Earwigs by Wizzie Brown

Earwigs, while mostly a nuisance, may scare homeowners with the sight of their enlarged pincers on the abdomen. Their name comes from a wives’ tale that they would enter the ear while a person was sleeping and tunnel into the brain.

Earwigs are somewhat flattened, brown to black in color with large forcep-like pincers coming off the tip of the abdomen. Adults have a pair of shortened, leathery forewings that cover the membranous hindwings.

Earwigs feed on other insects that are alive or dead. They will also feed on decaying organic matter, lichen, moss, fungi or greasy foods.

When earwigs are found indoors, they are moving in from outside as an accidental invader. The insects can be removed with a vacuum or broom. If large numbers are found indoors, you may need to treat with a residual insecticide outdoors. It may also help your management program to utilize some of the following:

  • Replace old weather stripping around doors & windows

  • Seal pipe penetrations and cracks & crevices with sealant

  • Keep grass & foliage trimmed around the structure

  • Eliminate damp areas in crawl spaces or around the foundation

  • Reduce lighting around doors & windows or use yellow bulbs that are less attractive to insects

For more information or help with identification, contact Wizzie Brown, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist at 512.854.9600. Check out my blog at www.urban-ipm.blogspot.com. (photo credit: WesDigital)