Earwigs – What You Need to Know

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If you’ve ever moved around boxes in the basement, lifted up a landscaping stone around your home, or emptied out a flower pot, you’ve probably seen an earwig wiggling away from you in a panic. If you’re like most people, you’ve probably recoiled at the sight of them, as well, because these little guys have an appearance that makes people’s skin crawl.

Other than simply looking scary, what does an infestation of earwigs mean to you and your home? Don’t worry – the Blue Sky team is here to help you out. Read on for more must-know information about these creepy-crawly pests.

Why “Earwig?”

The name “earwig” probably derived from the old wife’s tale that they like to burrow into people’s ear canals and lay their eggs, causing great pain, madness or even death. Fortunately, this just isn’t true!

While earwigs do prefer dark, small and enclosed spaces, there’s never been a case of death by earwig. While they may pinch if handled, they are not dangerous or poisonous, and  do not have an affinity for crawling into ear canals to nest.

What do they look like?

Earwigs make up the insect order Dermaptera, and there are nearly 2,000 species found in the Americas, Eurasia, Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Their distinguishing characteristics include:

  • An elongated, flattened body
  • Two pairs of wings
  • Cerci on the back of the abdomen that are long and pincer-shaped

Earwigs are perfectly adapted to a lifestyle of crawling into tight spaces, and though they have wings, they hardly ever use them. Depending on the species, earwigs can be extremely small up to a couple of inches long.

What damage can they cause?

Earwigs aren’t picky when it comes to diet. They can eat a wide variety of organic material, including plants, other insects, fruits and vegetables, and even trash. Despite their voracious appetites, they very rarely invade the food products you have in your cupboards or damage the structure of your home.

Even though earwigs eat plants, there is some debate about whether they are harmful or beneficial to crops and gardens. While they do eat plant material, they also feed on harmful pests. There have been reports of crop damage from earwigs, especially in flowers, corn and peaches.

Earwigs do not transmit diseases to humans or other animals. Though they can use their cerci to pinch, the pinches are usually very minor and cause little discomfort, and they do not “sting.”

Even though they are fairly innocuous, no one likes to see a nest of squirmy, six-legged invaders in their home.

Where do they live?

The good news is that earwigs probably won’t like the parts of your home that you spend the most time in. Since they prefer small, damp, dark spaces, you are more likely to find them hiding out in a basement, garage or shed than in your bedroom or living room. They are usually most active at night.

Female earwigs lay their eggs in secure, humid and concealed spaces, such as under a rock or along the foundation of a building. When earwigs enter your home, they will probably try to hide under things that aren’t moved often and provide secure shelter.

While they may come inside your home, earwigs need abundant moisture to complete their life cycle. Look for them in areas of your home that get plenty of moisture – flower pots, along the foundation of your home, in landscaping, around pool areas, or even in your shower drain! Here in many people tend to water their landscaping often or have a swimming pool. That moisture combined with warm desert temperatures creates ideal living conditions for the earwig, and their numbers have increased in well-irrigated parts of Arizona. Earwigs are some of the deepest nesters of all the common Arizona pests.

How can I prevent them?

There are many things you can do to reduce the presence of earwigs – and other pests – around your home.

  • Keep your landscape looking clean, and get rid of any piles of yard waste that might be lying around.
  • Avoid over-watering lawns and flower beds
  • Seal small cracks around the foundation of your home, and seal your doors and windows

 

If you’ve seen lots of earwigs in or around your home, you can be assured they are probably not causing any damage. However, you may still want to have us treat your home for earwigs so you don’t have to live in fear when you’re moving furniture, gardening or cleaning! Pest control for earwigs can be effective when it’s applied to their nesting areas. Blue Sky uses a truck-mounted, gas-powered power sprayer to treat for earwigs. The power sprayer allows us to penetrate deep to where they nest. Contact us to find out more about our thorough earwig treatment process, and rest easy knowing you won’t have any unwanted earwig roommates in your home.

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