What are Earwigs?

by April Reinhardt
(last updated May 27, 2009)

My workspace at work occupies the lobby of our business, and I am virtually alone all day, except for the vendors and co-workers who traverse my area periodically. Thus, I often whistle or hum to myself while I work, knowing that my "music" won't bother anyone. Last week I was whistling tunes from old TV sitcoms and Sara came to speak with me just as I was finishing whistling a stanza of the "The Brady Bunch" theme song. She just glared at me and said, "Thanks for the earwig."

Sara was talking about a tune that gets stuck in your head that you can't seem to shake, and not the insect by the same name. An earwig is menacing-looking insect, with large forcep-like pincers on its end. And, contrary to myth, earwigs do not burrow into your ear canal to lay eggs that will eventually hatch with resulting earwigs feeding from your brain. Perhaps the myth perpetuated from the fact that earwigs are slender, like to hide in moist places, and could actually fit into a moist ear canal. Yet, that is simply a myth.

Here are some actual facts about earwigs:

  • An earwig is dark brown, almost a reddish-brown, with light brown legs, about ˝-inch long and is easily recognized by the pincers at the end of its body.
  • Earwigs can eat live plants and damage field crops, are nocturnal and feed at night, and some species feed from decomposing plant material as well as dead insect carcasses.
  • During daylight, earwigs seek shelter under moist places such as sidewalks, stones, tree bark, woodpiles, mulch, pine straw, wet carpet, and yard debris.
  • Since earwigs are very slender and can flatten their bodies to fit into tight places, they can gain entry to a home through cracks in the foundation, ill-fitting window casings, and holes bored by other insects.
  • Earwigs can become a problem in new construction, building up large populations in new home foundations. They cohabitate with other insects that prefer dark, damp places such as centipedes, millipedes, and roly-poly bugs.
  • The female earwig creates a burrow about three inches below the soil in which to lay her eggs, and can lay up to 60 eggs at a time. Earwigs over-winter in the soil and then hatch, living only one generation.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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