All About Earwigs from Work at Home Grandma
The Earwig Story
About ten years ago we removed our warped and damaged deck located off our kitchen and built a new one onto to our house. In was during the month of July and the temperature was easily in the 90’s the majority of the time. I was enjoying a cool vacation in Duluth when my daughter called in a panic because our kitchen was suddenly infested with long black bugs that appeared out of nowhere arriving at night and finding a comfortable resting spot on our countertops or sink.
Needless to say, I was perplexed as we’d never had any bugs in the house, not even ants. The deck that was removed was 30 years old and definitely had seen its better days. When I arrived home I found the grotesque black bugs were still inhabiting my kitchen and could even be found ingratiating themselves into other parts of my home including the bedroom. Any soiled clothing or damp towel left on the floor was a king’s mansion to the bugs.
After doing some research on them I discovered the nasty little bugs were called Earwigs. Seems they had been nesting underneath my old porch loving the damp dirt and decaying leaves providing them adequate quarters. We had disturbed their habitat and now they had found new residence in my humble abode.
I quickly set about to discover their weakness and determine a way to rid our home of the Earwig. I recall asking my brother if he had ever been frequented by such a pest. As he does a lot of building and gardening, he was very familiar with the Earwig which his children referred to as “pinchers”. Yes indeed they do pinch and it hurts. Imagine sliding your leg into a pair of trousers and receiving a stinging bite on your thigh. You knew immediately you had picked up an Earwig.
My brother gave me the scoop on them. He said it didn’t matter that we killed them when they arrived for a visit. We needed to destroy them at their source. He said spraying the foundation around the house close to soil was the ticket for destroying their living area.
Here are some facts and cure alls for the Earwig that might give you guidance should you find yourself having house guests.
Size / Color:
The Earwig ranges in size from 0.5 to 1.25 inches and is black in color. Its characteristic appendages are pinchers that do exactly that - big time.
They are nocturnal and love wet or damp soil, leaves, rotten boards, wood chips and debris. Along with loving all the debris, they eat other insects but also will eat thin leafed plants. If you see your plants looking like Swiss cheese then you may have a family of Earwigs nesting close at hand.
How to kill them
First of all, it’s important that you treat the exterior of the home, not the interior. Be careful using strong insecticides that may harm other helpful insects (I say that with a grain of salt as I have never found an insect whose help I ever needed)
Natural methods include placing oil in tuna cans to draw the bugs and they will drown in the liquid. Vinegar, Boric acid and soapy water with ammonia are also great remedies.
Since that fateful summer, we have seen very few Earwigs around our yard and none in our home. Every year in July we sprayed and checked for them until they were found no more. My deck is looking like it could stand to be replaced again but I’ll think twice before taking a chance of disturbing someone’s home.
A dear friend of mine, now deceased, wrote a poem that did make me laugh even though it was about our dear friend the Earwig. I’ve attached it below as I am sure you’d all like to hear about the life of a Minnesota Earwig.
IMA AND ITSA EARWIG’S ADVENTURES
Hello, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Ima Earwig from the Maas Clan. For those of you who aren’t familiar with what an earwig is, I am a dark and slender nocturnal insect having horny pincers at the rear of my body that can rise up like a scorpion’s.
I want to tell you a little about my life. One day Mrs. Maas found me in her home as an unwanted guest. She put me in a container for safekeeping. Or, so I thought. However, she called this man to come to her home and analyze who I was, where I came from, and what I was about to do by visiting her home.
After their conversation she decided to get rid of me and finally I was flushed out of her home down the drain. Down, down, down I went until I found myself floating on a nice soft sponge from Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul. This is a very comfortable way to travel down the River.
What beautiful weather we are having this spring. Along my daily journey down the River I met up with Itsa Earwig from the Yonson Clan. We now have become friends and are enjoying our time together. As we cruise on our sponge down the River towards New Orleans, enjoying the journey, there are many events that come into our lives. I’d like to share a few with you.
Itsa said,”I would like to get the St. Paul Paper.” When I asked her why she wanted that particular paper, she said it was because it tasted better. “Oh! Why is that?” I questioned. She admitted it was because they use soybeans to make the ink. “Also when paper is a little damp it tastes much better,” she added.
What a nice warm night we are having. There is a nice breeze as we are leaving St. Paul. When we passed the Metropolitan Sewerage Disposal Plant, I noticed that they had not disposed anything into the River today. I thought to myself, “I suppose all the people are busy with their own lives and aren’t thinking about our food supply”. Then I discussed my concerns with Itsa: unless the farmers along our route to Hastings have been dumping something, we will have to be eating the bad cardboard we brought along with us in case of food emergencies. Itsa said she would be willing to share with me a little of the St. Paul Paper that she had left before we needed to consume the cardboard. It is always good to have a back up when traveling. We chatted and wondered between ourselves what the next nights would bring as we headed towards Hastings.
As Itsa and I travel down the fast moving River past Hastings, we quickly arrive at Red Wing where a very busy pottery factory is located. They dump a lot of broken and scrap pottery into the River at this point. However, we can’t linger long for we need to get back on our journey south. The evening was unusually quiet when we arrived at beautiful Lake Pepin.
The Mississippi River slows down as it enters Lake Pepin. Because there is no longer a sharp river current to move our little sponge, Itsa and I were relaxing and enjoying the trip. When all of a sudden seemingly out of nowhere we were almost run over by water skiers, racing boats, pontoons, Jet skis, speedboats, houseboats, cruisers, and any type of water craft one can imagine. Wow! We were overwhelmed. What fun the humans were having with their toys on the lake this evening. We became concerned about our little sponge staying afloat for our trip further down the River.
Wonder of wonders; we did get through the Lake on our little sponge raft. We managed to escape all the boat traffic plus swimmers for four days. There certainly were a lot of people out enjoying the summer weather on the Lake. We had a great time watching how people spend their leisure time.
Finally on the 5th evening of our travels, we arrived at the discharge place of Lake Pepin. Leaving the Lake behind, we now were planning to head south again and continue down the River towards our final goal of New Orleans. However, this was not to be in the future of Itsa and myself.
For, as we were about to start the next leg of our journey, a pair of lovers in a beautiful canoe silently came across our path and the canoe hit our sponge spilling us into the water. At that particular point in time a large school of walleye was feeding on anything eatable in the water, and we met our doom.
It is a mystery to us that we will never know what did lie ahead in St. Louis at the convergence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Since Mark Twain traveled the same Rivers as we did, we might have relived some of his wonderful adventures of years gone by.
Probably the largest and greatest thing we missed was visiting New Orleans and arriving at the ocean. After all, that was our final destination. We also missed the big late summer convention of Earwigs that was assembling from all over the country in New Orleans. What an event that would have been. We can only dream now of what wonderful times we would have enjoyed.
Goodbye and thank you for listening to my adventures.