Knowing how to identify earwigs is your first step to controlling them.
What Do Earwigs Look Like
Earwigs range in size from ¼-1 inch long. They have elongated, flattened bodies that vary in color from pale brown with dark markings to reddish brown to black. Earwigs have six legs and threadlike antenna that measures about half of their body length. Most notably, however, are the pincers that protrude from the back of their abdomen. Earwigs also have two pairs of wings, with their hind wings usually folding underneath their front wings. These body parts typically have a leathery appearance to them. Not all earwig species fly, and those that do only do so in short bursts. Contrary to European folklore, earwigs do not crawl into ears and eat peoples’ brains at night. Thank goodness for that. But you still don’t want them in your home or business. So, calling in an earwig exterminator to provide you with the right earwig control treatments is your best bet.
How Did I Get Earwigs
Earwigs can come into your home or business through tiny cracks. They can even hitchhike in on deliveries and a pant leg! Since they are drawn to moisture and will scatter when seen, they love a good, humid basement or boiler room since it has the moisture they need and the privacy they want. When provoked by a need for food or a change in weather, earwigs may infiltrate homes and businesses by way of exterior cracks and openings. Once inside, they are found near water sources, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, and kitchens. Earwigs have also been known to make their way into other areas such as common living areas and bedrooms. Furthermore, these insects are attracted to lights, causing them to become a nuisance on patios and porches during summer evenings.
Where Do Earwigs Live
Earwigs usually spend their days hiding while feeding on leaves, flowers, fruits, mold, and insects at night. During the day, most earwig species tend to seek out cold, wet areas that are left undisturbed, such as small, moist crevices. When feeding at night, earwigs prefer decaying vegetation and plant items found beneath mulch or wet leaves. Additionally, certain types of earwigs will target seedlings, potentially rendering crops and garden plants unproductive due to the damage caused by these insects. Some earwig species will also prey on smaller arthropods and insects. When startled or uncovered, earwigs will quickly move and run away.
They can be found living together outdoors in large numbers, usually congregating under piles of lawn debris or mulch or in tree holes. This is a habit that scientists believe is caused by a pheromone produced by these insects. After spending the winter in small burrows in the ground outdoors, female earwigs will lay eggs in these burrows come springtime. Earwig eggs are relatively small, round in shape, and white to tan in color. Earwigs have been known to display maternal characteristics, tending to the eggs until they hatch and caring for the nymphs until they are able to find their own food.
What Problems Do Earwigs Cause
In addition to not crawling into peoples’ ears at night, earwigs also do not spread diseases. However, some species produce a foul-smelling liquid as a self-defense mechanism, and their menacing appearance can be alarming to homeowners. Earwigs actually pose a greater threat to garden plants, rather than people. While their pincers are used primarily to aid in reproduction, hunt prey, and for defense, earwigs will pinch humans if they are picked up or agitated. While the pinch can sometimes be painful, no venom is transferred, and the pinch rarely breaks the skin. Additionally, earwig pincers do not spread disease. So, the problems earwigs cause: annoyance!
How Can I Prevent Earwigs
To prevent any structural entry by earwigs, cracks and crevices should be well sealed with a silicone-based caulk, steel wool, or better yet – a combination of both. Seal doors and windows as well as attic and foundation vents. Since earwigs prefer moist protected areas, they usually congregate in areas with high condensation such as unventilated basements. Earwigs are also attracted to dirt and leaves, so an unfinished basement floor is an ideal environment for these pests. Using a dehumidifier and cleaning up cement floors can help prevent earwigs from getting comfortable. Also, trees or shrubs that cause damp, shady areas around the building should be trimmed. To ensure proper water drainage, make sure gutters and downspouts drain away from the building. This will help prevent any moisture build up that might attract earwigs. To help prevent an earwig infestation, remove their favorite sites like leaf and mulch piles on your property. Also consider moving objects such as firewood piles and logs away from your home or business, thereby creating a perimeter around you that is free of the organic material that can attract them.
We’re passionate about keeping earwigs out of your home or business because we live and work here – it’s our neighborhood, too. With our 130 years of experience keeping homes and businesses in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island safe from pests, Waltham has the experience you can trust.