Occasional Invaders

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Earwig

earwig-bug-book

Color of Earwigs

Varies from pale brown with dark marks, to plain reddish-brown, to black with pale legs.

Characteristics

This is perhaps the strangest looking bug out there. And coming from us, that says a lot. If 'earwig' doesn't sound odd enough, it's also known as the 'Pincher Bug' thanks to a huge pair of pinchers - on its butt. Its body is long and flat, and has two sets of wings. The front ones are leathery, short and meet in a straight line down the back. The hind wings are fan-shaped and folded under the front wings. It also has a pair of threadlike antennae about half its own body length.

Where Found

These guys have been doing pretty well for themselves, as there are already 22 different species in the U.S. alone.

Habitat

Earwigs are hard-core winter enthusiasts, and spend the frigid season outdoors. They hang out in pairs in underground cells or burrows in winter. Females lay and tend their eggs and newly-hatched nymphs underground too.

Food

If it's dead, it's dinner. Especially if it's a plant or insect. On a lighter note, European Earwigs are more refined than their Yankee counterparts, enjoying honey straight from the comb.

Damage

Thankfully, both ears and wigs are safe from earwigs, unless you've got any dead bugs or plants in them. Instead they damage vegetables, flowers, fruits, ornamental plants and sometimes cultivated plants. Red-legged earwigs infest Irish and sweet potatoes sitting in storage, roots of greenhouse vegetables, flour mills and breweries. Striped earwigs aren't known to do any damage to plants.

Invasion

Despite being nocturnal, earwigs are attracted to light. European and Red-legged earwigs may enter homes through cracks or may be brought inside on other items.

Good Riddance

Luckily this insect is only an 'occasional invader' into our homes and businesses.

Control can be achieved by applying residual materials around the exterior of the structure. To aid control, address areas of high moisture. Check under stones, dark areas, between wooden fence boards, and moist areas of gardens near the structure. Clean up accumulated leaves and debris, and create an 18-inch vegetation-free zone around the foundation. Also check doors that may need weather stripping along the bottom to prevent insects from entering. Inside areas will also need treatment - however, the source will be the exterior, and control should thus be concentrated there.

You can use a vacuum to remove insects found inside in lieu of pesticide application. If you attempt to control these insects and make an application, be sure it is registered for the target pest/location. Control with liquid residual pesticides, baits or dusts. Read the entire label prior to use. Follow all label directions, restrictions, and precautions.