European earwigs, the only species of earwig found in Wisconsin, are long, thin insects with pincer-like appendages on their abdomen. Red-brown or black in color, they are typically less than an inch in length. They are typically scavengers that feed on dead plant and animal matter. It is not uncommon for them to feed on small garden pests or the root systems of garden plants, though.
European earwigs are most active at night. During the day they will often hide in fruits, flowers or leaves, which is how they usually end up inside homes. They can also be found hiding under boards, stones, or other debris. Their thin bodies allow them to gain access to even the smallest of crevices. Paired with their speed, this can lead to them being a hard insect to get out of your home once inside. However, it is unusual for them to breed once inside your home, and they will eventually die off.
Earwig eggs are laid in small batches or clutches in an underground chamber. These chambers can be as deep as six feet below the surface. The adult earwigs will spend the winter hibernating with the clutch of eggs. Upon the arrival of spring, the female earwig will actually guard the eggs and the newly hatched young, an uncharacteristic behavior for most insects. After the first molt, the young leave the nest and fend for themselves, and the adult female will die. The young typically reach adulthood by the fall, and the cycle repeats.
While earwigs may be gross and look creepy, they actually pose no threat to humans. They can pinch with their pincer-like appendages on their abdomen, which they do use to help capture prey, but typically they cannot pinch hard enough to cause harm to humans. However, they can cause serious damage to gardens. This damage often takes the same appearance as slug damage, but without the trails typically associated with slugs. If you suspect you have an earwig problem in your garden, Advanced Wildlife Control is here to help! Our technicians can also make sure these creepy crawlers stay out of your homes.
Did You Know?
An old wives tale states that earwigs got their name because they will enter human ears and burrow into your brain, but that is totally false! Earwigs are actually more likely to have gained their name from their ear-shaped wings!