What are Earwigs?
Earwigs ((Forficula auricularia) are often confused with silverfish, due to similar appearance. The earwig is usually reddish brown to black and easily identified by the two prongs on the tail. These insects gained their name from a European myth saying they used their slender bodies to climb inside people’s ears and lay eggs in their brain. This myth is completely untrue. Though creepy, these insects are relatively harmless and not known to bite or harm people.
Earwigs flock to moist places, generally staying outside the home. They form colonies along a structure’s foundation, in logs and mulched garden beds. An earwig may come inside the home through windows and doors, but rarely make their colonies inside the house. Moist areas, such as the bathroom, will likely attract a stray insect or two. These bugs are most active at night, spending most of the day hiding in damp, dark areas.
Luckily, ridding your home of these insects is a fairly simple process. Since, these bugs prefer to be outdoors, relocating them outside generally keeps your home earwig-free. Should you discover a large population of these insects inside your home, your best weapon is a standard, household vacuum cleaner.
Vacuum: Set it up near the colony as quietly as possible, to avoid disturbing the insects. Vacuum up all bugs and eggs. Dispose of the bag or empty the container into a sealed trash can.
Boric Acid: This powdery substance is safe for people and pets, but helps control insect populations. Sprinkle around areas where you have noticed insect activity. Also sprinkle around baseboards and in cracks around the home. For safety, avoid letting pets lick or ingest boric acid powder.
Simple home improvement tasks help control earwig populations. Fill cracks around windows, doors and the foundation. Sweep up debris and clear plants from the foundation which may provide shelter for these bugs.
These insects may cause minor damage in the garden, as they eat both plants and other insects. Generally, they do not cause widespread damage to crops or garden plants. Setting traps in the garden safely keeps earwig populations under control.
Rolled up newspapers and empty cereal boxes provide ideal hiding spots for earwigs. Bait with oats or bran. Earwigs will often crawl inside to hide during the day. Dispose of trapped earwigs in a sealed trash can.
Woody plants seem to be a favorite of earwigs. Place sticky fly tape or petroleum jelly around the base of the plants to trap bugs.
Diatomaceous earth naturally controls insect populations, but does not harm plants. Sprinkle in mulch and soil around garden bed. Reapply once a week throughout the growing season, if necessary.