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Eww! Earwigs

Updated on October 17, 2014
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Earwig Facts & Information

Just the thought of an earwig makes my skin crawl. I am not a fan of any type of insect, although many are beneficial to our environment. The jury is out on whether the earwig has any benefits at all.

Just what is an Earwig?

A genus of insects of the cockroach family, possessing two pairs of wings, and anal forceps. It is of nocturnal habits, lives on vegetable matter, and hides by day under stones or bark.

Their are many different types of Earwigs but generally they will all posses a set of pinchers attached to their abdomen or hind end. Theses pinchers seem to give these insects an even more eery and sinister look.

Earwigs can be found in North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.

Earwigs were first introduced to North America in 1907 by Europe and tend to thrive in the southern or south eastern states. Earwigs do not survive outdoors in colder climates. There are about 2,000 species of Earwigs.

If you have discovered some earwig activity around your house, there are many ways to get rid of them.

Earwig Image - Common Earwig

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Earwig Facts

Some details about the earwig.

A small insect, sometimes placed in the order Orthoptera, sometimes in the seperate order. Dermaptera. It has biting mouth-parts, very short leathery front wings, voluminous radially-veined hind wings folded beneath them, and a pair of defensive nippers at the end of the body.

It undergoes no metamorphosis. The name is developed from the Anglo-Saxon eare, ear, and wicga, insect, perhaps with reference to the supposed cases of the insect creeping into the human ear.

Earwigs eat animal and vegetable matter, and a comparatively harmless, although doing a certain amount of damage to gardens, but occasionally they prove a nuisance by invading houses in great numbers.

Earwig Facts

Do earwigs crawl in your ears?

Fact or Fiction?

Have you heard this before?

At one time it was believed that during the night, while you slept; that an earwig would crawl into your ear and lay eggs in your brain.

Eww! That is one creepy thought.

This is a wives tale which may have contributed to the name of this strange little insect. Since earwigs prefer dark, moist and small spaces they most certainly could crawl into your ear, as is the case with any other insect but it is highly unlikely. And they will not be laying any eggs in your brain anytime soon.

Earwigs at a Glance

The earwig are any of a group of small brown or black insects that resemble beetles. The earwig has a hard slender body that bears threadlike antennae, chewing mouthparts, and a pair of horny forceps on the end of the abdomen. Some earwigs are wingless, but most have a pair of membranous hind wings and two leathery front wings.

Earwigs are most abundant in hot moist climates, but they are also found in temperate zones. During the day they hide under stones or tree bark, but they emerge at night to feed. A well-known species is the European earwig (Forficula auricularia'), which was introduced into the United States from Europe. It feeds on decaying matter and living plants and is sometimes an agricultural and household pest.

The common name "earwig" may be derived from superstition that the insects crawl into the ears of sleeping people.

Earwigs are classified as order Dermaptera, family Forficulidae.

Learn more about Earwigs

Unusual Behavior

The care with which the female looks after her eggs and young is unusual in insects of this type.

Do Earwigs bite?

Earwig bite

Since they have those long pinchers, it makes everyone wonder if an earwig will pinch or bite. And the answer is yes. When they feel threatened they will do anything in their power to protect themselves. Which is not different from many other insects and animals.

However, there is nothing to fear since their pinchers are not capable of breaking through our skin. So it would merely feel like a pinch and a very little one.

An Earwig in the Garden - A common Earwig on a Yellow Flower

Earwigs in Garden
Earwigs in Garden

Photo: (Earwig flower, by brockvicky), identified by ScottiesRock, is free of known copyright restrictions.

Earwigs in the Garden

Since earwigs eat other insects and plants, they do have a some benefit in the garden. They feed on aphids, mites, fleas and insect eggs.

However, they also love to eat some of our favorite garden plants, such as hostas, lettuce, dahlias and marigolds. They also feed on moss and algae.

There are some natural ways to help control earwigs in your garden without using any pesticides.

Earwig Control - How to get rid of Earwigs

Earwig Control

How to get rid of Earwigs

Earwig Control in the Garden or around your home

While earwigs can be considered in some ways a beneficial part of the garden, especially when they prey on other insects, they can become a nuisance because of their habit of hiding within leaves and feeding on soft plant tissues.

  • Since they prefer cool, moist places, a rolled up damp newspaper placed where earwig activity is suspected can be effective in collecting them. The newspaper can then either be discarded or shaken out.
  • Placing diatomaceous earth in key spots around the home, can be a long-term repellent.
  • Another method of removing earwigs is by utilizing their attraction to vegetable oil. Putting vegetable oil in a pie tin and burying it up to the rim of the tin is an effective way of capturing them. Another effective method of earwig control is to take steps to control the population before they hatch by removing rotting underbrush and spraying with commercially available insecticidal nematodes, which invade the earwigs in their nymphal stage and infect them with a lethal bacterium.

Earwig Control in your Home

Boric acid is a natural insecticide which does not harm humans or pets. This natural insecticide is used by applying a dusting near baseboards and cracks and other hard to reach places. It works when the earwig is forced to travel through the microscopic, razor sharp particles cut up their bodies and the earwig will die. Using Boric Acid is a safe and effective method of getting rid of earwigs in your home.

Control Earwigs with Sodium lights - Earwig Control

Get rid of Earwigs

Using Sodium lights will keep those earwigs away. Outdoor lights attract various insects, so if you are using outdoor lights, use a sodium light to reduce and eliminate many insects including earwigs.

Did you know?

Adult earwigs can float in water for up to 24 hours.

References

  • Pears Cyclopaedia, Twenty-Ninth Edition, 1926.
  • The New Internationl Illustrated Encyclopaedia, 1954.
  • Wikipedia. Retrieved February 24, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earwig

How much do you know about Earwigs?


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    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 4 years ago from Canada

      Yep I agree with Victel - I hate hate hate earwigs. They are slippery slithery and get into every crack or fold of garden lettuce. Yuck I cringe whenever I discover one as I wash the lettuce.

    • victoriahaneveer profile image

      victoriahaneveer 4 years ago

      Yuk yuk yuk! Hate them!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      They freak me out. Somehow, I am experiencing the pleasure of their existence in my two story home (& basement). By placing cups of soapy water just about everywhere in my home, I probably have killed about 100 nymphs. Not a pleasant experience at all.

    • CyberTech LM profile image

      CyberTech LM 5 years ago

      A bit of oil on top of standing water kills them. they get in to get a drink and can not get back out.

    • CyberTech LM profile image

      CyberTech LM 5 years ago

      ewwwww They are bad sometimes and I hate to even see them!!

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      They worry me. ... Nice Lens!