Earwigs are common pests that are often found within homes all across North America. There are more than 20 species and they can grow to be quite large, though the juvenile insects can be a bit difficult to spot. In most cases, professional insect control is the best way to get rid of them.
What Are They?
Earwigs are insects that can grow to be about 25mm long as adults. They are long and thin in shape, and they have a pair of pincers on their tail ends, although these are used for defense and to spar with other earwigs rather than to pinch people. They are most active at night and often make their habitats outdoors, though it is possible to have indoor infestations. They are attracted to light and will often swarm patios and porches with bright lights at night, proving to be quite a nuisance. Though it is claimed that they burrow into people’s ears as they sleep, this is superstition and is not true.
Where Do They Live?
When they make their habitats outside, they will often nest in flowerbeds or in wood piles – anywhere that they can protect themselves from the elements. They eat plants and other insects, so they can cause problems in gardens by eating through leafy vegetation. However, if there is a change in the weather (particularly if it gets too cold) or if they are unable to find food outdoors, they will move inside to hunt for things to eat. Inside, they are often found in damp or wet areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas but can be found anywhere in the house.
Do They Pose a Threat?
Because of the pincers on their tails, many people believe that earwigs can hurt them. Fortunately, though, while they may use those pincers to grab a finger or a piece of clothing if agitated, they are not dangerous, they are not aggressive, and they have no venom. In the event that an earwig pinch breaks the skin, a thorough cleansing and an application of antibiotic ointment is all that is necessary. Despite common beliefs, earwigs cannot burrow into the brain while an individual is asleep and lay eggs.
How to Get Rid of Them
The good news is that earwigs are not social creatures and therefore will not nest in large colonies inside homes unless the conditions are just right (in a damp, regularly flooded basement, for example). In most cases, they infest outdoor areas close to the home. The best way to prevent these infestations is to ensure that downspouts are directing rainwater away from the home’s foundation and that wood piles are moved away from the home, as well. For serious problems, it is best to contact an exterminator who can use a variety of indoor and outdoor pesticides to eliminate them.
Although earwigs do not pose an immediate threat to humans or even pets, their presence can be problematic. Individuals who spot them in their homes should contact a professional insect control expert to properly remove them.