After spending time outside or in your garden, it quickly becomes apparent that pests run wild. Almost anywhere you can find critters like mice, rats, earwigs, ants, etc. When there are just a few, they can be safe or even beneficial to an area, but when there are many, they can easily cause irreversible damage.
In most cases, earwigs are harmless to people and don’t like to be near them but can cause damage when there are infestations. There are many scents you can use to repel earwigs, such as eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, lemon, cinnamon, basil, lavender oil, clove oil, rosemary oil and white vinegar.
Read on to learn more about what causes earwig infestations, how to identify earwigs in your home, what scents repel earwigs, and of course, how to use those scents to get rid of them!
What Are Earwigs?
To understand how to address and solve an earwig problem, it is first important to understand what they are and how they operate.
In short, earwigs are mostly harmless bugs that are often feared in western culture. Earwigs are small insects (about ¾ of an inch long), that are shiny and black/brown in color. In addition, they often have multiple sets of legs and a large set of pinchers near their behind.
Another factor that makes earwigs unique is the fact that they can multiply, making countless numbers of offspring a week.
Where Do Earwigs Normally Live?
When not in your house/shed, earwigs tend to hide out during the day, opting to live and be in piles of low-lying debris such as dying leaves, tree bark, rocks, etc. Additionally, they often prefer dark and damp environments.
With this in mind, it is important to know that earwigs will simply move to the area that is most comfortable for them. This means that having a cluttered/damp/dark garage or house could make you very prone to an earwig infestation.
What Causes Earwig Infestations?
Earwig infections can be pretty irritating, if not dangerous in the worst of cases. This is because earwigs can both multiply very quickly, and damage things such as buildings or straw piles/debris.
Earwig infestations can simply be caused by you bringing them in through potted plants or wet material such as paper/cardboard. Earwigs can also travel into your house on their own when temperatures/conditions outside are too extreme, as they tend to move to the most comfortable location for them.
To put it simply, the best course of action you can take to avoid earwig infestations is to reduce the amount of wet material that you have around your property. This means cleaning up old piles of debris (especially if they are too close to your house), not creating large piles of papers/cardboard, and covering things before and during the rainy season.
Where Do Earwigs Lay Their Eggs?
Thankfully, earwigs generally don’t go in your ear. It’s a longstanding myth and thus, how they got their name.
Earwigs reproduce by laying eggs that later hatch into many babies. Typically, earwigs tend to lay their eggs in well-protected, moist, and dark areas such as under piles of debris and wet leaves.
Similar to how earwigs tend to gravitate towards debris and clutter, they also tend to lay their eggs within it. This means that managing piles and wet leaves around your house are crucial to stopping and preventing any earwig infestations.
Can Earwigs Get In Your House?
In short, yes. Earwigs can usually easily migrate into or near your house. Things such as bright lights at night and warmth can attract them into your house.
It is important to note that it is often a stressful event or condition that causes earwigs to go closer/into your house. This could mean especially cold seasons, especially warm seasons, lack of food, etc. All of these factors naturally wax and wain on their own, meaning you should be cautious if you see any extreme weather happening around you. This is especially true with cold conditions, as many earwigs often try to travel to your house for warmth over the winter seasons.
Light can also bring earwigs to your house. This is similar to how moths work, where they are simply attracted to it. Keeping this in mind, if you know you have large earwig populations near you, turning off excessive porch/garage lights (especially during colder/darker seasons) can help to prevent earwigs from getting in your house.
Using Scents To Repel Earwigs
A popular option nowadays is to use harsh chemicals and pesticides to get rid of earwigs. While this is usually effective, it is often harsh, can affect the health of your yard/plants, and can even affect the health of you and your pets.
Knowing this, more and more people are starting to use scents to repel earwigs. Scents have been heavily tested and proven to at least deter some pests (however each pest has specific scents that repel them).
How to Use Scents to Repel Earwigs
When we refer to scents in bug repellent, we are referring to concentrated or strong (preferably natural) scents such as essential oils and extracts.
With essential oils and scent concentrates, you can leave drops in the areas that you don’t want earwigs, spray diluted solutions near them, or even soak cotton balls in the scents and leave them in entry points.
