Earwigs are odd looking insects which have pincers or forceps protruding from the abdomen. These are somewhat intimidating looking but they are not poisonous, and they do not spread disease.
Some species produce a foul-smelling liquid that they use for defence. Earwigs also produce a pheromone (scent). Scientists believe that this pheromone is the reason that earwigs cluster together in large numbers
There is a superstition that earwigs burrow into the ears of people while they sleep. This is a myth and without any scientific basis. Earwigs frighten many people because of the pincers on the back of their abdomens. Earwigs use these pincers for defence and for sparing with rival earwigs.
Depending on the species, adults range in size from 5-25 mm.
They are slender insects with two pair of wings. Dermaptera means “Skin wing” due to the leathery appearance of the wings. The hind wings typically fold under the front wings.
Where do they live?
As with any other type of insect with multiple species, biology and habits vary. Most types of earwigs generally prefer wet areas which are cooler and undisturbed. Earwigs can be a serious garden pest if conditions are right. If there is the adequate ground cover, wet soil, and food, the earwigs will do well.
Earwigs typically feed on live sprouts or decaying vegetation and, in rare cases, some species are predators.
Earwigs are relatively fast moving. They run away quickly when the ground litter is moved, uncovering them.
Earwigs are active at night. During the day they hide in cracks in damp areas. They live under rocks and logs and in mulch in flowerbeds. Earwigs eat plants and insects.
Attracted to lighting
Earwigs are attracted to lights. They can become a nuisance on porches and patios on summer evenings. In the morning they will be gathered under things like cushions that were left outside overnight.
How Did I Get Earwigs?
Earwigs move into homes to find food or because of a change in weather. They usually wind up indoors while seeking shelter or just happen to wander inside through open doors. Earwigs prefer cool, damp areas and may enter homes during extended dry periods.
Homeowners often find them in areas where there is water – kitchens, bathrooms, and laundries. Earwigs can also find their way into bedrooms and family rooms. They turn up in almost every part of the house, but infestations are rare.
Females typically lay between 30 and 50 but actual numbers depend on species. After hatching, the nymphs undergo four to five molts until they become adults. Immature earwigs (nymphs) resemble the adults except they do not have wings.
The most important part of controlling earwigs is eliminating their hiding places. If the earwig harborages are not addressed, insecticide application will probably not control earwigs very well. There are a variety of things that can be done.
• Clean Up – Move landscape timbers, logs, decorative stones, and firewood piles away from the foundation.
• Eliminate Moist Soil – Create a zone next to the foundation that is free of mulch, dead leaves, and other organic material. The “dry zone” should be 15 to 30 wide so that earwigs will avoid it.
• Trim Overhanging Branches – Trim trees and shrubs that cause damp, shady areas near the house.
Around the Home
• Proper Drainage is Key – Examine gutters and downspouts to make sure they drain away from the foundation. Set irrigation systems in the morning and allow the landscape to dry during the day.
• Switch Up Exterior Lighting – Adjust outdoor lights to shine from the yard onto the house – insects will be attracted away from the house. If moving outside light fixtures is not practical, consider changing light bulbs to yellow bulbs since white lights are more attractive to insects.
• Secure Possible Entry Points – Repair screens on crawl space vents and make sure the vents are not blocked.
• Dry Out Moisture-Prone Areas – A dehumidifier might help in a damp basement.
If you need support to eradicate earwigs in your house, please contact HNPC to get a free consultation on comprehensive pest control services.