Over the years as a bug man you get pretty good at figuring out what bug a customer is trying to describe just from a few tell tale words. Of course there is the other side to this where they say. “It’s black and has wings and I think it has teeth,what is it?” Then maybe even the best of us need a little more information.
The earwig is one that is almost always described as having ‘pinchers’. Technically it’s ‘pincers’ but nobody really calls them that. Some will say they are on the front and others will tell you they are the size of a pair of pliers but pinchers none the less is always a key word that leads me to an answer for my client.
The pinchers on an Earwig are almost completely harmless, I say almost because they can arch their backs and give you a wee tiny prick. So on the scale of harmless they are about a 0.001.
Actually the pinchers are used in their little world for defense, capturing and holding the prey that they catch so they can eat them and it’s also how you can tell the boys from the girls. For the most part Earwigs eat just a little of everything including plant leaves, other insects, dog food, garbage or organic material. Usually the leaf damage they do is very little and you wouldn’t notice much if any of your pets food missing if it weren’t for the occasional Earwig who gets trapped in the slippery bowl.
Preferring to feed at night this insect would rather be left alone but their high need for moisture can bring them into our homes from time to time. There are occasions where the ‘nuisance’ becomes a full fledged invasion and that is about the only time you really need to consider some type of control method.
I’m often asked this question and I see it on forums and comment sections of web sites all the time. The biggest reasons that Earwigs are entering your home are for food and for moisture. Eliminate those two and you’ll be left with only the few who just wander in by chance. Now you might be saying, “I don’t live in a moist house, why would they come in my home?” The answer is simply that they don’t know your home is not some Mecca for a nice moist bed of leafy green plants they can eat. They just know that outside it may be to dry and they’ve got to go on the move to find what they need. Or sometimes the sprinkler head may be pointed towards your home and the excess moisture in your mulch allows them to build up in large numbers and as they wander they find a crack or slip in under the door thinking they’ll find much of the same environment inside. Regardless the common denominator is the moisture and they are always in search of it. Food is the other reason and there is not much you can do about plant leaves or organic material. You can however try to limit leaving pet food just outside the door or inside next to the sliders. They will find it every time and once they have their fill it’s off to your bedroom to hopefully catch the Tonight show with Conan O’Brien.(He’s quite good) There are other helpful hints in this category that you can read up on that will help a great deal. Most often a simple crack and crevice treatment and a little baiting outside will be all that’s required from your pest control professional and the problem should subside. One other home remedy that I hear works quite well is to dampen some newspapers and roll it up. Place the paper just outside where you think you have Earwigs and they will crawl into the papers seeking moisture and die. I’m not sure if it’s the ink that kills them or the story about the economy on page two but according to some old timers I know, they say it works.
Whenever I see an Earwig in my home I almost always try to scoop him (or her) up and put them back outside. The benefits of having them far out weigh the need for getting out my 300 feet of hose and blasting the exterior of my house with 30 gallons of insecticide. I used to pick them up with my fingers but then I got pinched a few times so now I use a dust pan or piece of paper. I guess you might say I have a low pain tolerance.