Why (And Where) You’re More Likely To See Earwigs At Night

Why You Always See Earwigs At Night

Earwigs are a well-known pest that has been wrapped up in lore and legend about crawling in our ears while we sleep. While this fact may not be true, the fact that earwigs are more likely to be seen at night is totally true!

You are more likely to see earwigs at night because the humidity is higher at night and the darkness provides earwigs with safety from watchful daytime predators.

Earwigs love the shade and moisture, which are higher at night and are also attracted to lights and search for food at night.

Many scary things are hiding in the night, and earwigs are one of them! Read on to discover all the reasons why (and where) you’re more likely to see earwigs at night. 

* This post contains affiliate links.

Are Earwigs Most Likely To Come Out At Night?

While it’s not impossible to see an earwig during the day, you are far more likely to see them creeping around in the dark of night.

Earwigs become active at night as temperatures cool off and humidity increases. Their bodies are sensitive to arid climates and hot temperatures, and nighttime is the perfect opportunity to avoid both.

Like most insects, earwigs have a tough exoskeleton that is susceptible to drying out if they spend too long in the sun, which is why they prefer to move around in the dark.

Earwigs Are Nocturnal By Nature

It may seem like earwigs only hang out in our homes and gardens, but earwigs are found everywhere in nature.

Some animals, like coyotes, have adjusted their natural sleeping cycle so that they avoid people as much as possible. Who can relate? Earwigs, on the other hand, are naturally nocturnal and always have been.

These pincher bugs have it ingrained in their DNA to come out at night when it’s dark and moist to avoid drying out.

Earwigs may be more active during the day on cloudy, rainy days, but for the most part, they act like vampires and avoid the sun, daytime, and all things light-related.

Earwigs Also Love Dark Places During The Day

Not only do earwigs prefer to crawl around during the night, but during the day they also seek out dark areas.

There are a ton of places that offer earwigs protection from the sun and dryness during the day:

  • Under welcome mats
  • Beneath potted plants
  • In the mulch
  • In cracks in the pavement, stone, or bricks
  • Beneath loose soil in the garden
  • Under vines, bushes, or leaf piles

Think of anywhere in your yard that stays consistently shady and cool during the day and you will probably find earwigs there.

weeds growing in pavement

Why Do Earwigs Like To Come Out At Night?

What is it about the full moon, the dark, and the black abyss that attracts earwigs? Okay, maybe not the full moon, but you get the idea – earwigs love to come out at night!

There are a few reasons why earwigs like to come out at night. Some are related to food and attractants while others are more of a survival instinct.

Let’s take a closer look at why these creepy crawlers prefer nighttime over the daytime.

Earwigs Come Out At Night To Search For Food

One of the reasons that earwigs come out at night is to search for food. This typically means plant material, but earwigs are omnivores and will also eat smaller insects.

Earwigs will eat decaying plant matter, other insects, and healthy plants. 

More specifically, some of their favorite plants include:

  • Marigolds
  • Dahlias
  • Butterfly bush
  • Hostas

There are a few more as well, which we discuss in our guide on the common plants that earwigs eat!

french marigolds close up

In terms of insects, earwigs will eat aphids, mites, and insect eggs. They will also scavenge on insects that are already dead.

When catching live prey, earwigs use their famous pinchers to hold their prey. Other than that, the pinchers of an earwig do not do any harm and are not strong enough to ‘pinch’ human skin.

We now know what earwigs eat, but why do they choose nighttime to feed?

According to an article in the journal, The Science of Nature, it has a lot to do with caterpillars and stem borer insects. When these two bugs damage plants, the plant emits a volatile compound that the earwigs can sniff out with their keen sense of smell.

In the study, they found that earwigs active during the day will not respond to the volatiles, but at night the volatiles lead earwigs to the damaged plants and they will feed on them.

For some reason, earwigs do not feed during the day but have no problem chowing down at night.

Night Can Provide Safety For Earwigs

Earwigs can fall prey to a large number of other animals. Their ferocious appearance may scare off people, but other hungry animals have no problem picking them off.

