Earwigs are some seriously creepy and eerie-looking creatures. Their extended antennae are long in comparison to their overall body length, and they have flattish and elongated bodies up to 50mm from stem to stern. As Toronto’s best pest exterminators, it’s our pleasure to bring you a little intel on these utterly-disgusting insects. There’s a test after, and a gold star to hand out, so buckle up and pay attention.
Meet the Enemy
Earwigs feature two pairs of wings, but their most unsettling feature? A set of pincer-like “cerci,” claw-like appendages that sprout from their hindquarters which are sure to give you the willies.
There are a mortifying 2,000 species of earwigs in some 12 different scientifically-classified families. While they’re one of the smaller insect orders, they are among the least attractive. Some members of the earwig family act as tiny parasites riding on mammals, and the nasty little buggers are found on every continent with the notable exception of Antarctica.
For the most part nocturnal, they’re known to hide in small and moist spaces during the day while they save up their energy to scuttle around at night in search of insects and plants to eat. They can damage to various crops, foliage, and flowers and the common earwig is particularly nasty.
During their five annual molts during the year before they reach adulthood, many earwig species can seem downright maternal – and that’s hardly the rule among insect species. Female earwigs actually care for their eggs and they’ve been known to keep a watch on their freshly-hatched nymphs until the offspring reach their second molt. Isn’t that precious?
Once the nymphs begin to molt, it becomes possible to determine their sex by noting the differences in the shapes of their pincers.
As luck would have it, some earwig species have passed into the forever great beyond during the Late Triassic and Middle Jurassic periods, so we no longer have to worry about them chewing up our flower beds.
Some Fast Earwig Facts:
- You can expect to see more earwigs during the wetter, rainy periods
- Earwigs like to move away from mulch and moist material and then on into your home. To stop that from happening, check for them on items you bring indoors like lawn furniture, vegetables, flowers and particularly firewood.
- It helps to keep mulch away from contact with your home’s foundation and a small strip of bare, dry soil keeps them at bay.
- If earwigs make it inside? Vacuum them up. It’s very satisfying.
- Birds and toads both think earwigs are a delicious snack, so encourage them to hang out in your yard with a bird feeder and – in case you might think about it – don’t vacuum up friendly toads.
While it’s a fantastically creepy idea, it was once thought that earwigs liked to burrow into a human head through the ear canal and lay their eggs inside the skull. While that’s an old wives’ tale, it’s still a horrible enough idea to stick with you when you see one, and send you into an itching and twitching frenzy.
Unlucky for Us
Earwigs are common little cruds and you can find them throughout the Americas and Eurasia, but the “common earwig” was brought into North America back in the 1900s from Europe, so they know how to kick it, old-school. While they tend to most common in the southern and southwestern parts of the US, the only native species of earwig found in the northern reaches of North America are known as the spine-tailed earwig.
The spine-tailed earwig hides within leaf axils of new-growth plants in southern Ontario throughout wetland areas. Though they’re not good at surviving winter outdoors in cooler climates, they carry on by wedging their way into crevices in woodlands, gardens, and fields.
It is a comfort that in Canada, we don’t have to worry about the largest species of the breed, the Australian Giant Earwig which can grow to 50mm or 2 inches in length. It’s also very good news that the Saint Helena Earwig is thought to be extinct. Those creepy versions once reached 78 mm or just over 3 inches in length.
As for their cerci, Earwigs use those forceps sprouting from their abdomen to capture prey and defend themselves.
So, what’s inside your typical Earwig? Well, there’s a brain and a whole bunch of neural connections that help them find their way into your yard, home, and nightmares.
Life Cycle and Other Icky Info
Earwigs live for about a year from the moment they hatch, and begin mating in the autumn. The male and female choose to make their home in a space within a pile of debris or a crevice, and sometimes they take up residence below about an inch of soil. After mating, it may be months before the female’s eggs are fertilized. Once the female lays her pearly-white eggs over the course of a couple of days, the fun begins. The females have also been known to defend their eggs from predators. They also clean the eggs to protect them from infestation by fungi.
Once the earwigs are born, they live – due to a sensitivity to hot and dry conditions – in cool and damp places such as beneath leaves or under piles of wood.
Even though they prefer to live outside, they can end inside your home as, on hot summer days, they migrate in search of cool spaces like basements or crawl spaces.
What Can You Do?
In case you couldn’t tell, we have loads of insider knowledge on how to deal with pests, and we’re more than happy to share our know-how on getting rid of them with you. As professional Toronto exterminators, we’ve been there, done that when it comes to getting rid of earwigs and other creepy crawlers that make their way into your home.
Reach us at 647-708-7378 or get in touch with us online. We won’t talk your ear off with anymore earwig facts – we’ll just get right to work clearing your home any infestation woes. There’s no job too big or too small for our professional team, and even the squirmiest earwigs can’t gross us out. Give us a call today and get started on your way to an earwig-free, happy future.