Earwigs are a fairly well-known insect, from folk lore if not from actual experience. The earwig is the insect reputed in superstition to purposefully crawl into the ears of sleeping persons for the purpose of burrowing into the brain to lay eggs. Of course, there is no truth to these tales, though earwigs, like moths, beetles, cockroaches, ants, and flies may wander into our ear canals by accident.
Earwigs are fairly common and are rarely noticed except after wet weather. Earwigs are relatively easy to identify by the prominent pincers or forceps on the end of the abdomen. On females the pincers are fairly straight, while male pincers are more curved and caliper-like. These pincers are used as both offensive and defensive weapons. Though they may try to pinch if captured and handled, they do not harm people. The common earwig is about 5/8-inch long and dark brown with a reddish head and pale yellow-brown legs.
DAMAGE CAUSED BY EARWIGS
Earwigs are outdoor insects usually found in damp areas, such as under mulch, dead leaves, logs, and piles of firewood, boards, stones and other debris or in rotted wood where they feed on moist, decaying plant material. Earwigs occasionally attack living plants, including vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants.
The earwig as a household pest is an accidental invader. They enter houses either by accident or when seeking shelter, especially in the fall or during periods of prolonged dry weather. Earwigs inside the house do not cause any harm or destruction. They are an annoyance or nuisance because of their presence. If disturbed, earwigs may produce a noticeable foul odor.
MANAGEMENT OF EARWIGS
- Earwigs found inside the house can be swept or picked up and discarded.
- Reduce outdoor lighting that attracts earwigs around doors and windows.
- Eliminate damp, moist conditions near the house such as around faucets and air-conditioning units.
- Channel water from rain gutters and spouts away from the house foundation.
- Consider removing landscape mulch (wood chips, gravel, etc.) from against the house.
- Prevent entry by using caulking compound, putty and weather stripping around doors, windows, pipes and other entry sites, especially at the ground level.
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