9 Scents That Earwigs Hate
Now that we have learned what earwigs are, how they work, and why/how we can use scents to deter them, we can now discuss what specific scents repel earwigs, and how you can use those scents.
In general, it is good to know that earwigs (and other pests alike) tend to avoid very harsh and strong natural scents.
You should always check with a local professional regarding use of any of these scents.
Earwigs Hate Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus is a very popular scent used to repel many different types of pests. It has a strong, astringent odor that many bugs and rodents tend to avoid. In addition, eucalyptus oil seems to have a large area of effect, meaning a few drops can go a long way.
Eucalyptus is also a great scent to use due to how good it smells to humans as it can smell pleasant while you are repelling earwigs. Win, win!
Peppermint Oil Repels Earwigs
Peppermint is a very common scent to use against larger (rodent) pests, however, it is also very effective against insects such as earwigs. Due to the strength of peppermint, it doesn’t take a lot to be effective as a repellent, however, it is also easy to overpower yourself with the scent.
Naturally, the scent of peppermint oil irritates earwigs and causes them to stay away. You can get concentrated peppermint oil, or you can even get a general all around pest control spray like Mighty Mint Gallon Insect and Pest Control Peppermint Oil.
Might mint isn’t geared towards earwigs, but rather as a general pest control spray.
Lemons Deter Earwigs
The natural acidity of lemons is strong enough to cause irritation to earwigs (the scent.) This makes sense, as many pests are deterred from it due to its strong, acrid scent. Lemon is also a great scent to use, as it is versatile, and can come in many different forms/concentrations.
With versatility, you can often find lemon essential oils, artificial lemons scents, or even simply freshly squeezed lemon juice to use as a repellent for earwigs.
Most notably, lemon essential oil is going to be your best bet as it will be the most concentrated out of all the options.
Earwigs Stay Away From Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a classic scent used to repel many insects and animals. It is very harsh and even painful for animals in large/concentrated amounts. With this, you can often find cinnamon in many forms such as powder or essential oil.
Cinnamon can even repel other insects like mosquitoes. Mainly, cinnamon bark oil as it’s more robust and spicy than cinnamon leaf oil. The scent of cinnamon oil is irritating to earwigs and will cause them to stay away from the source. Cinnamon sticks may be enough to repel earwigs as well, and deteriorate slower.
Make sure to always wear gloves when handling cinnamon oil.
Basil Repels Earwigs
It may seem odd, however, many people also swear by basil for repelling bugs such as earwigs. Basil tends to be pest-repellent by nature and has a very strong/pungent scent.
Basil is preferred because it allows them to grow it themselves and use it straight from the garden, making this one of the most organic and natural options. It’s best to use basil oil for a more concentrated scent to repel earwigs.
Essentially, you’re getting the trend here. STRONG SCENTS are either irritating, confusing, or both to earwigs and cause them to stay away.
In the case that you don’t have any fresh growing basil around, you can also try to find basil essential oil, although it is more of a specialty scent, so you may have to specifically look at scent shops or online shops.
Lavender Oil Repels Earwigs
Lavender is another scent that may not seem like it would be effective, however it works well as a repellent. Most likely due to secondary compounds in the plant/its scent, it effectively repels a whole slew of pests (usually bugs.)
Lavender is extremely pungent, and well it may be pleasureful to humans, it’s overpowering and irritating to many insects, including earwigs.
Similar to the other ‘plant’ oriented solutions, you can either use essential oils or use fresh plants from the garden or grocery store. Ideally, use lavender essential oil as it’s more concentrated.
Earwigs Hate Clove Oil
Clove is a very strong scent, similar to that of pepper/Christmas-themed scents. Clove essential oil is also very common to use (as it is frequently used in natural healing), so it is a pretty accessible solution to use against earwigs.
The main downside of using clove is its strength, as it can easily overpower whatever area you are using it in (especially if it is a small doorway or room.) Positively, clove oil is extremely strong scented, and if it’s something you’d like to stay away from at full strength – will earwigs really get that close to it?
In addition to using clove essential oil, you can also use whole/crushed cloves from the store. When people use this option, they usually buy crushed cloves (or crush whole ones themselves) and sprinkle the powder near the areas you are trying to repel pests from.
