Earwig – Identification

Q: I have seen this strange bug all my life here in Georgia, but I’ve never known what it is. A bunch of them crawled out of a crack in a concrete block retaining wall in our back yard.

A: You’ve found an earwig. My uncle once told me that if one of these insects got in your hair, it would burrow through your brain so that he could see straight through, “from ear to ear!”.

Your specimen is a male, because the pincers are strongly curved. Female pincers are straighter. In neither case are the “pinchers” painful if you pick up an earwig.

Earwigs mostly feed on plant debris but if numbers build large enough they will consume living plants. The damage isn’t considered major, so there is no reason to control them outdoors.

If you find a few in your house, treat the mulch near doorways with insecticide. Since they prefer moist environments, be sure to fix dripping outdoor faucets and damp spots near your downspout.

Earwigs can be trapped outdoors in an oatmeal box. Leave a teaspoon of oatmeal in the box and punch several holes in the side with a pencil. Cover with a small sheet of plastic to prevent water damage. Check it daily; shake captured insects into a container of soapy water.

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