Earwigs belong to the insect order of Dermaptera (meaning skin-winged). In Australia we find the Native Earwig and the European Earwig, which differ slightly in size and shape. The European Earwig was introduced from Europe in the 1930’s.
- The name “earwig” comes from an old superstition that the insects burrow into people’s ears while sleeping. This is totally folklore and has no scientific merit whatsoever.
- Earwigs are 10mm-20mm in length and vary in colour from reddish-brown to black, with yellow legs and antennae. They are slender insects with two pairs of wings and two long antennae. They have a pair of pincers, called forceps, extending from the back of their abdomen. In the springtime the female lays her eggs in burrows, 30-50 at a time. After hatching, the nymphs undergo 4-5 moults until they become adults. Nymphs resemble the adults except they do not have wings.
- Earwigs are omnivorous, eating plants and other insects. They are fast moving ground insects, although some can fly. Earwigs are active at night. They are attracted to lights and can become a nuisance on porches and patios on summer evenings. In the mornings they can be found under items left outside overnight like cushions. During the day they hide in cracks and damp areas, under rocks, logs and in mulch in flowerbeds. Earwigs enter homes looking for food and shelter. They are mostly found in areas where there is water like kitchens, bathrooms and laundries, but also make their way into bedrooms and family rooms.
- Earwigs frighten people because of the pincers (forceps) on the back of their abdomen, which can be somewhat intimidating. They are harmless to humans, but if disturbed, the forceps can latch onto skin leading to a slightly painful pinch, but this is not common. Earwigs use their forceps for defence and for sparing with rival earwigs.
- The most important part in controlling earwigs is to eliminate or treat their hiding places. Also moving landscape timbers, logs, decorative stones and firewood away from the foundation will minimise harbourages. If possible, try and create a 30cm zone next to the foundation that is free of mulch, dead leaves and other organic material which the earwigs will avoid.
A PEST-ZAP specialist will have the products, equipment and knowledge to effectively control earwigs
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