The earwig gets its name from an old European superstition that these insects can crawl into your ear and lay eggs in your brain. Luckily, this myth is completely untrue. Earwigs, even with their scary-looking tail pincers, are relatively harmless to people. There are 22 species of earwigs in the United States, but the most common are the European earwig, the ring-legged earwig and the striped or riparian earwig. The European earwig can be found throughout the United States while the Ring-legged and Riparian (also known as Striped or Shore earwig) are most common in the southern and southwestern states.
Earwig pincers are used for defense, capturing prey, and folding or unfolding wings.
Adults may give you a light pinch if they are picked up and handled.
Earwigs prefer to hide in cool, damp spaces. During the day, these insects will take shelter under stones, logs, mulch and other debris. Earwigs are active at night and are busy searching for food. Earwigs are attracted to light so you may see them near light sources trying to make a meal out of the other insects attracted to the light.
Some earwigs, like the European earwig, will prey on other insects. Most earwigs eat flower petals, moss, and soft fruits and vegetables.
From late winter into early spring, female earwigs will lay eggs in underground burrows. The female will lay between 20 to 50 eggs and will care for her offspring until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Earwigs go through a gradual metamorphosis with four to five nymphal stages. These insects can move very fast on the ground, but those earwig species with wings are poor fliers. If threatened or squished, earwigs will release a rancid-smelling yellowish-brown liquid.
Types of Earwigs
European Earwig Identification
The European earwig ranges between 1⁄2 to 3⁄4-inch long with a reddish-brown body, a reddish head, and fan-shaped wings.
Ring-legged Earwig Identification
The Ring-legged earwig ranges from 1⁄2 to 3⁄5-inch long, is black and yellowish with white bands around its legs joints and doesn’t have wings.
Riparian Earwig Identification
The Riparian earwig is 3⁄4 to 1-inch long and varies in color from light to dark brown and reddish brown with markings.
Earwigs In The Home & The Apartment
Earwigs will usually only enter your home if outside conditions are unfavorable. If it is too dry and hot outside these pests will seek shelter in crawl spaces, greenhouses, door or window frames, and other dark cracks and crevices with excess moisture. Earwigs can also be accidentally brought into the home when you carry in your laundry that was drying outside, firewood or cut flowers. Once inside, earwigs will eat houseplants and any sweet or greasy foods they find.
Earwigs do not infest homes in large numbers. You will probably notice just a few scurrying about.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get rid of an earwig infestation?
Earwig problems can be controlled by reducing areas with excess moisture in and around your home. Check for leaky faucets and air conditioning units. Make sure water coming from the roof and gutters travels away from the house. Seal cracks, crevices and other entry points.
Treatment for earwigs includes sucking them up with a vacuum, trapping, and applying material that will eliminate these insects.
Benefits of Professional Earwig Pest Control
A pest management professional has the education, equipment and skills necessary to effectively address an earwig problem. Finding and treating the earwigs can be challenging, especially if they are spread throughout your yard. A pest management professional provides their expertise to identify the pest problem and determine the best possible solution to resolve the earwig infestation.