The name earwig comes from an old European superstition that these bugs enter through the ear canal and bore into a persons brain. You can rest easy as this belief is unfounded. Although this insect isn’t going to find its way into your deepest thoughts, it may find its way into your home.
There are a few different species in North America, the one you will find here in N.B. is called the European Earwig. This bug is recognized by its dark colour, reddish-brown head and pale wing covers…if you have a microscope. If your using your naked eyes then the pincher-like forceps at its rear end are a dead give away. These curved forceps are used to kill and obtain food, as well as defence against others that are higher in the food chain.
Earwigs spend the winter just a couple inches below the surface. This is where females lay and tend to their eggs. Newly hatched earwigs go through 4-5 nymphal instars and reach adulthood in about 68 days. Some females live as long as 7 months after attaining maturity.
Earwigs are nocturnal, at night they feed on plants (alive or dead) and capture other insects that can be found in your garden or lawn. The bravest of these ugly bugs have even been recorded eating honey in beehives. They often damage fruits, vegetables, flowers and shrubs. During the day they hide in cool, dark/damp places. Many insects prefer moisture, earwigs actually require it. Neither the eggs nor the nymphs can survive long periods of dryness. Although predominately found in garden/mulched areas, they are great climbers and often infest door/window frames and fences (especially fences with lattice work).
The key to controlling these creepy crawlers is yard maintenance. Removal of unessential mulch, plant debris, rocks or old patio stones from around the structure. These steps help establish a low-moisture zone.
Earwig traps are available in some garden centres. They are long thin boxes that are open on either end and comprised of several slats about a 1/4′ wide. Earwigs crawl in and accumulate so every few days they need to be opened and emptied.
The “poor-man’s” earwig trap is old newspapers. Roll them up and secure them with rubber bands then soak them with the garden hose. Place around the foundation or areas of heavy activity. The next day when you pick them up and throw them out, you will also be throwing out hundreds of earwigs. I know, I know that sounds gross, so if you prefer you can call us and we would be happy to take care of it.
– Jamie LeRoy
Northern area manager
Northern area manager