As you dig into the damp soil of your garden, flip over rocks in your yard or rake leaves, you may unearth a few insects in the process, like earwigs. These pests are drawn to dark, cool conditions where they can thrive. While seemingly harmless, stumbling upon earwigs in your home can be off-putting or damaging to your precious plants. You may even wonder what earwigs are a sign of, curious about the ideal conditions that cause them to make their way inside. In this post, we’ll explore the details and facts about these pests, including common misconceptions.

Understanding Earwigs

Recognizing earwigs is relatively easy due to their distinct physical attributes:

  • Pincers or forcep-like appendages at the tip of their abdomen
  • Adults can be up 10 to 16 millimetres long, depending on the species
  • Colouring ranges from a dark red-brown to a shiny black
  • Short leathery wings that cover only mid body with abdomen exposed
  • Long threadlike antennae, almost half the body length

Interestingly, though it appears they do not have wings, many adult earwig species possess fully developed functional wings, enabling them to fly. However, due to their fragile wings and less-than-graceful flight patterns, they typically prefer scurrying over soaring.

Similar to other insects, earwigs metamorphose from eggs into adults. Most species are scavengers, consuming dead insects or decaying plant material, while some adopt predatory behaviour, preying on other living insects, arthropods or feeding on live plants. 

Active at night, earwigs can be attracted to lights and warm temperatures. Once they have found a suitable habitat, they secrete a pheromone trail leading to the nest, attracting more earwigs. This behaviour can lead to large swarms around building foundations and other stone structures.

Common Misconceptions About Earwigs

Despite their somewhat alarming appearance and unsettling name, many misunderstandings about earwigs prevail, making them seem more daunting than they truly are.

  • Misconception: Earwigs enter your ear canal and bore into your brain.
    • Fact: Earwigs tend to avoid contact with humans and do not attack unless they are defending themselves.
  • Misconception: Earwigs can use their tweezer-like appendages to inflict a painful pinch.
    • Fact: While earwigs can use their pincers when they feel threatened, they are relatively weak and rarely injure or break human skin.

The Significance of Earwigs

Although unsightly, earwigs play an important role in gardens and areas of dense vegetation. As scavengers, they consume dead insects and plant material, recycling these resources. Additionally, they have been known to prey on aphids which commonly attack outdoor gardens and foliage. 

However, earwigs can also be destructive in large numbers, feeding on flowers, vegetables, ornamental trees, and shrubs, thus killing healthy plants.

Though the pincers are relatively weak, they can still inflict painful pinches if trapped against naked skin, especially in infants with tender skin.

Contact Orkin Canada for Complete Removal

If you’ve been curious about what earwigs in your home are a sign of, your local Orkin Pro can help you identify the root cause. From there, we’ll put together a strategic plan for removal and ensure preventative measures are put in place to keep these pests out of your home. Contact us today to learn more. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are earwigs harmful to humans or pets?

Earwigs pose no harm to humans or pets as they do not transmit pathogens or, in most cases, cause significant harm with their bites or pincers.

What attracts earwigs to my home?

Earwigs are attracted to moist conditions. Leaky pipes, humid basements, or any damp areas in your home can serve as an attractive environment for them. Once they find such ideal conditions, earwigs release pheromones to bring more earwigs to the same space.

Do earwigs actually crawl into human ears?

There is no anecdotal or scientific proof that earwigs crawl into human ears. They tend to avoid contact with people altogether. 

How can I get rid of earwigs naturally?

There are various remedies available to help with getting rid of earwigs. However, they don’t tend to target the larger problem, usually just the immediate issue. Outdoor targeted treatments will help with the root of the infestation, while indoor measures tend to be more supplementary. We recommend contacting the Pros at Orkin Canada for a free estimate, inspections or for more information on how to get rid of earwigs.