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Earwigs are a distinctive group of insects of small to medium size, ranging from 5 to 50 millimetres in length. Earwigs are sometimes confused with Staphylinid beetles, but can be distinguished from the latter by the presence of pincer-like cerci, which Staphylinid beetles lack.
The forceps-like appendages at the end of its abdomen are used primarily for defense and during courtship. Females have straight-sided forceps while male forceps are strongly curved and larger. If wings are present, the first pair is hard and short, with a second membranous, fan-shaped pair folded under them, often with the tips protruding.
Female earwigs lay 50-90 shiny white eggs in a chamber in the ground in the fall. Earwigs may dig as deep as six feet below ground to escape the cold temperatures. They hibernate through the winter in this nest and in the spring attend the first instar nymphs, providing them with food. The young earwigs resemble their parents, but are lighter in color, lack wings and have tiny pinchers. The females generally die before midsummer, by which time the young have left the nest, so numbers tend to decline by August. The young become adults between late August and early October, when new male and female pairs enter the soil to construct their nests. Rich garden soil with a southern exposure is a favorite place for earwigs to lay their eggs. Moist summers tend to favor higher populations.
Earwigs feed primarily at night. During the day they hide in dark, moist places such as cracks or crevices, or beneath stones, boards, or debris on the soil surface. They can be found hiding in garden plants, shrubbery, along fences, in woodpiles, at the base of trees, and behind loose boards on buildings. Mulch in flower beds and around trees and shrubs are also great habitats for earwigs
Damages:European earwigs feed on a variety of dead and living organisms, including insects, mites, and growing shoots of plants. They are voracious feeders on soft-bodied insects such as aphids and insect eggs and can exert significant biological control under some circumstances. In yards that are planted to turf and contain mature ornamental plants, damage by earwigs is unlikely to be of concern
European earwigs can cause substantial damage to seedling plants and soft fruit as well as to sweet corn. Damaged seedlings may be missing all or parts of their leaves and stem. Leaves on older plants, including fruit trees, have numerous irregular holes or are chewed around the edges. This damage may resemble damage caused by caterpillars. Look for webbing, frass (excrement), or pupae that would indicate the presence of caterpillars. Soft fruit such as apricots or strawberries may be attacked. Hard fruit such as apples will not be harmed. On stone fruit, look for shallow gouges or holes that extend deeply into the fruit. On strawberries, distinguish earwig damage from that of snails and slugs by checking for the slime trails left by snails and slugs. On corn, earwigs feed on silks and prevent pollination, causing poor kernel development. Earwigs may also damage flowers including zinnias, marigolds, and dahlias.
Earwigs may seek refuge indoors when conditions outside are too dry or hot or cold. Large accumulations of earwigs can be annoying but present no health hazards. Sweep or vacuum them up and seal entry points. Earwigs eventually die indoors because there is little for them to eat.
MANAGEMENTof earwigs requires an integrated program that takes advantage of their habitat preferences. As moisture-loving insects, earwigs would not normally thrive in New York arid climate without the moisture and shade provided by the irrigated garden. Where earwigs are a problem, consider reducing hiding places and surface moisture levels. Initiate a regular trapping program. If these measures are followed, insecticide treatments should not be necessary.
Prevention of your home from Earwigs : Indoors earwigs can be swept or vacuumed up; be sure to kill them and dispose of them promptly so they will not re-invade. If earwigs are a regular problem in a building, inspect the area to see how they are getting in the house and seal up cracks and entry points. Remove materials outside the perimeter of the building that could provide harborage, such as ivy growing up walls, ground cover, debris (especially leaves in gutters), wood piles, leaf litter, piles of newspapers, or other organic matter
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