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PEST LIBRARY / EARWIGS

EARWIG INFORMATION & FACTS

Earwigs are a well-known insect, both from folklore and live encounters. The earwig is the feared insect reputed in superstition to crawl into the ears of sleeping persons for the sole purpose of burrowing into the brain or to lay its eggs. As hideous and terrifying as this sounds, there is no truth to this, or scientific backing.

Earwigs are outdoor insects usually found in damp areas, such as under mulch, dead leaves, logs, and piles of firewood, boards, stones and other debris or in rotted wood where they feed on moist, decaying plant material. Earwigs occasionally attack living plants, including vegetables, flowers and ornamental plants.

Earwigs are abundant in Ontario, especially from mid-June to October. Earwigs are relatively easy to identify by the prominent pincers or forceps on the end of the abdomen. These pincers are used as both offensive and defensive weapons. Though they may try to pinch if captured and handled, they do not harm people. The common earwig is about 1.5 to 2 cm long, and dark brown with a reddish head and pale yellow-brown legs. The pincers on female earwigs are straight, while male earwig pincers are more curved and caliper-like.

Earwigs enter houses and structures either by accident or when seeking shelter, especially in the summer and fall or during periods of prolonged dry weather. Earwigs inside the house do not cause any harm or destruction to people or structures. They are an annoyance and nuisance simply because of their presence.

If you have an earwig infestation or are worried about one, learn how to get rid of earwigs.

What an earwig looks like

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