Why do they call earwigs…..earwigs?? And how would you treat for silverfish in a 2,000 sg ft home? -edward, CA
The name game is fun, and for 31 years in this industry I replied with the standard answer on “ear” wigs, that this name comes from the long-ago belief that earwigs would enter the ears of sleeping people and lodge there. I suppose this still could possibly happen, as insects that roam at night do have to hide somewhere, and an article years ago reported that doctors in some inner city areas of Los Angeles report that about half of the “foreign” objects they remove from the ears of children turn out to be cockroaches. No reason an earwig should not crawl in too. However, according to some research done by a friend in the University of California system, the name earwig has a whole different origin.
It seems that the wings of the earwig, when expanded, are just about exactly the same shape as a human ear, and the thought was that the original name likely began as “ear-wing”, not earwig which it got shortened to, and which really does not make much sense. In addition, another thought is that the name can be traced to the old Saxon name of ear-wigea, which means a destroyer of grains and fruit, or “ears” of corn. Common names can drive us nuts.
Silverfish control, like so many household pests, really can begin outdoors, since this is where these insects came from initially. An inspection of the property surrounding the home will probably reveal a lot of contributing conditions that support populations of these insects on the property, and in particular right up against the foundation, making the trip to the inside a short one for the bugs. Piles of lumber, firewood, yard debris, old boxes or other items on the ground, all support and encourage silverfish and other insects, and should be removed if possible or at least restacked properly well away from the structure. As convenient as it is to place things against the house it also provides comfort and homes to insects and rodents. An effort at exclusion is also helpful, although you definitely will not close off all the opportunities for these flat insects to get inside. But, sealing up obvious holes, cracks, gaps, etc. will be of at least some help in keeping out unwanted critters.
Inside the home silverfish commonly inhabit attics, basements, crawlspaces, and wall voids. They rarely do any damage, but most people object to just having them around, running rapidly across floors and walls. You can look for evidence of their presence in the form of their fecal droppings, which look much like sprinklings of black pepper. I have seen attics where virtual layers of their droppings lay on the beams and insulation. Treatment of accessible voids can be done with fogging, generally pyrethrum, which will kill exposed insects. Or, you can dust with a desiccant dust like Tri-Die or Drione, which takes longer to affect the insects but which will last for many years to provide some preventive control. Inside wall voids you could treat with a residual insecticide by injecting with an Actisol or Patriot “void” injector, and for walls with insulation these devices really help push the fog past the insulations. For interior walls, where the void should be open, you can dribble in Niban insect granules. These are labeled for silverfish and I have gotten some good feedback on the effectiveness.
Silverfish are tough customers, because they can hide in such small areas, move through such narrow gaps, and run so quickly that they may not stand around on treatments along baseboards or ceiling junctions. Treatments with residual pyrethroids can be helpful around those places that you feel the silverfish likely are entering the structure, and a WP or microencapsulated formulation may be most effective. Cleanup is also important on the inside, as silverfish thrive on clutter. The garage is always a major resource for silverfish, and once again as much as can be done to remove unwanted wood and paper materials the lower the chances for these insects to hide there. Treating along likely silverfish pathways can be helpful.
Mr. Pest Control