Rosemary Essential Oil Repels Earwigs
Rosemary is a very common scent to use in the home, as well as being a very common plant. Similar to basil/cinnamon, most pests such as earwigs hate rosemary due to its strong, pungent scent.
Rosemary oil is also one of the most popular essential oils, meaning this is a very accessible option that you could probably find at your local grocery store (or at least online/at specialty shops).
The scent of a rosemary plant most likely won’t be enough to repel earwigs, but the concentrated version of rosemary essential oil is pungent enough to confuse an earwigs senses and cause them to stay away from an area before an infestation.
White Vinegar Repels Earwigs
White vinegar is one of the most versatile things to use in your home. Not only can it clean and disinfect, but it is a great repellent for almost anything.
Most people believe that the overpowering smell of vinegar is what repels animals, meaning that you could most likely use any type of strong-smelling vinegar (although most people opt for apple cider or white distilled vinegar.) White vinegar even repels larger animals like skunks.
One option for easy use is to just begin cleaning earwig potential areas with white vinegar solutions, like Heinz All Natural Cleaning Vinegar. It’s dual purpose use and strong enough to use as a cleaning agent.
Make sure that you DON’T use apple cider vinegar. It’s scent is potentially too sweet and may even attract earwigs if used.
How To Use These Scents To Deter Earwigs
With all of this information on what scents repel earwigs, it can be pretty daunting to even think of how to start using them in your home.
In general, there are a few things you should think about when picking what scent to use and how to use it. To start is the accessibility/cost. A few of the scents (such as basil), can be a little harder to find in essential oil form (or they can cost a lot), meaning these factors need to be taken into account before you can use them.
In addition to cost is personal taste. If you are looking to repel earwigs from areas like doorways or rooms, you most likely don’t want to stink up your house. This means that you may want to opt for a better smelling solution, such as lemon or rosemary, especially in comparison to harsher scents like vinegar.
Use Fresh Plants
One option that is common is using fresh plants. This means growing or purchasing cuttings of things like basil or rosemary and placing them around the places you want to repel.
Fresh plants often work great, as they have scents and secondary compounds that work together to repel pests.
Keep in mind, they will not be as strong as essential oils.
Cotton Balls With Essential Oil
A lot of people also opt to use cotton balls as the medium for essential oil. To use cotton balls, you simply want to soak (or use a few drops) the cotton ball in a mixture of your essential oil.
Cotton can hold on to scent much longer than plants themselves, and it is natural, making it a great solution for your pest problems.
When the cotton balls stop smelling, replace them!
Use Juices/Sprays To Repel Earwigs
You can also make juice for some of these scents such as lemon, which are great to spray around the areas you want the pests to stay away from. To do this, you can get juice or tea of whatever scent you are using, and slightly dilute it with water or vinegar to spray around the area.
In addition to juices, you can also make sprays by simply mixing water/vinegar with a few drops of essential oil, making it easier to spread the scent over a bigger area.
Make sure you follow any and all dilution instructions on whatever comes with your product.
For instance, if you don’t dilute white vinegar, it may stain some surfaces if you spray it directly.
That’s A Wrap!
In the end, earwigs can be pretty annoying pests to have around your garden and home. They can rapidly multiply, and cause damage to sensitive areas of buildings/paper piles. Instead of using harmful artificial scents/pesticides, you can use natural scents and oils that earwigs hate.
Some common scents earwigs hate are lemon, vinegar, clove, and basil. There are many ways to use these scents, such as essential oils, juices, sprays, cotton balls, etc. In the end, there are a few factors you should take into account when deciding what to do, such as what scents you appreciate, and how drastic your problem is!
B. B. Fulton, Some Habits of Earwigs., Annals of the Entomological Society of America, Volume 17, Issue 4, 1 December 1924, Pages 357–367.
Charles Barrows Bennett, “Earwigs (Anisolabia Maritima Bon.)”, Psyche: A Journal of Entomology, vol. 11, Article ID 060136, 7 pages, 1904.
Murray B Isman, Plant essential oils for pest and disease management, Crop Protection, Volume 19, Issues 8–10, 2000, Pages 603-608.
Regnault-Roger , C. The potential of botanical essential oils for insect pest control. Integrated Pest Management Reviews 2, 25–34 (1997).
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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