Earwigs: A Common Pest of Summer

Earwig_DrawingPest Prevention Tips for Retail Food Stores

The Earwig: A Common Pest of Summer

There are a variety of different species of earwigs in the United States but the most common one in the Midwest is the European earwig. Adults are approximately 5/8” in length, flat and reddish brown in color. They have 2 pairs of wings. One pair is folded underneath a pair of short, leathery wings. The most easily recognizable feature is the pair of pinchers at the rear of the body. These pinchers are used for capturing prey and in defense. Earwigs are most active at night and rest under objects like flower pots, boards and other items where moisture has collected during the day. They can fly, but rarely do so.

Despite the myth surrounding earwigs, they do not commonly enter the ears, bore into the human brain or cause other medical harm to humans. They will feed on seedlings and can be considered a serious horticultural pest in greenhouses. They may feed on leaves in gardens and garden centers. They will also feed on soft fruits and sweet corn and can cause damage to produce. In adverse weather conditions of extreme heat or drought, they may enter structures in large numbers through poorly sealed doors. In addition, they may hitch-hike on items brought indoors like plants.

Follow these tips to reduce the risk of an earwig infestation:

  • Keep doors well sealed, especially at the base. Use astragal door seals to seal the space between the center of double doors.
  • Keep doors closed when not in use and make sure timing mechanisms on automatic doors are functioning properly.
  • Avoid the use of wood-based mulches in landscaped areas which help retain moisture and encourage earwigs.
  • Inspect items stored outside prior to bringing them into the store. Earwigs will hide under objects and can hitch-hike indoors.
  • Repair leaks and drainage issues on the exterior which may provide the moisture that earwigs like.