Earwigs are a common, relatively diverse group of insects, with twelve different families comprising their order. They are found on every continent except Antarctica and are no less common in Ontario than they are elsewhere in the world. While myths persist about their attraction to the human ear, such behaviour is not common and only a few anecdotal accounts exist. Nevertheless, this pest is so common that it is worth being able to recognize them and spot potential infestations.
What do Earwigs Look Like?
Earwigs are described as the following:
- Earwigs are insects that can range anywhere from 7-50 millimetres in length. In Canada, they are typically brown in colour.
- All are long, flat insects, capable of fitting into crevices and cracks outdoors, such as under the bark of trees. Of course, such flexibility also allows them to hide away in the nooks and crannies of human homes.
- Their most notable characteristic is the relatively large pair of pincers, called cerci, attached to their abdomen. While earwigs do not typically harm humans, the pinch of these forceps can be painful.
How to Identify an Earwig or Earwig Infestation in your Home
Earwigs are not social creatures with colonies organized around queens, the way bees or termites are. Therefore, it is not as common to find great numbers of them living together. Still, when the conditions for their survival are met, they may propagate to frightening amounts.
Most earwigs thrive in dark, cool habitats, such as decaying plants or the first few inches of topsoil. Being nocturnal, they do not venture out much during the day. In fact, they tend not to survive long in the warmth and sunshine.
For this reason, large numbers are more likely to appear in basements or some