EarwigsWith nearly 2,000 species in 12 different families, Earwigs, a nocturnal insect, are one of the smaller order of insects.

Earwigs will have 5 molts to go through in the year before reaching adulthood.

There are actually some species of Earwigs that display maternal care, which is an uncommon characteristic among insects. A female may care for her eggs long after they've hatched as nymphs, continuing to watch over her offspring until they reach their second molt. During molts is when differences in pincer shapes start to occur.

Earwigs have a known, ominous myth of being an insect capable of crawling into people's ears, proceeding to bore into their brains causing death. There is, in fact, no truth to this myth. In fact, Earwigs don't pose any direct harm to humans at all. The one nuisance they're responsible for is damage to commercial and residential crops.

Characteristics

Earwigs are a part of the Dermaptera order of insects. Their bodies are generally flattened and elongated.  Their heads possess a pair of segmented Antennae. Their eyes are compound with a reduced, and sometimes absent, taxa. Earnings have two wings that contain modified forewings that are short, smooth and veinless. Their hindwings are semicircular with veins that radiate in an outward direction. The abdomen is unsegmented in males, whereas females' ovipositor are reduced or completely absent.  

Most Earwigs have a body that's flattened. This is what allows them to fit in tight crevices, such as under bark.

Earwigs can grow up to a length of 7 to 50 millimeters (or 0.28 to 1.97 inches). Their pincers are curved for males, and females have straight ones. These are used for catching prey, defense against predators, and can be folded under their wings.

Despite the fact that Earwigs do have wings, rarely any of them are actually capable of flying.

Distribution and Habitat

An abundance of Earwigs can be found in the Americas and Eurasia. The most common Earwig was introduced in 1907 in North America from Europe. However, it's more commonly found in the southwestern United States. It's only in the Northern United States you'll find the native spine-tailed Earwig species, which can be found as far as Canada. Other families of Earwigs found in Northern America include Anisolabididae, Forficulidae, Labiidae and Labiduridae.

There are only few Earwigs which can be found surviving winter outdoors. They're normally found in tight crevices located in woodland areas, fields and even gardens.

Out of the 1,800 different species of Earwigs, 25 are distributed throughout North America, 45 are located in Europe and 60 species reside in Australia.

Since Earwigs are nocturnal, they're generally hiding in small and dark moist areas during the day. And they'll usually be seen on household ceilings and walls. During the warmer Summer months, Earwigs can be found on any kind of damp areas, like in sinks or bathrooms. Any shady cracks or openings provide a great place to conceal themselves when it's daytime. Other potential habitats for Earwigs include picnic tables, lawn furniture, the frames of windows, and patios; essentially, anything that provide a small, shaded space.

An Earwig's Lifespan and Lifecycle

Earwig PhotoBecause there are so many different Earwig species,  lifespans will have slight variations but ultimately have many similarities.

The average lifespan of a typical, common Earwig ranges from 1 to 3 years.

Usually, only adult Earwigs will survive winter and the seasonal change prior to colder weather. This is because adults are much more suited to tolerate climate and environmental changes.

Earwigs go through a gradual metamorphosis during their lifecycle. It's a basic changing of stages for Earwigs: from eggs, to nymphs (or babies), to an adult. Nymphs will typically resemble that of an adult, just a smaller version. The larva will remain in a pupal stage before emerging as a full adult.

Diet

Earwigs will typically feed on a variety of plant and abnormal matter both dead and living.

The common Earwig consumes the foliage of leaves and petals. They've even been known to feed on sweet fruits with syrup-like textures, such as peaches and apricots.

Other plants privy to an Earwig’s diet also includes clover, celery, sunflowers, grapes, beets and roses.

Behavior

When protecting themselves from predators, Earwigs will squirt a fowl-smelling discharge of yellow liquid which come from the scent glands on their dorsal side of the I segmented abdomen. And if necessary, will use its pincers as a defense mechanism, as well.

Earwigs' Impact on Humans

Earwigs are found in many different places all over the world. But despite their abundance, there is no evidence that Earwigs are responsible for the transmission of diseases to humans and other animals. Even though their pincers look intimidating, they are, in fact, of no harm or pain to humans.

When it comes to the danger of beneficial crops, there is a debate as to whether or not Earwigs are responsible for it. Earwigs consume foliage, as well as insects that eat the foliage, but it would take a significant amount of Earwigs to cause any noticeable damage.

Because Earwigs feed on foliage, they have been known to cause a significant economic loss in fruit and vegetable crops, such as hop yards and corn crops in France and Germany.

Preventing Earwig Intrusions

It's important to remember that Earwigs prefer cool, damp and wet areas. Decaying vegetation make a great home for Earwigs, as there is an ample supply of food for them to rely on. Removing moisture and decaying vegetation from your home (or not allowing it to accumulate in the first place) is what will make your property a less-favorable condition for Earwigs.

Controlling Earwigs

If you're having an Earwig problem, contact Alliance Pest Services for safe, professional removal to ensure that your home is Earwig-free.