Earwigs are Coming.

Look out Fox Valley! Earwigs are coming! Earwigs are coming! If you’re not careful, they

may crawl into your ear and burrow into your brain!

Although the name “earwig” is loosely translated to mean “ear creature” this untruth stems

from a several centuries long superstition that this arthropod will crawl into the ear of a sleeping

person. Once there, it was believed the female earwig would bore into the brain and lay

her eggs there. Before you knew it, you would have a family of earwigs crawling inside your

head driving you crazy. Fortunately this is fallacy, but earwigs can still become a problematic

nuisance pest.

This year we took a lot of moisture late in the winter. This continued throughout the spring and

early summer. That led to very damp soil conditions and moist mulch areas around the home

early in the year. We have noticed a large up-tick in the earwig populations due to this and other

factors, such as the high humidity this summer. All of these things contribute to the huge earwig

populations we are experiencing now.

Earwigs generally live on the exterior of your home, seeking any dark, moist crevice, such as

vegetation and wood piles.

Earwigs are active at night and hide during the day in cracks and crevices. They are mainly

scavengers and occasionally feed on plants. The eggs are laid in burrows in the ground and most

species overwinter as adults.

During times of heavy population (like this year) earwigs turn to our homes. When earwigs

do invade homes, they can get into everything, including laundry, furniture, loaves of bread,

and even clothing and bedding. They hide in cracks and crevices throughout the home and are

difficult to keep out, even with the use of screens and other barriers.

A homeowner has 2 main courses of action when dealing with this nuisance pest. Neither work

in isolation, rather both works in tandem to provide the best results.

1. Clean up surrounding areas – Earwigs can be found in large numbers under boards,

in tree holes, under decaying bark, or wherever it is moist and dark. The first step

to controlling earwigs is to eliminate these and other breeding and nesting places.

Homeowners should remove decaying vegetable matter around the home, such as piles

of leaves or grass clippings. They should also repair poorly placed rain downspouts and

broken irrigation systems, which contribute to moist, dark areas that are attractive to

nesting females.

2. Exterior perimeter sprays – Professional pest control products may be used to control

earwigs. However, most spraying should be done outside the house to provide a barrier

over which earwigs will be less likely to cross. Active ingredients such as deltamethrin,

cyfluthrin, fipronil, lambda-cyhalothrin, cypermethrin, sumithrin or tralomethrin may be

used in such perimeter areas and must be applied according to label directions. Outdoor

perimeter spraying should be started during early summer and continue through late

fall. Special attention should be paid to the areas most frequented by earwigs, including

building foundations, areas along fences and walks, around trees and utility poles, and

around wood piles and rocks.

In order to really optimize control of damp-dwelling earwigs and other mid-summer pests

like centipedes & millipedes, homeowners need to apply a perimeter barrier of about 3 feet in

width, extending around the entire exterior of their home. This barrier should be applied in two

concurrent months, and then once every season thereafter during the spring, summer, and fall.

Additional treatments should be provided as needed. An ambitious homeowner may undertake

this task on their own, or contact a trusted professional, like ProActive Pest Management.

If you have any questions about earwigs or any other pests, please do not hesitate to call. We are

here to serve.