Some of the animals that eat earwigs include:

  • Toads
  • Frogs
  • Wasps
  • Birds
  • Spiders
  • Larger insects
  • Lizards

With such a large volume of predators, earwigs will do everything they can to keep from being eaten. 

One way that earwigs try to stay safe from predators is by coming out at night instead of during the day. Many predators such as birds and wasps are only active during the day.

By coming out at night, earwigs are lowering their chances of running into a hungry predator.

Earwigs Are Attracted to Lights At Night

According to Penn State University, twenty-two different species of earwigs inhabit the United States. The most popular earwig found in homes is the European earwig.

However, there are a few more that are commonly seen around the home and garden. Some of these species come out at night because they are attracted to lights.

The most well-known earwig that is attracted to light is the striped earwig. When it comes out at night to feed, these earwigs will venture toward lights 

The scary part about earwigs is that they DO have wings! Ugh… flying earwigs!? The good news is that they rarely use them to fly, and if they do it is over very short distances.

When it comes to lights on your porch or walkway, earwigs are more likely to crawl toward the light and make their way up the wall where they feed on any injured or deceased insects.

One way to combat this is by using amber-colored outdoor lights. Bugs are particularly attracted to blue and white lights, so using amber can help minimize any earwig sightings.

Explux’s Commercial-Grade Amber LED PAR38 Flood Light Bulbs are 120W and are weatherproof so they can stand up to the outdoor elements. These can replace your current white lights to help stop earwigs (and other bugs) from being attracted to your porch light.

Where Are You More Likely To See Earwigs At Night?

During the day, earwigs are content to stay under rocks, in the soil, or under your welcome mat to stay cool and moist.

At night, earwigs will begin to stir and walk around in the open as they search for food or other attractants.

There are a few different places you’ll likely see earwigs at night. Nighttime is a good opportunity to identify exactly which pests are munching on your plants. Once you identify that it is earwigs, you can implement some strategies to get rid of them.

Earwigs Flock To Your Plants At Night

We mentioned earlier that earwigs feed on both dead plant matter and healthy plants. At night, you can find them seeking out plant material to chow down on.

Earwigs are often found inside the leaves and on the flowers and petals of ornamental and vegetable/fruit plants at night.

You can find earwigs in your garden or your flower bed. They’ll also scurry onto your indoor ornamentals if they can find them, though this is unlikely.

You Can Find Earwigs On Your Porch Or Patio At Night

Porch lights are an attractant for many flying insects, but they also attract other skittering insects like earwigs and cockroaches. 

Your porch lights not only attract flying insects and earwigs, but it also attracts predators that feed on these bugs. You’ve probably seen a ton of decaying insects scattered around your porch lights.

This unsightly array of decaying bugs acts as a buffet for scavenger insects like earwigs. 

It’s not only the food that attracts earwigs to your porch, but the light itself is attractive to certain species of earwigs like the striped earwig.

When the porch light turns off and the sun comes up, earwigs are going to skitter away and crawl under your welcome mat, potted plants, or mulch to hide away the day.

Just to add, your porch is a great place to use some of the best earwig sprays!

Earwigs Can Be Seen Emerging From Their Hiding Places At Night

If it’s not too late, you may be able to catch earwigs coming out of their nest or hiding place at night.

This is especially useful if you want to get rid of the nest or want to find where earwigs are staying during the day so that you can eliminate their hiding places.

Some of the areas where you might see earwigs emerging include:

  • Cracks in the pavement
  • Mulch
  • Beneath stones
  • Under welcome mats
  • Under potted plants
  • Inside your home
  • Beneath old boards or rotting wood

Think of any place around your yard or home that stays cool, moist, and shady during the day. These are the areas where you’re most likely to see earwigs emerging at night.

For tips on where to spot them in your home, you can read more about the most common places to find earwigs in your home here.

How To Prevent Earwigs From Coming Out At Night

Earwigs may not do any damage to your home or cause monumental problems in the garden, but we still don’t want them hanging around inside our homes.

If you can prevent earwigs from coming out at night, you’re less likely to see them scurrying around your garden or bathroom.

When it comes to preventing earwigs from coming out at night, you have a few different options. The most effective option is to eliminate the attractants in your yard and home that draw earwigs near in the first place.

