Name: Forficula auricularia

Alias: Earwig. This is a creepy crawler that has the head of an ant, but a stretched-out body with two large pinchers coming of the back end. It looks like something that crawls out from underneath a rock at night, and that is because that is literally what they do. Females tend to protect egg clutches through the winter. In the spring, they come out as a big, happy family to feed on your garden. As the young earwigs mature they become more independent. They usually only have one generation a year. They prefer moist dark places and come out at night to feed.

Crimes: Earwigs don’t really have any particular preference of what they eat. The feed on leaves, flowers and the fruit of plants, causing them to be a regular problem for everyone. Plants fed on by earwigs appear shriveled and curled, usually with holes throughout. It is a myth that earwigs will burrow into your ear.

Redeming qualities: While this pest is despised by many, it does not differentiate between the plants that you love and the bugs you hate (aphids, thrips, mites, etc.) as options for dinner. It will eat pretty much anything, and they tend to keep other pests at bay.

Sentence: These insects can be evicted by removing dead plant debris on the ground level. If they still don’t get the hint, try using traps. Commercial options are available or you could simple make your own out of a tuna fish can and some cooking oil. Insecticides are available, such as Carbaryl. However, if you use the appropriate cultural practices, insecticides are rarely needed to control earwigs.

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call UI Extension educator Joseph Sagers at 208-270-4031 or email jsagers@uidaho.edu.