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Do Earwigs Really Crawl Into Your Ears?

Updated: Mar 15

Is it just a myth or do earwigs really like to crawl into your ears while you're sleeping?

It is never pleasant to find an earwig anywhere, but can you imagine one crawling into your ear? While not everything about earwigs myths may be accurate, there are some unfortunate truths as well.

Good thing they're little because these things look scary up close!

a close up of an earwig on a plant

Before we get into myth-busting, let's talk some more about the bugs themselves. Earwigs are very common in Central Virginia and can be found all over the greater Richmond area. This article will help you learn a little more about earwigs, what they look like, where they live and yes, if they climb into your ears.


What Do Earwigs Look Like?

Even though the picture above make earwigs look like terrifying monsters, they're actually pretty small. Earwigs are only about an inch long with narrow bodies. They are often dark brown and have antennae on one end and a pincher on the other. They can actually pinch you with that gross looking body, but because they are so small and their pinchers are not very strong, getting pinched by an earwig will rarely puncture your skin. A few species of earwigs have wings, but more often than not, they are wingless. Watch out, though, because they're fast on those legs!


The most common earwig we find in new customers' homes across the Greater Richmond area is the European earwig. These earwigs can get slightly longer than an inch, and they often have a reddish tint to their bodies. Some of these earwigs will also have lighter brown

areas on their bodies.

Where Do Earwigs Live in Virginia?

Unfortunately, the answer to that is pretty much everywhere! Earwigs are very common across the state of Virginia and you've likely encountered some in your own living spaces recently, as populations in Central Virginia have bloomed the last few years.

Earwigs are scavengers, so they are attracted to rotting plants and dead insects. Earwigs have also been known to prey on other insects and eat tender vegetation, especially of ornamental and vegetable plants. Because of this, earwigs are most commonly found in piles of decaying organic matter, such as mulch or leaf piles. These insects also like to hide beneath rocks, in cracks of sidewalks or other dark, moist locations. Earwigs can even tunnel up to six feet in the ground to escape the cold.

Maintaining a chemical barrier will help prevent these bugs from seeking shelter in your home, as will removing debris and organic material from around the foundation of your home.

Do Earwigs Really Crawl Into Your Ears?

Now time for the real question. Do earwigs really crawl into your ears and lay their eggs? Or even worse, is the ancient myth true - that earwigs will crawl into your auditory canal and start to eat your brain?!

No. At least, no to some of that. The National Institute of Health has debunked the theory that the earwigs will eat your brain or lay eggs in your ears. However, there are enough documented examples of clinicians having to remove earwigs from patients' ear canals, the part about earwigs crawling into your ears while your sleeping is sometimes, horrifyingly, true! While they won't eat your brain, they'll still cause significant discomfort (and maybe some emotional trauma along with it!).

Are you going to be the unlucky person chosen by the earwig as a resting spot? Don't risk it! Virginia Pest Pro wants to help you keep earwigs out of your home... and your ears! Call us today!

For more information on pests in Virginia, check out our Pest Library!


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