Eliminate Attractants

Earwigs need food, water, moisture, shade, and shelter to survive. While it may seem insurmountable to eliminate all of these things, you can start small and work your way up.

  • Food: Earwigs love to chow down on aphids. If you can repel aphids, it will help repel earwigs. You can read about aphids and some removal tips here. Earwigs also eat decaying plant matter, so be sure to clean up any dead or dying plants.
  • Water & moisture: To keep earwigs from coming out at night, eliminate sources of moisture such as leaky faucets, sprinklers, and irrigation lines. Use dehumidifiers in laundry rooms. Avoid overwatering your lawn and allow it to dry between waterings.
  • Shade & shelter: Avoid letting leaves pile up in your yard. Remove brush piles, old bricks, boards, and building materials. After it rains, allow the welcome mats to dry out. Use caulking or other sealants to eliminate cracks in the pavement or siding.

If there’s nothing in your yard to attract earwigs, there’s no longer a reason for them to hang out in your yard or wiggle their way inside your home.

One more thing that attracts earwigs is healthy plants. They’ll eat the leaves of your vegetable plants, ornamentals, and fruit plants.

To keep earwigs from being attracted to this buffet, you can use a repellent that contains the ingredient spinosad. According to the University of California, spinosad is very effective against earwigs.

Monterey 2.5 lbs Sluggo Plus Spinosad contains this ingredient and comes in pellet form. Spread the pellets around affected plants to repel earwigs and make your plants unappetizing.

Always read the label and directions before using the product.

Try Using Traps

Traps are another way to prevent earwigs from coming out at night and wreaking havoc on your plants.

You only need a few things to make an earwig trap:

  • Tuna can or cat food can
  • Vegetable oil or tuna fish oil

Place ½ inch of vegetable oil or tuna fish oil in the empty can and bury the can so that the top is flush with the soil.

You can place multiple traps out around your plants or in areas where you’ve seen earwigs emerging.

Place the traps out in the evening and check them in the morning. If you were successful, empty the cans and refill them so that you can place them out again the following evening.

Another way to trap earwigs is by using newspaper or corrugated paper. Place crumpled newspaper or corrugated paper around your plants at night.

Check the traps during the middle of the day the following day. Earwigs will use newspaper and corrugated paper as a hiding place during the day. Shake the earwigs into some soapy water to eliminate them.

You can replace the traps in the evening and continue using them until you no longer see earwig damage or until you stop seeing them inside your home.

That’s A Wrap!

That’s all we have for now on why and where you’re more likely to see earwigs at night. These nocturnal beasts may look scary, but they’re harmless and can do some good pest management around the garden.

If you’re seeing earwigs at night, there are a few reasons why:

  • High humidity
  • Cooler temperatures
  • Searching for food
  • Safety from predators
  • Attracted to the lights

When earwigs come out, there are a couple of different places you’re more likely to see them crawling around such as your porch, your plants, or near their nests and daytime hiding places.

To prevent earwigs from coming out at night, eliminate things that attract them and try using traps or repellents to keep them away from your favorite plants and vegetables.

If all else fails and you can’t seem to get rid of these pincher bugs, you can always reach out to a professional for help! Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in contact with a local professional in your area.


He, X.Z., Q. Wang, and J. Xu. “European Earwig As a Potential Biological Control Agent of Apple Leafcurling Midge”. New Zealand Plant Protection 61 (August 1, 2008): 343–349.

Malagnoux, L., Marliac, G., Sylvaine, S., Magali, R., & Capowiez, Y. (2015, January 07). Management strategies in apple orchards influence earwig community. Chemosphere, 124, 156-162.

Naranjo-Guevara, N., Peñaflor, M.F.G.V., Cabezas-Guerrero, M.F. et al. Nocturnal herbivore-induced plant volatiles attract the generalist predatory earwig Doru luteipes Scudder. Sci Nat 104, 77 (2017).

Robert J Orpet, David W Crowder, Vincent P Jones, Biology and Management of European Earwig in Orchards and Vineyards, Journal of Integrated Pest Management, Volume 10, Issue 1, 2019, 21.

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