No one wants to spot an earwig in their home. Discover what to do about these insects and gain some understanding of their biology.
Biology of Earwigs
Earwigs have short wings and are beetle-like in appearance. They measure between a half inch and a full inch long and tend to move quickly. In most cases, their abdomen will end with something known as cerci. These appear to be pincers or forceps and they may or may not be present in earwigs. In the case of earwigs that have wings, they will be folded underneath the forewings. It is incredibly rare for earwigs to fly. Earwigs have a strong preference for damp environments, which is why they are most commonly found by sinks and in bathrooms. You may also find them underneath baseboards, under piles with newspapers or magazines, by pet food dishes, inside waste bins, and in shady openings or cracks. The preferred diet of earwigs includes ripe fruit, other insects, garbage, and plants. Female adult earwigs will lay 20 to 90 eggs, doing so in burrows that are several inches underneath the soil. After around seven days, these eggs will hatch and become nymphs. Other experts indicate that the earwig eggs are placed in the ground during the fall. They hibernate during the winter, during which time the males die off. The young will then emerge and develop in the spring and summer. There is a total of six nymph stages before earwigs reach adulthood. The typical life cycle of an earwig will be around 56 days.
Why Earwigs Are Considered Pests
These insects will not transmit diseases, at least there is no evidence of them doing so. They also do not directly harm humans in any other way. In fact, their pincers cannot even break human skin. Earwigs do not cause direct damage to the home, but their presence alone tends to make them qualify as pests. Their diet can make some mess in the home and the simple fact that earwigs are present inside is not something most homeowners want to see. Additionally, if you crush earwigs to kill them, they will typically emit a liquid that smells very foul. That smell alone would be enough to qualify earwigs as pests. If you have an outdoor garden that you care about or plants inside your home, then earwigs will have even more qualifications as a pest. This comes from the fact that they are likely to nibble on your plants, including the roots and leaves. In the case of serious feeding, the damage can ruin your prized plants.
Methods for Controlling Earwigs
It can be incredibly challenging to eliminate earwigs since they bread in hard-to-reach areas, such as underneath foundations or in leaf litter. Adults are also able to fit into tiny cracks and move into buildings via those cracks. As such, earwigs are very challenging to reach. You cannot effectively use baits to control earwigs since these insects prefer to feed on decaying vegetation. This means that bait is unlikely to appeal to the earwigs. A good alternative is to use sticky traps. That method will be able to catch earwigs that pass by. At the same time, it will give you an idea of the population density of the insects as well as confirmation as to which areas of your home they are in. For the best results with traps, place them at the floor level and in moist areas. Make sure you swap out the traps for fresh ones since they must remain sticky to successfully catch earwigs. Insecticides can be used to control earwigs to some extent, but there are a few caveats with this method. You can apply them both inside or outside as a perimeter spray and will likely be successful in killing the earwigs. Keep in mind, however, that most insecticides will not kill the earwigs immediately, so you will likely find dead earwigs inside instead of living ones. If dead earwigs accumulate, they can become a food source that attracts other pests, including carpet beetles. This means that if you do use an insecticide to kill earwigs, you must ensure you stay on top of finding and cleaning up the dead insects.
DIY Tips for How to Get Rid of Earwigs
You can work to control earwigs by limiting the moisture in your home since these insects like wet environments. Focus these efforts on the area by and under your foundation. This involves ensuring water drains away from your home’s foundation. It also includes storing compost, wood, and leaves away from your building. You can also use their preference for dampness to catch them. If you suspect you have earwigs in small numbers, then try just rolling up a damp magazine or newspaper. Place it strategically and the earwigs should be attracted to the paper, getting inside. You can then either shake the paper out somewhere outside or just toss the entire thing.
Another method for trapping earwigs involving items you already have at home uses vegetable oil, which these insects like. Just take a pie tin and bury it in the garden up to its rim. Then, fill the interior of the tin using vegetable oil. As with any other insect that you are dealing with, get rid of and keep earwigs out by making sure there are no gaps or cracks that they can use to get inside. Simply ensuring that your door sweeps fit snuggly can be enough to dramatically reduce the number of earwigs. Similarly, ensure there are no other gaps around your doors. Check the foundation points for cracks and ensure the window screens are all snug. Those dealing with earwigs in the garden will find their own set of specific instructions. You could, for example, try spreading petroleum jelly by the plant stems as earwigs will not be willing to crawl over this substance. Or you can lay garden hose or bamboo in one-foot sections between plant beds, with these sections serving as traps that you can dump the earwigs out of.
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