Updated: February 16, 2023

Earwigs are a type of insect that many people try to repel due to their perceived creepy appearance and their potential to cause damage to plants. One popular insect repellent that people often turn to is DEET, which has been used for decades to ward off a variety of insects. But does DEET work against earwigs specifically? In this article, we will explore the effectiveness of DEET as a repellent for earwigs and discuss alternative methods for keeping these insects at bay.

What are Earwigs?

Earwigs are small insects that are typically brown or black in color. They have long, slender bodies and pincers at the end of their abdomens. Despite their intimidating appearance, earwigs are not harmful to humans and do not carry diseases. They are primarily known for their habit of hiding in dark, damp places such as under rocks or in piles of leaves.

How Does DEET Work?

DEET, which stands for N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, is a chemical compound that was first developed by the U.S. Army in the 1940s as a way to protect soldiers from disease-carrying insects. DEET works by masking the scent of carbon dioxide and lactic acid, which are two chemicals that insects use to locate their prey. When an insect cannot detect these chemical signals, it is less likely to bite or sting.

Effectiveness Against Different Types of Insects

DEET has been found to be highly effective against a wide range of insects, including mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas. However, its effectiveness can vary depending on factors such as the concentration of DEET in the product and the type of insect being repelled.

Studies on DEET and Earwigs

While there have been scientific studies conducted on the effectiveness of DEET against mosquitoes and other insects, there is little research available specifically on its effectiveness against earwigs. One study conducted in 1999 found that DEET was somewhat effective at repelling earwigs, but not as effective as other insecticides such as pyrethroids.

Limitations of Studies

It’s important to note that studies on DEET and other insecticides often use laboratory conditions that may not accurately reflect real-world situations. Additionally, the effectiveness of DEET can vary depending on factors such as the concentration of the product used and how frequently it is applied.

Alternatives to DEET for Repelling Earwigs

If you’re looking for an alternative to DEET for repelling earwigs, there are several natural remedies you can try. One popular method is to sprinkle diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of your home or garden. This substance is made from fossilized algae and can be effective at repelling a variety of insects, including earwigs.

Another natural remedy is to plant certain herbs and flowers that are known to repel insects. Examples include lavender, mint, and marigolds.

Comparison of Effectiveness

While DEET is generally considered the most effective insect repellent on the market, natural remedies such as diatomaceous earth and herbal plantings can be effective alternatives for those who prefer not to use chemicals.


In conclusion, while there is some evidence that DEET can be effective at repelling earwigs, there is not enough research available to definitively say whether or not it is the best option for this particular insect. If you’re looking for a natural alternative to chemical insecticides, planting certain herbs and flowers or using diatomaceous earth may be worth exploring. Regardless of which method you choose, taking steps to prevent water buildup around your home or garden can also help reduce the risk of attracting earwigs in the first place.