PEST LIBRARY / EARWIGS
Earwigs are a well-known insect, from folk lore if not from actual experience. The earwig is the insect reputed in superstition to purposefully crawl into the ears of sleeping persons for the purpose of burrowing into the brain to lay eggs. Of course, there is no truth to these tales, though earwigs, like moths, beetles, cockroaches, ants and flies may wander into our ear canals by accident.
Earwigs are abundant in Ontario. Earwigs are relatively easy to identify by the prominent pincers or forceps on the end of the abdomen. On females the pincers are fairly straight, while male pincers are more curved and caliper-like. 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 5/8 inch long and dark brown with a reddish head and pale yellow-brown legs.
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. They 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. They are an annoyance or nuisance because of their presence. If disturbed, earwigs may produce a noticeable foul odor. Depending on the season earwig numbers can be astonishing.
Earwigs found inside the house can be swept or picked up and discarded. Indoor crack and crevice treatments, at points of entry, and along baseboards, window sills and door thresholds provide benefit.
If possible reduce outdoor lighting that attracts earwigs around doors and windows. Reduce attractiveness of the landscape and breeding/hiding sites. Earwigs need and are very attracted to moisture. Eliminate damp, moist conditions near the house such as around faucets and air-conditioning units and irrigation. Channel water from rain gutters and spouts away from the house foundation. Consider removing landscape mulch (wood chips, gravel, etc.) from against the house. Finally, prevent entry by using caulking compound, putty and weather stripping around doors, windows, pipes and other entry sites, especially at the ground level.
Exterior applications can be utilized around the house to stop or limit earwigs from getting indoors. Environmental pest control offers excellent treatments and safe solutions in treating structures for earwig problems. Our typical earwig season in Ontario usually begins around mid June and continues to October.
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