

Firebrats are tiny insects that belong to the family Lepismatidae. These bugs are generally found in warm and humid environments, such as boiler rooms, bakeries, and near ovens, and can withstand temperatures ranging from 89 to 105°F.

Although similar in shape, these tiny creatures are much smaller than earwigs and add to the confusion with their prominent pair of antennas. Together they make quite a puzzling sight.

Ways to Get Rid of Firebrats

  • Repair any leaking pipes, fractures in the walls, or holes in the woods first.
  • Clean your home regularly.
  • Set up homemade sticky traps.
  • Spray liquid insecticide around the affected area.

For better results, you can hire a professional pest control service to identify the source of the infestation and treat it accordingly.

4. Green Lacewing Larvae

Green lacewings are considered beneficial predators in agriculture and horticulture, as they help control pest populations and reduce the need for chemical pesticides. Like many other tiny green bugs, you can find green lacewing in your garden.

Notorious for their insatiable appetites, green lacewing larvae devour anything from the tiny aphid to its insect brethren like whiteflies and mites. However, be careful when identifying as these creatures can easily be mistaken for earwigs due to their similar size and formidable pincer-like mandibles.

Ways to Get Rid of Green Lacewing Larvae

  • Examine your plants for aphids and thrips and prevent their infestation. 
  • The affected plants can be treated with natural insecticides like diatomaceous earth (DE) or neem oil.
  • You can also fill up any cracks or crevices that accommodate the larvae and prevent them from entering.

These measures can help reduce the population of green lacewing larvae in your garden. Additionally, you can introduce beneficial predators to help control their numbers.

5. Termites

Termites might not be the first thing that comes to mind when picturing earwig lookalikes, but this small bug is often mistaken for an earwig due to its size and shape. Termites are found in brown colors and have six legs, just like earwigs.

These bugs have a unique ability to digest cellulose found in woods thanks to the presence of Archaea, Eubacteria, protozoa, yeasts, and fungi in their gut. Due to their wood-damaging capabilities, they are considered a major pest in many parts of the world.

Ways to Get Rid of Termites

  • Use non-chemical treatments like boric acid and heat treatment.
  • Inspect your home for cracks or holes that serve as termite entry points.
  • Remove any rotting wood from your property.
  • Keep the environment around your house dry and free of debris. 

Bait systems can also be used to control termite infestations. Professional pest control services can help determine the best treatment for your home and eliminate these bugs effectively. 

These are just some common insects often mistaken for earwigs due to their similar shape and size. Knowing how to differentiate between these bugs is key to getting rid of them safely and efficiently.

Are Insects Resembling Earwigs Harmful?

Identifying bugs resembling earwigs is crucial for effective pest control and personal safety. While many of these earwig impersonators may not be harmful, some can cause damage to plants, structures, and even humans.

These pests also spread diseases that these earwig-like insects carry or the dangers they pose to humans. 

InsectsDangers
CockroachCholera, Dysentery, Giardia, Typhoid Fever
SilverfishDoes not carry any harmful diseases but can damage wallpaper and clothing.
FirebratDoes not carry any harmful diseases.
Green Lacewing LarvaeDoes not spread any dangerous diseases 
TermiteDoes not carry any harmful diseases but can cause allergies or asthma and destroy personal belongings, buildings, and more. 

If you spot a strange bug in your home, it could be the work of a mischievous earwig. Contact pest control specialists who can determine what type of creature is causing problems and recommend a suitable remedy for eliminating them from your home.

FAQ

Are house earwigs harmful?

Earwigs may seem intimidating with their pincers, but rest assured, they are harmless to humans and can benefit your garden. These little critters feed on pesky insects like aphids, mites, and other insect eggs – helping you maintain a pest-free oasis.

Where do earwigs hide in your house?

Earwigs can be found in dark, damp areas of your home, such as basements, crawl spaces, and underneath appliances. They may also hide in cracks or crevices around window sills and doors.

Are earwigs hard to get rid of?

Earwigs are a pesky problem that can multiply rapidly, but luckily there are several ways to help eliminate them. Diatomaceous earth is an organic insecticide that effectively gets rid of earwigs, and baits or traps may also be used for capture. An additional strategy could involve bringing in predators who feed on the pests – helping reduce their population without harsh chemicals or products.

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