It’s no secret that earwigs are one of the most feared insects. Are you curious to know about earwigs?
In this world Earwigs have been around for many years. Earwigs are small insects that have some pretty alarming physical features.
Earwigs have flat bodies with pincers at the end of their lower body. They belong to the order Dermaptera.
They are acknowledged for their pincers, or forceps, at the end of their abdomen. Their pincers are not poisonous; they probably use them when they feel threatened for self-defence.
Earwigs have scary appearances, however, they are not dangerous to humans. Earwigs can be beneficial for gardeners as they feed on pests like aphids.
In this article, we are discussing all you need to know about earwigs. So, keep reading.
1. What are earwigs?
Earwigs belong to the omnivore’s family, which means that they can eat plants as well as animals.
In adult form, they usually eat worms and snails and prefer soft-bodied insects like aphids. They also eat fruit and vegetables, as also fungi and algae.
They are different in appearance, and the most distinctive feature of earwigs is the cerci, which are used for defence and for capturing their prey. Earwigs body is divided into three basic parts:
- The head
- The thorax
- The abdomen
Earwigs have head with two eyes. And the centre of the body is the thorax that supports the legs and wings. The largest part of the body is the abdomen which is the digestive system and the reproductive organ.
2. Why are earwigs called earwigs?
This question arises when we hear about Earwigs and makes us wonder. The interesting thing is that the bug’s name comes from a superstition that these bugs crawl into people’s ears and burrow inside their brains.
But this is just a myth; It’s not the truth. Earwigs are not known to crawl inside people’s ears or even cause them any harm. By their physical appearance, they are named earwigs.
3. Where do earwigs come from?
Earwigs are believed to have originated in the tropics and subtropics but can now be found on every continent except Antarctica.
They prefer moist environments with plenty of hiding places like gardens, piles of leaf litter, under rocks or decaying logs, or building crevices.
Around homes, they may be found in flowerbeds, in potted plants, and around windowsills. They may also use weep holes or openings to enter attics and wall voids.
To help control the population of these unwanted guests, it’s important to keep the area around your house clean and free from debris build-up.
4. Types of earwigs
Here is an in-depth look at some of the types of earwigs you may come across in your everyday life.
Ring-Legged Earwigs (Euborellia annulipes):
- Found in the US (southern areas)
- No wings.
- Slightly darker than the common earwig
- Not dangerous to humans
European Earwigs (Forficula auricularia):
- Found in cool and moist spots in and around the home.
- Around an inch long.
- Not a dangerous bug.
- The most common earwig in the United States.
- Nocturnal insect.
Seashore Earwigs (Anisolabis littorea)
- Light brown color at the front of the back.
- Eats insects, such as ants and fleas.
- Found in Australia and New Zealand.
Saint Helena Earwigs (Labidura herculeana)
- AKA the giant earwig.
- Found on the island of Saint Helena in the Atlantic Ocean.
Maritime Earwigs (Anisolabis maritima)
- Nocturnal insect.
- Found usually around coastal areas and feed on insects.
- Do not have a pair of wings and thus have no capability of flying.
Striped Earwigs (Labidura riparia):
- Lighter brown.
- Known as riparian earwig or shore earwig.
- Have a pair of stripes on the front back.
- Feed on many living and dead insects.
5. What attracts earwigs?
In many cases, it is warmth and moisture. Unfortunately for homeowners, this means earwigs can often be found in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms.
They may also appear around windows and door frames, as well as basements or attics that are poorly ventilated.
Additionally, decaying organic matter, such as fallen leaves and mulch, can attract earwigs. So be sure to keep these spaces clean to prevent an infestation.
And if you find yourself with too many unwelcome visitors, try using traps or insecticides to help get rid of them.
6. Are earwigs edible?
Earwigs are not edible and are not considered to be a human food source. But some cultures have been known to consume insects as a source of protein.
Earwigs are not commonly consumed because little information about their nutritional value is available. Moreover, many people find eating earwigs disgusting due to their appearance and association with being pests.
7. Can earwigs fly?
The answer is both yes and no. Earwigs are capable of taking short flights. However, they are not known for their aerial skills.
They usually only take to the skies when trying to escape danger or in search of food. Earwigs have two pairs of wings – one pair is leathery and used for protection, while the other pair is more membranous and delicate, allowing them to take short flights.
8. Do earwigs bite? (Are earwigs dangerous or harmful?)
The answer is yes; they do sometimes bite humans. Earwigs typically feed on decaying plant material and insects, but they can bite humans if handled carelessly or when they are provoked.
Their bites are usually harmless and cause only mild pain and itching. People with sensitive skin may experience more serious reactions to an earwig bite.
It’s best to avoid handling earwigs to reduce the risk of being bitten. If you face an earwig, moving away slowly and gently is best. Although they may look intimidating, earwigs pose no serious threat to humans!
