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Are earwigs Harmful or beneficial?

Earwig Myths & Facts

Did you know that there are over one thousand documented species of earwig in the world, and 22 types in the United States? While this is an interesting fact, homeowners are usually more concerned with whether or not these creepy insects are harmful to their properties. In this article, we will take a look at the pros and cons of having earwigs in, or around your home. But first, let's take a moment to clear up some myths surrounding these creatures.

Contrary to popular belief, earwigs do not crawl inside the ears of humans, burrow into brains, and lay their eggs. This is pure fantasy and the stuff of nightmares. With that being cleared up, here is some accurate information about earwigs.

an earwig on a piece of wood outside of a home in pennsylvania

What Are Earwigs?

An earwig is an insect that has 2 antennae, 6 legs, 3 body parts, and a formidable set of usable pincers on the end of its abdomen. They measure between 5-25 millimeters in length, depending on the species and, for the most part, are considered harmless to humans. However, they can become a very frustrating pest if they come in large numbers. Earwigs are considered "moisture pests" because they are drawn to moisture, and they need moisture to survive. This is why they are likely to be found underneath piles of wet leaves, under mulch that is moist, or in areas of a home with high humidity. These creatures eat a fairly wide variety of foods, including leaves, fruits, seedlings, vegetable plants, flowers, insects, and mold. Some species of earwigs are mostly predators that feed on insects, while others are vegetarians that feed only on plants. But most are omnivorous and will feed on anything.

Earwigs Outside The Home

Earwigs can be found anywhere where there is enough moisture. As mentioned, some favorite places include underneath wet leaves or mulch. They also congregate underneath items lying on the ground such as tarps or woodpiles. Anywhere that is moist, quiet, and undisturbed (and where there is a food source) earwigs can thrive.

Since these insects love mold, they are drawn to places where wood has rotted due to excessive moisture. If they congregate on the outside of a home, it is likely they will find ways to get inside. They also are drawn to, and typically found in gardens, where they can damage tender shoots, especially if they are found in large numbers.

While they do damage plants, they can, in an indirect way, also protect plants. They do this by eating other pests that can also be harmful to plants and people. Earwigs eat aphids and mites as well as other undesirable garden pests.

Earwigs Inside The Home

While mostly harmless, these insects are known to pinch. They do not bite, and they are not known to spread harmful bacteria the way other pests, such as cockroaches and rodents, do. They can invade in large numbers and cause problems. If you are seeing earwigs inside your home, it is possible that you have moisture damage, wood rot, and/or mold on the outside of your home that is attracting them.

How To Prevent Earwigs From Being In Your Yard Or Entering Your Home

  • Keep your yard raked and neatly trimmed. This will go a long way towards reducing earwig populations in your yard and garden, as earwigs love rotting organic matter.

  • Reduce areas of shade by trimming back vegetation. This will help sunshine reach those areas and dry things out, so they will be less inviting to earwigs and other moisture pests.

  • Remove any rotting wood from your property. This will reduce earwigs.

  • Keep the area around the foundation of your home neatly trimmed, to allow maximum drying, and reduce hiding spots.

  • Keep outside lights off at night. Earwigs are drawn to light.

  • Inspect your foundation and walls for gaps, cracks, or holes. Sealing these up will go a long way toward keeping earwigs, and other pests, out.

  • Have a qualified pest control company perform routine pest control service on your property.

Professional Pest Control Is The Way To Go!

If you would like assistance in controlling earwigs inside or outside your home, or any other garden or household pest, call today and request your free inspection. Moyer Pest Control is standing by with professional pest control services that will guarantee you a pest-free home!

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