Latin: Order Dermapertera
Shaded Garden areas and moist soil. In come cases Kitchens, Bathrooms and Laundry Spaces
What are Earwigs?
Earwigs are the most readily recognized insect pests in home gardens. They are known to damage seedling vegetables, annual flowers, maturing soft fruit and corn silks. Although they do cause some problems, they are known to also play a beneficial role in the landscape and are important predators to aphids. Earwigs are most likely to show up in your garden where they are most unwelcome. Once you have an earwig infestation, their numbers can grow out of control and cause significant plant damage. The key to getting rid of earwigs, and preventing them from returning, is to wipe out all the areas to which they would be attracted
They are several species, but the most common one found in gardens of California is the European Earwig (Forficula auricularia). The striped earwig (Labidura riparia) is also another species you might come across in Southern California. It is attracted to light and has a very disagreeable odor if crushed but this earwig is not attracted to plants.
How do I identify Earwigs?
The adult earwig can be identified by a pair of prominent appendages that resemble forceps at the tail end of the body. These are not poisonous nor spread disease. Depending on the species they can range in size from 5mm-25mm. Adult body is about a half inch long and is reddish brown in color.
If defending itself the forceps can be somewhat curved on the male and straight on the female. Immature earwigs look similar to adults but they are smaller and lack wings. Most species have wings located under short, hard wing covers, but rarely fly.
Earwigs are most active at night and hide during the day in a cool, moist place. Eggs are laid under the soil in cells dug by the female. Eggs hatch into small, white nymphs and will remain in the cell being fed by their mother until their first molt. Generally there is one generation a year but the female earwig does produce two broods a year. Part of the earwig population will hibernate during the winter as pairs buried in the cells in the soil. In a milder California climate they might be active all year.
Earwigs are mostly found out of doors in cooler wet environments. They could move inside when it is hot and dry outside. They do not pose a health hazard but will die because there is not enough for them to eat indoors.
Why should I be concerned about earwigs?
Earwigs are found most commonly in young or immature gardens that feature soft or young plants with new shoots. European earwigs feed on a variety of dead and living organisms, including insects, mites, growing shoots of plants, soft fruit and sweet corn. They typically feel on sprouts or decaying vegetation in a garden environment. Some species might also feed on soft-bodied insects such as aphids and insect eggs. If a yard is planted to turf and contains mature ornamental plants, earwigs are unlikely to be of concern.
Evidence of earwigs can include damaged seedlings missing all or parts of their leaves and stems. On corn, they feed on silks and prevent pollination. If fruit trees are attacked there will be leaves with irregular holes in them or chewed around edges, similar to what you would find with a caterpillar problem. Strawberries can also be a target but snails and slugs leave slime trails; if no trail is evident then it could be an earwig. Targeted flowers include Zinnias, Marigolds and Dahlias.
Earwigs will move into homes to find food or if their climate changes. You may find them where there is water, the kitchen, bathrooms, or laundry.
How can I get rid of Earwigs?
Earwigs can be vacuumed or swept up. Be sure to kill and dispose of them so there is not a re-invasion. Earwig problems can be prevented by sealing of cracks and entry points. Removing materials outside such as Ivy growing up walls, debris, wood piles, piles of newspapers or organic matter will help discourage easy hiding places. By eliminating moist soil or trimming overhanging branches the soil will become inhospitable for the earwigs.
Also try to prevent water and moisture around the building by repairing drain spouts, improving the drainage systems, and ventilating crawl spaces in order to let in as much air as possible. If earwigs are attracted to light, replace the bulb with yellow or sodium vapor lights.
Ignoring the problem will not make it go away, and this is why Brezden Pest Control’s San Luis Obispo pest control specialists are dedicated to offering as much information about pests as possible on our web site. We use our web site as more than just a business card. To keep our loyal customers educated, we’re writing valuable educational articles every month on the topic of pest control.
A common misconception is that an earwig is a silverfish or the other way around.
They both are nocturnal and have a preference for moisture but they have different lifestyle habits that can differentiate them. Earwigs have two appendages where Silverfish will have three. Silverfish also have an outer coating of scales and a softer body than earwigs.
Silverfish are common in basements and attics in the home where earwigs prefer moist soil. They primarily feed on sources of carbohydrates and protein like paper, fabric or food crumbs. Silverfish also lack wings and cannot fly.