9. Do earwigs go in your ear?
No, earwigs do not go in your ear! While the name might be a bit of a scary thought, these little bug pests are harmless and prefer to stay away from humans.
They do have pincers on their rear end that can give you a gentle pinch if they feel threatened, but they much prefer to stay away from us and only come out at night.
So, rest easy, earwigs won’t be crawling into your ears anytime soon.
10. Can earwigs survive in water?
Although earwigs are not aquatic insects, they are capable of surviving in wet environments. They can survive underwater for a short period by closing the spiracles; the small openings on the sides of their bodies through which they breathe and also by secreting a waxy substance that repels water and keeps them from getting wet.
Earwigs cannot even swim, but they can survive in areas where they’re moist for a short period.
11. What do earwigs eat?
Earwigs are omnivorous, meaning they eat both plant matter and other insects. They will feast on small insects like aphids, mold, decaying wood, and material around the home, such as rotting fruit or vegetables.
Believe it or not, these spindly bugs consume various materials. In the wild, earwigs enjoy plant matter such as leaves and flowers and smaller insects like aphids and mites. They have also been known to nibble on decaying wood and fungi too.
12. Do spiders eat earwigs?
No, spiders do not generally eat earwigs. Earwigs are small insects; most of the time, they’re too tiny to be of interest to spiders.
However, when faced with hunger or a particularly large earwig, some spider species have been known to chow down on them. So, while it’s not their usual diet, earwigs do sometimes become spider snacks.
So, if you want to keep your garden free of earwigs and spiders, the best thing to do is take preventative measures before both pests gain a foothold.
13. Are earwigs dangerous to cats?
Though intimidating with their pincers, earwigs are essentially harmless to cats and humans. They do not bite or sting and won’t harm your feline friend in any way.
So while they may be an unwelcome guest in your home, you can rest assured knowing your cat will be safe. But if you’d rather not have earwigs around, you can do a few things to keep them away.
Sealing cracks and crevices around doors and windows are one way to prevent their entry; regularly washing pet bedding and other fabrics with hot water also helps. And if you’re brave enough, you can always grab a pair of gloves and vacuum them up.
14. Do chickens eat earwigs?
The answer is a surprising yes; chickens have been known to eat earwigs when presented with the opportunity. However, this isn’t a common occurrence and certainly not something to encourage as part of your chickens’ regular diet.
Earwigs may contain harmful parasites or toxins that can make your birds ill, so it’s best to keep them away from your flock.
On the bright side, earwigs are a great source of protein for chickens and can make a tasty snack every once in a while. Just be sure to monitor your birds closely if you decide to let them have any.
15. How to get rid of earwigs?
Earwigs are a nuisance pest. They can hide in damp places and feed on plants, fungi, and other small insects. Fortunately, there are various ways to get rid of them.
- Seal any cracks and crevices in the house to prevent earwigs from entering.
- Remove moist, decaying wood and other organic debris from around your home’s foundation, as this can attract earwigs.
- Keep it clean and tidy if you have a garden, as earwigs love damp and dark hiding places.
- Use natural predators such as birds, toads, and lizards to control earwigs.
- Make use of diatomaceous earth which is a naturally occurring powder that can be used to create an effective barrier against earwigs.
- Set up traps made from small containers filled with soapy water and vegetable oil to lure the earwigs.
- Apply insecticides for more serious infestations, but follow all instructions carefully.
While earwigs may be perceived as unwanted pests, they are also intriguing creatures with distinct features and behaviours.
By gaining knowledge about their biology, natural environment, and effective methods, we can learn how to handle them. With appropriate techniques & equipment, it is feasible to maintain earwig populations in check and enjoy our gardens or homes without disturbance from these insects.
What do earwigs look like?
Earwigs are typically brown or black insects with a pair of pincers at the end of their abdomen. They can reach a length of 0.5 inches. Adult earwigs have two pairs of wings but are not strong fliers.
Where are earwigs commonly found?
Earwigs can be found worldwide but are most common in temperate regions and rainforests. They are often found in greenhouses and indoor gardens. They are not aquatic insects so they cannot survive for long periods underwater.
Are earwigs harmful to humans?
Earwigs are generally harmless to humans and only pinch when threatened or handled roughly. They are not known to transmit any diseases to humans.
What do earwigs eat?
Earwigs have quite diverse diets; they eat various plant and animal matter. They benefit gardeners because they eat insects and other arthropods that feed on plants.
How long do earwigs live?
Earwigs generally have a short life span of around 1-2 years.
What is the reproductive cycle of earwigs?
Earwigs can reproduce throughout the year, laying eggs in small clusters. Their nymphs look like adults but are smaller and lack wings.
Are earwigs active all year round?
Earwigs are active all year round but less active in cold winter. They are most active at night and hide in the dark, damp places like under rocks or in logs during the day.