There is an old wives’ tale that claims earwigs are in the habit of crawling into people’s ear canals where they eventually consume the brain. This claim is widely recognized as ridiculous today, as earwigs are just as likely as roaches, flies and ants to enter a person’s ear canal, and under no circumstances will the insects feed on or lay eggs within a person’s brain. However, earwigs, much like ladybugs and boxelder bugs, can become a nuisance pest within Massachusetts homes, particularly during the fall or during prolonged dry spells in the summer.

Homeowners often find earwigs outdoors within their garden beds and beneath mulch, as earwigs require high moisture environments in order to survive and raise their offspring. Their search for moisture can bring earwigs indoors during long periods of drought in the summer. But nuisance earwig infestations mostly occur during the fall, as the insects must secure warm shelter in order to survive the cold of winter. While earwigs may not cause destruction to a home, they can become quite numerous indoors, and they also emit a foul odor when they become threatened or when they are crushed and killed. Earwigs will, however, cause extensive damage to outdoor and indoor plants, especially flowers. Outdoor earwig infestations in gardens and other areas of a yard’s landscape are difficult to eradicate. In order to prevent earwigs from gravitating into your home it is important to minimize high moisture areas, such areas where pipes are leaking or where a gutter obstruction prevents rainwater from draining properly away from a home.

Earwigs also have a filthy way of surviving when food sources are low or non-existent. This survival method consists of earwigs eating the feces of their siblings. This is why earwigs do not clear their nests of feces, as they may need an emergency food source in the future. This habit, along with their foul odor,  adds another disgusting aspect to indoor earwig infestations.

Have you ever witnessed earwigs damaging your ornamental flowering plants?