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Unpleasant looking


These insects are very easy to spot. There aren’t a lot of other common North American pests that come close in appearance. Most prominent among their body plan are the characteristic “pinchers” at the end of their elongated abdomens. They are hence oftentimes referred to as “pincher bugs”.

Where do they get their outlandish name? As horrible as it is, there exists a very old (and completely inaccurate) myth that earwigs burrow into people’s brains when they’re sleeping to lay eggs. This bizarre narrative is perhaps fueled by the waxy smell they are sometimes reported to give off, which, paired with their general creepiness, can lead to “catastrophizing” what is in most cases a fairly harmless pest.

The “wig” in earwig refers to the wiggling/waggling motion of the bug when it moves. The name therefore suggests the insect is known for wiggling into or out of people’s ears.

The fact is, these insects often find themselves inside homes on accident. Not by design. They greatly prefer damp, humid and dark climates to the dry, clean and well-lit spaces in most of our homes. They sometimes wander in when temperatures rise outside. Or are periodically brought inside homes on the underside of the morning newspaper in the summer or the bottom of a potted plant brought indoors from the porch.

They don’t like to inhabit our homes, much less people’s ears.

Is it dangerous?

Although rare, earwigs do occasionally use their pinchers to “bite” people. These are quickly identified by the two distinct marks they leave behind. They can be further distinguished from mosquito and spider bites, as mosquito and spider bites tend to leave a swollen area behind which can, over time, lead to further skin complications. Earwig “bites”, by contrast, are entirely superficial and typically unaccompanied by swollen skin.

You have to remember that if you are pinched by one, it certainly wasn’t malicious. They only use it when they feel threatened in some way, so they aren’t following you around with the sole purpose of inflicting pain.

In the incredibly rare cases where a pinch from an ear wig either doesn’t heal, or appears to get worse with time, it’s likely that one of a few situations has occurred. Either part of the earwig’s pincher has broken off in your skin, or your skin was broken by the pinch and you were infected by some sort of bacteria. It’s very important in these situations to contact a medical professional if symptoms don’t improve, and to wash the affected area with soap and water.

To prevent this sort of situation from arising in the first place, simply take care to never handle earwigs directly. If you must handle them in your efforts to get rid of them, use gloves. Earwigs aren’t trying to pinch you – they’re trying to survive.

What should I do next?

Give us a call at (269) 424-3458. We’d be happy to walk you through both the removal AND prevention process. Once we’ve eliminated the pest problem, we’ll want to check any of the areas in your home earwigs might find appealing. Because they are chiefly nocturnal, these will be damp, dark places – some of which may be hiding in plain sight.

Like the bottom of a potted plant – or the underside of a carpet or welcome mat at the front door.

We’re here to assist! Give us a call at (269) 424-3458!