What Are Earwigs? Here’s Everything Homeowner’s Should Know
The problem with insects is even the helpful ones don’t look the part. It’s hard to trust that they aren’t going to cause some kind of damage, especially when they start appearing in the dozens to hundreds.
That doesn’t apply to earwigs. What are earwigs? They are an omnivorous, flat, ugly creature with some nasty looking pincers on their hind end.
While not overly dangerous to humans, they are a nuisance to some structures. Even a nuisance insect acts as part of bigger problems. While not the main perpetrators, invasive insects cost farmers $70 billion globally.
What are Earwigs?
What is commonly called an earwig is any of a 1,000 species of an insect comprised of a flat three-section body with pincers on their abdomen. Preferring the dark, they mostly act nocturnally.
Of that 1,000 species, only 22 exist natively in the United States. This black bug with pincers on head range in size from about a quarter-inch to just over an inch long. They have wings but their body construction leaves them less than aerodynamic.
As a nuisance pest, they aren’t a direct threat but removing them, if found in large numbers, adds to a clean residential environment.
Why are they called Earwigs?
Where does the name come from?
An early scientific text, or naturalist text as it was then known, from 1601 the Naturalis Historia names the insect known today as the earwig.
Within this book, the insect is described as a vermin that enters the ear. From there it was a common myth that they not only idd but laid eggs or burrowed into the brain from that vantage point.
Taxonomy wasn’t big until the mid 19th century and many young insects look more similar. The few insects that do lay eggs in or on human skin arent’ capable of getting into the brain.
It only takes someone hearing from a friend of a friend to solidify such thoughts, though.
Where do Earwigs live?
Habitat and Food
Earwigs live in most areas where decay offers them food and the damp regulates their body temperatures.
As omnivores, earwigs eat a varied diet. This includes other insects, flowers, molds, and grease. Anything small enough for them to nibble or suck up is food.
Damp also protects their eggs. A dark area under a rock, a basement, or a hole in the wall all provide excellent habitats for earwigs.
Earwigs live as scavengers and opportunists. They show up after other pests have done some forward infiltration.
In gardens, they appear after caterpillars, squash bugs, and aphids have broken down and killed plants.
In houses, carpenter ants and termites leave holes that earwigs use to get inside and hunker down to start a brood.
Are Earwigs dangerous?
Despite the myth, earwigs don’t seek out ears. They also don’t directly attack and have no venom. They use their pincers in defense and will react if picked up or stepped on in the night.
Their diet of rotting things means their presence is usually after other damage. However, if you are starting a composting project, be careful to avoid placing it too near the house.
If you are asking, “What are earwigs?” you probably noticed some around.
In small numbers, they need to be swept up and tossed out. If you see a lot of them it’s best to have them removed and to check for more insidious pests that they act as a warning for.
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