Can earwigs cause infestations?

Can earwigs cause infestations?

As I observed the small, dark creature moving across the windowsill, I could not help but be reminded of the earwig's ominous reputation. During the medieval times, tales abounded of these small creatures crawling into people's ears, burrowing into their brains, and causing madness or even death. This belief, I suspect, may have been fueled by the earwig's distinctive pincers. In more recent times, the earwig has been associated with bad luck and misfortune. Some would have you believe that if an earwig were to crawl over your hand, you would be cursed with ill fate. In other cultures, the earwig is even thought to be an omen of death or impending doom.

But in truth, these tales are utter nonsense. An earwig, also called an earwig bug, is simply another insect driven by its instincts to seek food and shelter. These insects should never be considered dangerous or foreboding, as they are non-aggressive, their soft pinchers are not even strong enough to puncture one’s skin and they cannot actually bite (as they are toothless). Yet, at the same time, I would not desire this minute insect, with its intimidating-looking pinchers and elongated, flattened body, to become a common sight in my home.

What are signs that I have earwigs in my home?

Earwigs prefer to live and feed outside, as the great outdoors provides the ideal environment—damp, cool and with perfect daytime hiding locations (the soil)—that these pincher bugs prefer. They may even be beneficial for your garden. However, they can (and will) get get into your home on occasion. Here  are a few signs that may indicate the presence of earwigs in or around your home. 

Note: Because earwigs are nocturnal, you may not see them during the day; this makes it ever more important to search out telltale signs of their activity in your home.

Plant damage

Earwigs are known to feed on plants, both living and dead. They are omnivorous insects and will eat a wide range of materials, including plant matter. They can cause damage to plants by feeding on leaves, flowers and other parts of the plant. In some cases, they can also chew through stems and cause more severe damage. Earwigs, though, are generally not considered major plant pests and their feeding damage is usually minor.

Shed skins

Earwigs shed their skins, or molt, several times as they grow from nymphs (baby earwigs) to adults. While they may not be the most glamorous of indicators, they can indeed be a visible sign of an earwig invasion. If you notice a significant amount of shed skins, it could be a good indication that you have some unwelcome houseguests.

The shed skins, also known as exuviae, are pale, translucent and papery in texture. The skins typically have a segmented appearance and will range in size, depending on the life stage of the earwig. Shed skins of newly hatched earwigs will be very small, typically measuring less than one-eighth inch in length. As they mature, the shed skins will become larger and more substantial. The molted skin of an adult earwig can measure up to one-half inch in length.

Excrement

Earwigs do not produce large amounts of excrement; however, like many insects, earwigs do produce waste, and in areas where they are present in large numbers, some small amounts of their excrement may be visible. The excrement of earwigs is generally small, dark, cylindrical, and can be found near areas where the insects have been feeding or congregating. It may have a slightly shiny appearance due to the presence of undigested plant material.

Where would these pincher bugs be in my house? 

Allow me to share with you, my dear friend, five places where you might discover earwigs in your home.

  1. Basements: Earwigs are drawn to dark and moist environments, making basements an ideal spot for them. Be sure to check around areas with water damage, such as leaky pipes or damp walls.
  2. Bathrooms: With a lot of moisture in the air, bathrooms are another likely area for earwigs to gather. Check around drains, under sinks and near any leaky faucets.
  3. Kitchens: Like bathrooms, kitchens also provide a lot of moisture and food sources for earwigs. Keep an eye out for them around water sources, such as sinks and dishwashers, and near any open containers of food.
  4. Potted plants: Earwigs are known to hide in soil and under the leaves of plants, making potted plants a potential home for them.
  5. Cluttered areas: Earwigs are also known to stow away in cluttered areas, such as piles of laundry or stacks of paper, which is likely due to the availability of hiding places and the potential for moisture accumulation (that these locations provide).

In these locations, earwigs will gravitate towards spaces that are tight and dark, such as cracks and crevices. Because they are nocturnal, they will come out from these hiding spots during the night.

Can earwigs cause infestations?

The ultimate question remains. Now you know what signs to look for—for a fierce congregation of earwigs in your home—and where they may be hiding, but what is the actual likelihood of a full-blown earwig infestation?

In truth, the likelihood is small. Few folks ever encounter an indoor earwig infestation of quantifiable proportions, primarily because earwigs prefer the outdoors. With that said, it is still wise to remain vigilant, as a few earwigs creeping along your bathroom wall can (and will) feel like a major invasion.

Moreover, because earwigs reproduce at an alarming rate, with a mama earwig laying up to 50 eggs at a time, eggs that will hatch in seven days’ time and become baby earwigs, it’s important to make sure that you’re doing all that you can to keep these egg-laying, small-headed, winged pincher bugs away from your home, for good. Why be cause for an unnecessary increase in insect activity in you home?

How do I get rid of earwigs in my home? 

Getting rid of earwigs (unlike pantry moths or cockroaches) in all stages - baby/nymph, larvae and adult - is easy and requires little excursion. By simply purchasing a dehumidifier, puffing diatomaceous earth around the perimeter of your basement and spraying a bit of Six Feet Under along the baseboards in your kitchen, you can well be on your way to a happy earwig-free abode.

There are several methods you can use to get rid of earwigs:

Reduce moisture: Earwigs are attracted to moist environments, so reduce the moisture in and around your home by (1) fixing leaks (2) using a dehumidifier and (3) ensuring proper ventilation.

Remove hiding places: Many insects (and arachnids), including silverfish, bed bugs and ants, like to hide in your home. Earwigs prefer dark, cluttered areas, such as piles of laundry, stacks of paper or magazines, cardboard boxes and cluttered closets. Clean up these areas and keep your house tidy.

Apply an insect powder: Using the Insect Buster, puff diatomaceous earth or another insect powder around the perimeter of your basement, kitchen and bathroom. You may also want to distribute a thin line of the powder outside, around the perimeter of your home. As long as it remains dry and isn’t swept away, most insect powders will remain active, and will dehydrate and kill insects. Use the included brass extension rod to get into those hard-to-reach cracks and crevices.

Apply Six Feet Under: This non-toxic, powerfully potent, all natural insect spray is safe for use in your home and around your family and pets. There are no fumes, no dangerous pesticides, no harsh chemicals, no pyrethrins, no pyrethroids and no permethrin, so you can protect your home from destructive insects while keeping your family safe. The clove, cinnamon and soybean oil formula will eliminate ants, pantry moths, clothes moths, flies, fruit flies, mosquitoes, roaches, ticks, fleas, mites, bed bugs, earwigs, silverfish and more.

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