Every caller starts the conversation off in the same way: “I have this horrible looking bug and it looks vicious and mean. It has two pincers on the end of it’s body and I’m afraid its going to get in my house and bite me!” As horticulture agent for Burke County I hear this description several times each day.
This monster is an earwig and it truly does look horrible. When provoked it can pinch, but is generally harmless as far as damage is concerned. They are, however, very disconcerting when they come scurrying out from behind something in the house or from under a leaf or rock outside.
Earwigs are usually active at night and spend their days hiding in a dark, cool spot. When the weather becomes hot or dry the earwig will become more visible because it is trying to find shelter closer to, or even in the house.
Make sure any foundation cracks or torn screens are repaired as these are perfect routes for home invasion. Use a barrier spray of diazinon around the foundation or diazinon granules on the ground around the house. Use an indoor insect spray for any unwanted visitors.
Earwigs eat the foliage and flowers of many plants. They like young and tender leaves and buds. They do their damage at night and an expedition to the garden with a flashlight is the only way you will ever catch them in the act. They also like decaying fruits, vegetable and foliage so it is important to keep the garden free of any discarded produce.
These insects are not a major problem in the house or garden but because there are large numbers present this summer they are an alarming sight. As the summer continues, the earwig will become less and less prominent so try not to launch a full scale campaign against them. They will go away on their own.