683 Woodcrest Rd,
Thunder Bay, On

Phone: (807) 767-6900
Fax: (807) 767-9100
Email: info@creekside.ca

creekside.ca

683 Woodcrest Rd, Thunder Bay ON, P7G 1J2
(807) 767-6900
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Earwigs: not that bad (unless you look at them)

February 22, 2017

When I was digging a new flower bed last weekend I turned over some turf and, to my horror, discovered at least a dozen scurrying earwigs. Earwigs have been regular pests in some parts of Canada, such as Southern Ontario, the east and west coasts, but are relatively new to Thunder Bay. For those fortunate people who haven't seen one, an adult earwig is approximately 1.5 to 2.0 cm long. Its body is flat looking and reddish-brown. The most recognizable characteristic of an earwig is its prominent pincer-like projections, or forceps, at the end of its body which make it utterly frightful in appearance. Rest assured, though, the forceps are used mainly for courtship and defense from predators and are not harmful to humans.

As soon as I saw our little family of earwigs I dropped my spade and rushed to my computer. I searched the Internet for some sort of evidence proving that these ugly bugs are a terrible menace and must be destroyed immediately because, let's face it, they are just plain yukky. However, everything I read told me that they are usually beneficial, feeding on mainly decaying organic matter and occasionally other small insects such as armyworms, aphids, mites and sometimes even other earwigs.

They are not always our friends, though. Earwigs often do feast on tender young shoots of flowering plants and vegetables and are capable of destroying them. You'll see evidence of earwig damage when irregular holes appear in leaves and petals. Snails, slugs and cutworms cause similar damage, but earwigs sometimes unfairly take the blame when they are spotted in a garden. To find out if earwigs are truly the cause of damage, check your plants at night, using a flashlight, because earwigs are nocturnal feeders.

During the day, earwigs hide in cool, dark, moist places. They crawl under stones, boards or flower pots, and hide in organic debris, piles of firewood and other cracks and crevices. At dusk, earwigs emerge from their hiding places and begin feeding.

Earwigs often begin to infiltrate homes in the summer months. Many people have been horrified to find these insects in cupboards, in clothing or between bed sheets (Ugh! Can you imagine?) Their presence in the home is definitely an annoyance, but earwigs inside the house do not cause any harm or destruction. They usually enter houses by accident when seeking shelter. Earwigs will not breed indoors and they will eventually die.

One more thing…The name earwig comes from an ancient European superstition that these insects enter the ears of a sleeping person and bore into the brain. This belief is totally false (Whew!)