Isolated Earwig

Earwigs are actually best known for the myth that they will nest in people’s ears at night. This is actually unfound and although they are small enough to fit, it has yet to be proven true. They are easily distinguished from most insects because of their pincers at the ends of their bodies.

Earwigs can easily be identified by their pair of pincers at the bottom tips of their abdomens. The pincers on the male species are unequal in length whereas the pincers of female earwigs are uniformed. Also, the appendages that look like forceps on the male earwigs have a distinct curve shape whereas the ones on female earwigs are straightened. They don’t harm humans, however, if they are handled without care, they may pinch with their forceps. The forceps are mainly used to protect their nest and to capture prey. They are flat in shape and slender creatures which allows them to easily crawl under tight cracks. They grow to be about 1/2 an inch to an inch long. There are larger and less common earwigs that may even grow past 2 inches. They range in color from a light tan (immature earwigs) to a rich reddish brown color to almost black. They have long antennae with at least 10 segments which increases as they molt. Most adult earwigs have wings (some species are wingless) and although they have wings and are capable of flight, they are rarely seen flying around.

Biology and Life Cycle
Earwigs undergo gradual metamorphosis: egg, nymph, adult. They grow by molting and nymphs look very similar to mature earwigs with some minor physical differences.  The stages between molts are called instars. A female earwig will lay about 20-50 eggs that are pearly or creamy in color. The young earwig will emerge from its egg after about 7-10 days. Adult female earwigs are defensive mothers that will protect the young earwig until their first molt.  After about 6 instars, they will fully develop into adult earwigs.

Habitat & Behavior
Earwigs are attracted to high moisture sources and cool places and that may be why they migrate indoors to find a cool and moist hiding place. During the day, they will hide under mulch, pine straw, leaf litter, under the cracks of sidewalks, and stones. Earwigs can even dig as deep as 6 feet during the winter season so that they can avoid freezing temperatures.

Generally, earwigs are nocturnal insects that come out at night to forage for food. They are also attracted light and so they may be seen in the mass under strong lights. Depending on the species, they may be scavengers that feed on decomposing animals or other matter. Some species are omnivorous, feeding on arthropods and fruits. And most species are herbivorous insects that just feed on vegetation and leafy matter.  When they are indoors, they will feed on house plants or left out food that is sweet or greasy.

Other than being a nuisance and having a frightful physical appearance, Earwigs typically do not cause that much damage. However, in mass numbers, they may become unwanted pests in agricultural fields or greenhouses where they may feed on such things as potatoes, beans, lettuce, cauliflower or etc. They also feed on flowers like dahlias, sunflowers and roses and may also be seen eating fruits like peaches, plums, and etc.

Earwig Pest Control

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Date: Friday, 11. February 2011 11:32
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