Latin Name Order Dermaptera
Description Earwigs got their name from an (unsubstantiated) rumor that they burrow into people’s ears while they sleep. They can be scary thanks to an ominous-looking set of pincers behind their abdomens but in fact, they use them only for defense against other aggressive earwigs. There are over 20 species in the United states, most ranging from 5-25mm long. They’re slim and have a set of wings once they’re mature, and most species release a putrid scent when threatened. Earwigs primarily live on the ground although some species can and do fly.
What to Know Earwigs can be found throughout the U.S. as well as in Asia and Europe. Though they’re found in every state they’re most common in the Southeastern states and the southwest, particularly in New Mexico and Arizona. They put off a certain pheromone which is recognizable to other earwigs; they’re often found together in large clusters. They’re most active at night and prefer dark, damp areas like basements and caves.
They are attracted to light so they can often be found on porches and decks in the summer months when it’s warmest. Earwigs actually spend the spring and winter burrowed in the ground where they lay eggs and tend to their young. They only enter homes in search of food and warmth. If you do encounter an earwig, don’t touch it with your hands. Its pincers can pierce flesh so although the bugs aren’t poisonous their pinch can be uncomfortable.
Signs of Infestation Earwig infestations are the most likely to happen in the late spring or summer. The pests cluster together in dark, hidden places – think underneath patio cushions – and usually enter homes in rooms where they sense water. Bathrooms, laundry rooms, and damp basements are the most likely culprits. Earwigs don’t leave sawdust refuge or other signs of infestation (other than the occasional earthen hole near foundations, which can be quite small) so the best way to spot them is to catch them live.
Treatment and Prevention The best way to address an earwig infestation is to eliminate their hiding spots. Earwigs don’t respond well to on-site topical insecticide application so removing firewood piles, dead leaves, and gutter blockages from around the house provides the best chance for complete removal. Leaving a “dead zone” of about 10-feet around the base and entrances of your home can help keep pests at bay.
If you have continuous issues with earwigs, call in a professional. Several different solutions may need to be utilized at once to properly control an infestation in and around your home.
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