The European earwig is one of the common pests in homes and gardens. If present in large numbers, the earwig may damage flowers, fruits, and vegetables.
The adult earwig is about 12-19 mm (1/2" - 3/4") long and reddish brown in colour. Both males and females have a pair of large, curved forceps at the rear of the body. The adults have a pair of wings but seldom fly. The adults live for usually one year and die during the winter months.
In their search for food and shelter, earwigs crawl over the ground, readily entering houses. They forage at night and hide in dark secluded places during the day. They eat both plant and animal food.
Earwig Life Cycle
The female lays approximately 30 eggs twice per year and the eggs hatch in about three months. Infestations can very quickly number in the thousands.
The European earwig was introduced to this country from Europe and it has no natural enemies except man. Thus, this insect is rapidly growing in numbers.
Preparation Steps for Earwig Treatment
There are many things that the homeowner can do to help prepare their home for a successful earwig treatment :
1. Earwigs like cracks and crevices so items should be pulled away from the wall in these areas so that the technician can access the areas for treatment.
2. Remove leaf litter and other clutter from exterior perimeter of the building.
How do l recognize an earwig?
The most common earwig in Canada is the European earwig. It is easily identifiable by forceps-like appendages at the base of the abdomen. The flat, elongated body measures 12 to 19 mm (1/2" - 3/4"). Males are larger than females. Colour ranges from redish to dark brown.
Do earwigs cause damage?
Yes. Outdoors, earwigs are a real threat to plants, feeding on the roots of flowers, vegetables and shrubs. Indoors, they are more of a pest and will eventually die out.
When are earwigs most common?
During the warm summer months, particularly June, July and August.
When am I most likely to see earwigs?
Earwigs are nocturnal and are most active at night.
Where do you find earwigs?
Earwigs prefer a dark, moist habitat beneath stones, boards, sidewalks and debris. In the home they crawl under rugs, cushions, baseboards and dark, damp crevices, especially in basements.
Are earwigs hazardous to humans?
No. Their forceps may look dangerous, but will inflict nothing more than a slight pinch. These forceps are used for defense and courtship and will not harm humans.What are their breeding habits? Do they multiply quickly?
The female earwig lays broods of 300 eggs, twice a year, which hatch in about three months. Eggs are laid in small batches 5 to 8 cm (2" - 3") beneath the soil. The female guards the eggs and newly hatched young until the first molt, when they leave the nest. Since they multiply fairly quickly, an infestation can soon number in the thousands.
Do earwigs die off in cold months?
No. Earwigs become dormant during the winter, either as adults or eggs and sometimes tunnel as deep as 1.8 m (6 feet) below the soil surface to escape the cold. For this reason, if an earwig problem is left unchecked, they will return next season in increased numbers.
Can weather conditions affect the size of an earwig infestation?
Yes. Since they prefer dampness, a moist spring will encourage larger numbers of earwigs outdoors. For this reason, if the summer months are dry, earwigs will enter homes and buildings in search of moisture.
Can I do anything to prevent an earwig infestation on my property?
Yes. Since earwigs like moist, dark places, try to eliminate debris around your property, such as grass cuttings, mulch patches and wood heaps.
If I have an infestation of earwigs, what can be done to eliminate them?
Your local Abell Pest Control office has products and equipment especially formulated for the control of earwigs. Due to the nature of earwigs control can be difficult and an Abell professional should be consulted for thorough results.