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Earwigs their Lives and Habits

By:   |   Jul 08, 2018   |   Views: 15   |   Comments: 0
Earwigs are beetle-like insects about 3/4" long and reddish-brown. The insect has a prominent pair of forcep-like cerci at the rear of the body. Earwigs are white after they moult, but become darker as their external skeleton hardens. The nymphs disperse from the brood cell in early July.

Earwigs are primarily scavengers (dead insects and rotting plants). Some species are predators and some species will emit a foul odor. Earwigs are elongate, flattened insects, ranging from light red-brown to black and are easily recognized by their forcep-like appendages (pincers) on the end of the abdomen. The forceps (cerci) are unequal in length in the males.

Earwigs are insects belonging to the order Dermaptera. Most earwigs feed on decaying plant matter but some species are predatory and feed on a variety of other insects. Earwigs are attracted to outdoor lighting. Earwigs are unwelcome guests in most everyone?s garden or home. These three-quarter-inch- long, reddish brown insects look particularly formidable, with their rear pincers and quick movements.

Earwigs are protected during the day when they are beneath debris or below the soil surface.

For their organic control emulsifiable concentrates or wettable powders can be used with good results.

Earwigs are members of the insect Order Dermaptera and range in size from extremely tiny to a couple of inches long. They are also known to give off a bad smell. To keep them out of your home, caulk and repair spaces and cracks around the outside of your home.

Females lay clusters of eggs in crevices or burrows and guard them while keeping them neat and clean. This degree of maternal care is uncommon among insects.

Eggs of the first brood hatch in 70 days after being laid because of the cool spring temperatures and eggs laid in late spring or summer take only about 20 days to hatch. Egg laying can take place twice per year (spring and summer).

Earwigs live for approximately one year, but most often the males die during the winter months. Eggs hatch in about 17 days, unless it is near winter. If the weather is getting cold, the eggs won't hatch until the next Spring, when the temperature is warm again.

Mulches, grass clippings, and leaf litter often provide the decaying organic matter they need to survive. Mulched flower beds and compost pits are also a prime habitat. Chemical treatments in areas where the earwigs breed are most effective.

Trapping is an effective, easy and low-tech way to reduce earwig populations. Rolled up newspapers or corrugated cardboard, low-sided cans such as tuna cans filled with oil, burlap bags, boards, an 8-10 inch piece of garden hose and a bamboo tube can all be used as traps.

Traps can be of various designs but should produce dark hiding areas that the earwigs will seek out for daytime shelters. Rolled corrugated cardboard can be very effective, as can rolled or crumpled newspapers. Traps can be made from timber 12"x15" raised off the the ground on 1" runners.

Insecticides available include carbaryl (Sevin), cyfluthrin, permethrin and several more. Most of these insecticides are available from garden centres and chemists.

Insecticidal soaps and diatomaceous earth formulations may also be effective where they will contact earwigs directly. It may be necessary to repeat applications at regular intervals.

Choose one which says on the label that it is suitable for crawling insects including earwigs and has a residual life (remains active for a long period of time).

Earwigs were so named because of the erroneous belief that they sometimes creep into human ears. They are completely harmless to humans but are known to transmit virus diseases that affect plants.

Earwigs undergo a type of development known as incomplete metamorphosis, in which the nymphs progress through a series of moults. The stages between moults are known as 'instars'. Earwigs have wings but they are rarely used to fly. Earwigs are only normally active in darkness, and at the start of the night they begin their search for food and shelter.
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